Well, we’re through two majors now. ‘Year of Bubba’ has taken a backseat to Martin Kaymer, who backed up his May Players Championship win by boat-racing the field at Pinehurst and capturing his second career major. If you think the season is half-way over, what with two majors down and two to go, you’re Chris Berman wrong.
This week’s Travelers Championship marks the tenth remaining event left on the 2013-14 PGA Tour season before the utterly captivating (Finchy, you’re reading, right?) FedEx Cup playoffs begin. We’re gettting into crunch time, folks. Guys best start jockeying for position if they want a shot at that $10 million annuity OIL they’re giving out in Atlanta. Anyway, on to this week’s event…
TPC River Highlands
What can be said about the fabled TPC River Highlands course that hasn’t been said already, amirite?
The jewel of Greater Hartford stretches to just over 6,800 yards and will play as a par-70. It’s a Bobby Weed redesign (stickiest of the icky) that “meanders over 148 acres, with stately corridors of mature maple, oak, sycamore, and eastern white pine trees framing gently rolling fairways.”
God, that’s so good.
Naturally–you read that description, right?–it’s been “named by Golf Digest as ‘One of the Top 10 Golf Courses in Connecticut.'”
Wait, is this a competitive list? I’m honestly asking. I’d think any course hosting a PGA tournament in a state the size of my left shoe would auto-qualify. Amusing they felt the need to highlight this ‘distinction.’
Anyway, it’s an ultra-gettable track that annually rolls over and yields lots and lots of birdies. For this week everybody will be a bomber and gouger. Gonna be stuffed wedges galore!
Finally, if you’re so inclined, here is a much more professional, thorough guide to the TPC River Highlands.
Hartford is DEEP in the insurance game. And granted we’re discussing a golf tournament here, I’ll hazard a guess and say the people showing up for this party are going to be a tad conservative.
We’ll also mention there will most likely be numerous red umbrellas on the grounds. I’ll bet the Travelers Suits are praying for rain, positively giddy at the prospect of free marketing. (And you know that Nantz is dying to refer to the dog from the commercials that digs the guy’s ball out of the woods and plops it on the green. Keep your ears peeled for this whenever someone pops one into the trees this week.)
Lastly, this tournament always conjures images of former champ JJ Henry in his patented purple. In fact, JJ Henry is a damn-near perfect champion for the Travelers. Nice guy, non-threatening, and utterly forgettable.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Travelers Champsionship!!!
On your feet, heathens…
With an effort that surely had Ollie Cromwell himself beaming with pride, and which held rapt all of Buckingham Palace, Ken Duke held off Chris Stroud in a two-hole playoff to capture his first career PGA Tour win. At 44 years young he became the oldest first-time winner on Tour since (Steady) Ed Dougherty won at the age of 47 in 1995. NLU’s own Fil watched the action at home, draped in a British flag, sobbing at the perfect symmetry of Sir Ken winning the event just months after the passing of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. Life imitating art. A huge boost for all of the United Kingdom. What a special moment it was last year.
It was a moment, though, that didn’t seem to stand a chance of occurring. Bubba Watson was in cruise control, having entered the final round tied for the lead, and standing on the 16th tee box 13 deep. That’s when all this went down:
Bubba made triple, shot 70 (which is really like 74), and missed the playoff by two. NLU, needless to say, was crestfallen.
Loyal NLU follower Chris Stroud holed this chip on 18 to force the playoff:
But was outlasted by Sir Ken Duke:
(all lines courtesy Ladbrokes.com, the Official Bookmaker of NoLayingUp.com)
Horses for Courses
Ryan Moore (33/1) – A true horse for course! Top 13 finishes in four of the last five years, including a runner up in 2011 and a T4 in 2009. He doesn’t have any top-10’s in recent events, but he’s been around on the weekends, and seems to be just waiting to break through. Moore’s knuckle-cut/push seems to play well here. Full disclosure: Tron’s a Ryan Moore junkie.
