PGA Tour Picks: Travelers Championship Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 6/19/2013
When you write for a newspaper or magazine, both of which I have done, you have to be impartial on stories. Your job isn't to influence people -- although columnists (to a degree) and op-ed writers are allowed to -- but inform. The nice thing about writing for Doc's Sports is the point is to influence you with good information. I mention this because I am a Phil Mickelson fan.
I couldn't have been more wrong about Mickelson at last week's U.S. Open, and I couldn't have been more wrong times two about little Merion Golf Club. To be fair about the latter, everyone from experts to the players themselves were speculating on the winner of the U.S. Open finishing double-digits under par. It was short course softened by heavy rains. We all clearly overlooked the rough, which was obscene, and the incredibly hard greens.
I recommended against Mickelson because he flew all night cross country before his early-morning first-round tee time after going to his daughter's eighth-grade graduation. I guess I overlooked that Mickelson's private jet probably has nicer accommodations than anywhere I've ever lived. This wasn't Lefty crammed between two overweight people in 34B in coach. Justin Rose didn't win last week's Open, Mickelson lost it. He was brilliant in an opening-round 67 and led the entire way before struggling on the front nine Sunday. When he got the lead back with an eagle on 10, I thought it was in the bag. But, once again, the U.S. Open was cruel to Mickelson as he bogeyed three of the final eight holes and finished two shots behind Rose. It was Mickelson's sixth U.S. Open runner-up, a staggering number. That Sunday was also Father's Day and his birthday almost made it crueler. Here's hoping he bounces back at the British Open next month.
As I said, I didn't like Mickelson on any prop. My projected winner was Aussie Jason Day, and he finished T2 with Lefty. Also missed on a Top 10 for Tiger Woods, although he did beat Rory McIlroy at -240. Obviously, I liked Day for a Top 10. He's the only one I got. Merion fooled us all, but it was great theater and why the U.S. Open remains my favorite tournament. It heads to difficult Pinehurst No. 2 again in 2014, last visiting the North Carolina course in 2005. Michael Campbell was the unlikely winner that year.
After the U.S. Open grind, you won't see most stars for a few weeks, and some Europeans will head back overseas and stay there until the British Open. The Tour heads to the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands outside of Hartford this week. There will be plenty of scoring on this par-70, 6,841-yard course. Marc Leishman won it last year at 266, a shot ahead of Bubba Watson and Charley Hoffman. Leishman overcame a six-shot deficit with a final-round 62. Hoffman was on 17 with a two-shot lead but finished double bogey/bogey.
Shockingly, Rose is in the field, choosing to honor his commitment when most would take a pass after winning the Open. He's one of five Top-20 players, including Lee Westwood (first time here) and Watson. A total of 47 players who teed it up last week are in the field. Leishman is back to defend. Also here is world No. 1 amateur Chris Williams, who is making his professional debut.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Travelers Championship Favorites
Rose is the 14/1 favorite, to no surprise, but I couldn't like him less. In fact, I'd throw some money on him to miss the cut at +300 (-500 to make it). Rose has no doubt been living it up after winning his first major and has made the rounds on David Letterman, etc.. Kudos to him for even playing. Webb Simpson played here last year after winning the Open and finished T29.
Hunter Mahan is 16/1. He won this event in 2007 and also has two runner-ups and a T4 in Hartford in his career. Mahan also played really well last week with a T4. Watson and Westwood are 18/1. As noted, Westwood is playing for the first time, but last week's T15 at the Open was his fifth straight finish of T15 or better in the USA (not including a W/D at the Memorial). Watson's first career win came in Hartford in 2010. He's 62-under in his past 20 rounds on this course and had that T2 a year ago.
Jason Dufner (20/1) and Rickie Fowler (22/1) round out the favorites. Dufner had not played well this year but maybe found his stroke with last week's T4. He hasn't been in this event since 2008. Fowler had been struggling until last week's T10. He last played here three years ago.
PGA Tour Picks: Travelers Championship Predictions
I do like Mahan (+125) and Westwood (+150) for Top-10 finishes as well as Freddie Jacobson (+325) at the site of his lone PGA Tour win in 2011. Head-to-head, take Mahan (even) over Rose (-130), Westwood (-115) over Dufner (-115) and John Rollins (-115) over Ryan Moore (-115).
I do like Rollins at the long 33/1 odds to win as he has finished T5 the past two years in Hartford. He didn't play last week and had T10s in his previous two tournaments. However, I think Westwood is energized by his countryman Rose's U.S. Open triumph and wins his third career PGA Tour event and first in three years.
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