There was no question that American Bubba Watson was the best player in the watered-down field at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut last week, but the best player rarely wins those types of events.
Bubba did, going off as the +1200 heavy Bovada favorite. Watson birdied the second extra hole to beat England's Paul Casey in a playoff. It was Watson's eighth career win and second at TPC River Highlands -- he won there in 2010, also in a playoff, for his first career win. He is now 5-1 in his career in a playoff. Casey had overcome a three-stroke deficit with five to play, tying Watson at 16-under 264.
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Since 2010, only Rory McIlroy with 11 has more victories on the PGA Tour than Watson. Tiger Woods also has eight. Watson long ago set a goal of 10 career Tour wins. He might get that by September, especially with his length off the tee. Watson is now up to No. 3 in the world rankings.
I didn't take Watson individually to win but did mention I wouldn't back anyone who had played all four rounds the previous weekend at the grueling U.S. Open. Watson missed the cut at Chambers Bay. I did get him at +125 for a Top 10 and also recommended a Big 4 of Watson, Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker and Sergio Garcia at +300 against the field. I backed up the Big 4 bet with a longer shot on Aussie Marc Leishman, but he was T39. I also hit on Snedeker at +150 for a Top 10 but not Garcia as he was T25. Head-to-head, I hit on Watson (-125) over Reed (-105), Zach Johnson (-115) over Brendan Steele (-115), Billy Horschel (-115) over Louis Oosthuizen (-110), and Keegan Bradley (-125) over Russell Knox (-105). So not too bad.
This week the Tour heads to The Old White TPC course in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, for the Greenbrier Classic, another middling field two weeks ahead of the British Open. I'm pretty surprised Watson is playing, although he keeps a summer home there. We get our first look at Tiger since his missed cut at the U.S. Open; he missed the cut here in 2012 in his only previous experience. The field got a bit weaker with the withdrawals of Snedeker and Jimmy Walker.
There's not a whole lot to go on here because the tournament has only been around since 2010 when it replaced the old Buick Open in Flint, Mich. Stuart Appleby won that first year with a final-round 59. Argentina's Angel Cabrera was an unlikely winner last year, his first PGA Tour win that wasn't a major (2009 Masters, '07 U.S. Open). He shot a final-round 64 to beat George McNeill by two. A non-American has won this three of the five times. No third-round leader has gone on to win yet; three of the five winners have come from at least four shots back. It's a pretty easy par 70 -- the winner is going to finish double digits under par.
Golf Odds: The Greenbrier Classic Favorites
Naturally Watson is the heavy favorite again , this time at +1000 at Bovada. I'll tell you right now I'm not big on him because it's near impossible to win back-to-back weeks. Watson hasn't played great here, either, finishing T16 last year and T30 in 2013.
Casey is +2000. He's having a nice season with six Top-10 finishes but has no history here. Oosthuizen is +2200 with Reed and Webb Simpson. Both Reed and Oosthuizen missed the cut last week. Reed was 26th here in 2014. Simpson didn't play last week. He has three Top 10s here in the past four trips and blew a 54-hole lead in one of those.
Tiger is way down at +4000, while Cabrera is a +8000 long shot to repeat. That's not going to happen.
PGA Tour Picks: The Greenbrier Classic Expert Betting Predictions
On the Top-10 props, I like Simpson at +200 along with Bill Haas (+275). Give me Top 20s on Watson (-225), Reed (+110) and J.B. Holmes (+110). I do think Tiger makes the cut -- he is -150 to do so and +115 to miss.
I like Graham DeLaet at +550 as the top "rest of the world player" as well as highest-placed finisher at +300 vs. Bradley (+300), Tony Finau (+350), Kevin Na (+350) and Justin Thomas (+450). Go with former champion Jonas Blixt at +700 as the top European player and at +275 as the top Swede.
I don't like the Big 4 of Watson, Casey, Reed and Oosthuizen at +400 against the field (-650). I think the winner is either Simpson or Haas. The latter lost a playoff in 2011 and was ninth in 2013. He's +2800 to win. Slight lean to Simpson, although I did hit on Haas winning the Humana Challenge back in January.
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