Marc Leishman (40/1) – I would have thought he would have been closer to 25/1. He won here in 2012 and was T30 a year ago. He’s got three top 25’s in his last four starts, including a T3 at the Byron Nelson. #trending
Charley Hoffman (40/1) – He should have won here in 2012, and he finished T7 here a year ago. He’s made 16 out of 17 cuts this year, including 9 in a row.
Brooks Koepka (50/1) – As presidents of the Brooks Koepka fan club, we were ecstatic with his T4 finish at the Open, and his berth into next year’s Masters. We’re sticking with his hot hand and playing him at 50/1 this week.
Kevin Chappell (66/1) – prior to his emceeing duties at the Memorial, had gone T11, T26, T10 the prior three events. He hasn’t played this event since 2011, so not much track record. I’m guessing he’s playing this year because his sponsors are forcing him to, OR he feels good about his game (or neither, but hey.)
Brian Harman (80/1) – Tron loves him this week, and even cited his history as an amateur in winning us over. A course that does not emphasize length plays well in his hands, and he’s coming off a T6 at Memphis.
Aaron Baddeley (100/1) – Badds has been in the wilderness a bit, but quietly playing better over the last month or so. Four straight made cuts and some modest finishes doesn’t jump off the page at you, but he’s played well on this course, and at that price I don’t need to build too strong of a case.
Robert Streb (100/1) – Coming back to this well…has made 11 of 12 cuts this year, including 4 top-25’s. Made the cut here last year (finished T58) in his only start. Quietly playing some very good golf. Like the form and love the odds on a track where anyone can win if they get hot.
Chad Campbell (150/1) – Remember this guy? He’s been in the Wilderness for a while, but he’s made three straight cuts and can make birdies in bunches. If he’s to win again, seemingly, it’d be on a track like this.
Honorable Mentions & Fantasy Fodder
Bubba is 10/1 this week, and loves this event. While the odds are horrendous, esp against a strong field, he should be in your fantasy lineups. Also, Keegan is primed to win (if we’re going for a big name), so he’s a strong play for your lineups as well (just don’t love the odds).
- The odds for US Money List winner are quite interesting at the moment, with Kaymer in the middle of the pack at 12/1. I guess the thought here is that eases off a bit after this recent stretch. Instead, though, I’m thinking he’s just gonna keep it rolling. With a few weeks to rest, a smattering of huge events on the horizon, and the Ryder Cup looming in September, now isn’t to dick around with your swing. Booba is the favorite at 4/1, followed by DJ 6/1, Walker-Scott-Kuchar 8/1, Spieth 12/1, Rory 14/1, and then it drops off to 40/1. Booba’s got a million dollar lead on Jimmy Walker, so take that for what it’s worth. But actually my money is on DJ. Something tells me he’s on the verge (disclaimer: I perpetually feel like he’s on the verge).
- Rory is 3/1 this week at the Irish Open against a relatively decent field. That’s some serious respect!
- This event’s made a name for itself for extending exemptions to young talent, and this year is no different. Matthew Fitzpatrick makes his pro debut over at the Irish Open this week. Meanwhile, Australian Oliver Goss and Stanford teammates Cameron Wilson and Patrick Rodgers are two of the names to watch out for. Wilson’s listed at 150/1, well ahead of some pretty heady company.
- Interestingly enough, Dick Mast is listed as an alternate this week. Mast, who bears no relation to former Cincinnati Reds Pitching Coach Dick Pole, is 63 years old and a curious addition to the alternates this week as the Champions tour is entering it’s insane stretch of three consecutive majors on the schedule LOL
- Peter Jacobsen winning in 2003 at the age of 49 was really cool, especially because he hadn’t really done anything for like five years. Also, Corey Pavin lost in a playoff in this event FOUR YEARS AGO.
- The course record at the TPC Highlands is 60. It was set in 2011 by Patrick Cantlay. As an amateur. Mega cool.
Enjoy the week and catch us on twitter during coverage @NoLayingUp.