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In fact, this year’s pga tour , Travelers Championship, at the TPC River Highlands outside of Hartford, features the winners of both 2012 majors (Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson) and ten other major champions. The TPC River Highlands is a relatively short par 70 that is very tamable and you only have to go back to last year when 37 players finished double digits below par to see it is a very different venue from a U.S. Open course. It is typical for a shorter par 70 course like this to favor shot makers and to take away the advantage the bombers have with their length. That isn’t necessarily the case at River Highlands, though. While a PGA event has been held here every year since 1984, a look at the last ten years shows winners with all different types of profiles… from 2-time winner Phil Mickelson to the control game of a Brad Faxon to Bubba Watson to last year’s winner Fredrik Jacobson. Here is a look at my favorites and a few guys I think may overachieve this week in Connecticut:
1. Bubba Watson (25/1) – Bubba actually told reporters Olympic was too hard for him after his opening round 78 last week. This from the guy who won at Augusta a couple months ago. He shot 1-over 71 on Saturday so his game isn’t in disarray. Plus, he won this tournament on this course just two years ago when he was -14. I have a hunch Thursday was an exception and he’ll be right at home in Hartford.
2. Hunter Mahan (16/1) – He loves this course… how’s this for a run 2nd in 2006, won in 2007 and 2nd again in 2008? He faded on Sunday here last year but shot a blistering 63 on Friday. He’s already a two-time winner in 2012 and is heading to a course he has a great history on.
3. Bo Van Pelt (28/1) – Bo has played well at this event the last three years and has 13 consecutive rounds at or below par at River Highlands. He was also playing well leading up to the U.S. Open… I am willing to look past the two poor rounds he had at Olympic since this course bears no resemblance to it.
4. Padraig Harrington (22/1) – Paddy’s tie for fourth at the U.S. Open last week was his 3rd top 15 in a row. He’s got it going right now and placed in the top 5 at the Travelers as recently as 2010.
5. Ryan Moore (25/1) – I had all kinds of options for this spot… odds favorite Matt Kuchar (hasn’t played here in 4 years), defending champ Fredrik Jacobson (too difficult to repeat at the same event) and new U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson (too hard to focus on this event with all the media appearances and obligations he’ll have this week) all came to mind. I settled on Moore because he’s got a great record at River Highlands (tied for 2nd last year and tied for 4th in ‘09) and it hasn’t really mattered how he’s playing coming in.