By Michael McGill

The PGA Tour this week leaves San Francisco, California and heads 3000 miles east to Cromwell, Connecticut for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands.

This tournament was established in 1952 when it was won by Ted Kroll. Back then it was known as the Insurance City Open and he won $2,400 for his efforts. This year the Purse is $6,000,000 with the winner taking home a cool $1,080,000.  Times have certainly changed on tour.

Over the years the tournament has gone through a few name changes and has been known as the Travelers Championship since 2007. It has been played at TPC River Highlands since 1984. The course is a Par 70, 6,841 yard birdiefest with 119 sand bunkers and 5 water hazards. It is ranked as one of the easier courses on the PGA Tour and as such you can expect to see a lot of low scores this week.

The last 5 years have seen scores of -20, -14, -22, -18 and -15. The course record was set last year by the amateur Patrick Cantlay who posted a second round ten under par 60. He went on to finish in a tie for 24th at -11. He is in the field again this week and is sure to have fond memories of the course.

Considering that we had the US Open last week and the players have made a mad dash from one side of the country to the other, the field this week still has many big names. The top six in betting are Matt Kuchar 14/1, Hunter Mahan 15/1, Webb Simpson 16/1, Zach Johnson 18/1, Padraig Harrington 22/1 and Bubba Watson 25/1.

All six players are backing up from the US Open so it will be interesting to see if we have any late withdrawals, particularly from the winner Webb Simpson who has not had time to rest for one minute due to all the media commitments that go along with winning a Major.

Aside from these six great names we also have nine winners from this season teeing it up with the likes of John Huh, Kyle Stanley and George McNeill. Then we have seven past winners of the Travelers Championship including Defending Champion Fredrik Jacobson. Can he be the second man since Phil Mickelson in 2002 to successfully defend his title?

Other past winners are Bubba Watson (2010), Kenny Perry (2009), Hunter Mahan (2007), JJ Henry (2006), Brad Faxon (2005) and Notah Begay (2000).

There are also 12 Major winners in the field this week including Louis Oosthuizen, Keegan Bradley, Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh. We also have players representing countries like Argentina, Colombia, India, Japan, South Africa, Australia, Sweden and Zimbabwe.

So what does it take to win at TPC River Highlands?   While last week was all about accuracy and precision, this week is time for the big hitters to shine. There is more emphasis on distance when you look at the past winners who have all ranked highly in this stat over the years.

There are only two Par 5’s on the course so look for players who have good Par 4 stats.

Good putting stats have also been a good key to the winners in the past. Most have been ranked highly in this category.

After taking this all into consideration we have come up with the following three players whose game should suit the course.

Ryan Moore 30/1

Ryan is having a good season on the PGA tour with 12 cuts made from 14 starts. He has recorded five Top 25’s and three Top 10’s. He was T4th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T8th in the Valero Texas Open and T5th in the Wells Fargo Championship. In his last start he was T38th at the Memorial Tournament. He has had a two-week break so should be refreshed and raring to go.

If you like the saying ‘horses for courses’ then Ryan is the man this week to follow. Last year he was T2nd, T13th in 2010 and T4th in 2009. Those are pretty impressive numbers in anyones book! His other two starts were a missed cut in 2008 and T33rd in 2007.

Looking at his current stats on tour for this season he is ranked 9th in Par 4 birdie or better, 28th in birdie average and 6th in strokes gained putting.

For a guy in good current form with good course form and good stats we can expect to see Ryan up there challenging over the weekend.

Keegan Bradley 35/1

Last year was Keegans rookie year on tour and he managed two victories! The HP Byron Nelson Championship and The PGA Tour Championship. To win a Major in our rookie year is pretty impressive stuff.

This season he has made 13 cuts from 16 starts. From those 13 events he has posted ten Top 25’s!! That is a great strike rate. His three Top 10’s were a 2nd in the Northern Trust Open in February, T8th in the WGC Cadillac Championship in March and a T4th in the Shell Houston Open in April.

While his last four starts have been T35th, T24th, Cut and T68th we know he is a much better player than that and the TPC River Highlands course should be just the tonic he needs to get his game back on track.

While he has only played here the once (T63rd last year) he has the stats to say that he should play well. He is 16th in driving distance, 45th in GIR, 23rd in strokes gained putting, 7th in birdie average, 1st in all round stats, 14th in Par 4 birdie or better and 18th in ball striking.

This could be the week that we see the real Keegan Bradley in action and at 30/1 he should give us something to cheer for come sunday afternoon.

Harris English 60/1

Ok, Ok, I can hear a lot of people saying ‘who’s he’. Well let me tell you. In 2011 he had seven starts on the Nationwide tour and recorded a win, a second and a third! The win was in the Nationwide children’s Hospital Invitational. From there he played in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament where he was T13th and got himself onto the PGA Tour for 2012.

This is his rookie year on the PGA Tour and he has made 13 cuts from 16 starts. Six of those have been Top 25’s and two Top 10’s. Those were a T8th in the RBC Heritage and a T5th in the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

The 23-year-old has some great stats which should see him play well here. He is 15th in ball striking, 6th in total birdies, 7th in Par 4 birdie or better, 25th in all round ranking, 48th in strokes gained putting, 19th in GIR and 16th in driving distance.

Could this be the week for the rookie to claim his maiden PGA Tour victory? At 60/1 it is worth a shout.

Good luck and good punting.

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