Who will be the Master at The Travelers? Steve Bamford's Travelers Championship Tips:
After the rigours of Pebble Beach it's back to earth with a very soft landing for the PGA Tour this week. We’re off to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. This is your typical PGA Tour event where hitting fairways is easy and length off the tee is a real advantage. In essence it then becomes target practice to find out who has the best approach play and ultimately the hottest putter for the week.
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TPC Highlands is a Par 70, with wide fairways and slow bent grass greens so players with excellent bent grass course records tend to go extremely well here. Allied to that players must have the ability to go low because serious red numbers will be required to contend. For me the key here is to select players who have a superb Augusta record, as previous winners Perry and Cink both finished 2nd at Augusta National prior to winning The Travelers in the following June.
You can’t argue with the Hunter in the Highlands. Of the field this week he was the highest finisher at Augusta in April where he finished a creditable 8th. Allied to that he also won this season in Phoenix, where previous winner Kenny Perry has also triumphed. Mahan won his first PGA Tour title here in 2008 and excels around the wide spaces and on the slow bent grass greens. With Ryder Cup qualification now becoming front of mind, Mahan knows a win this week on his favourite course will cement an automatic spot on the plane bound for Wales in September.
I can’t think of a better player to have 888Sports £20 no risk bet at The Travelers than Oklahoma’s Bo Van Pelt. The PGA Tour’s most in-form player of the past 2 months, Van Pelt has really developed into a top player since his win at the US Bank Championship at Milwaukee on bent grass greens last July. 3rd at Harbor Town, 5th at Quail Hollow, 4th at The Players, and 3rd at Memorial are startling performances from the ‘Quiet Man.’ Form horses go well at TPC Highlands and 2 Top 10s in the last 3 years here show he can play the course. Has a real chance to get on the Ryder Cup team so is very motivated to do well once again.
Like Van Pelt, Moore is highly motivated to go well this week in Connecticut. Released from the tough confines of Pebble Beach where he finished a creditable 33rd on a course that didn’t suit, Moore will feel right at home on the slow bent grass greens on which he excels. A great match player when Captain of US Walker Cup teams in his amateur days, Moore also has both eyes on a place on the Ryder Cup team and a win this week gets him in the Top 12 in the standings for selection. Finished an impressive 14th on debut at Augusta in April and won his first PGA Tour event on bent grass last season at the Wyndham.
50/1 on the boy from Tennessee seems too long with Coral this week. After all this is a guy who finished 3rd at The Masters in 2008. This guy can putt on bent grass greens! Finished 42nd here on debut in 2009 doesn’t sound remarkable BUT he had missed 4 consecutive cuts and afterwards went on to finish 2nd and 5th. 8th at Pebble Beach last week suggests he has found a little form and like both Taylor and Moore knows that a win here will propel him into real Ryder Cup team contention. Like Moore won his only PGA Tour event at Sedgefield Golf Club when winning the Wyndham in 2007 on bent greens with a winning score of -22!
Like at St Jude a fortnight ago, I’m keen on the streaky Taylor again this week. He never delivered in Memphis but again showed that his game is just a click away from contention. Both of his wins on Tour have been on slower bent grass and Taylor almost won at Houston in April, losing in a play off to Anthony Kim again on a bent mix. Quietly gone about compiling 3 Top 10 finishes in 2010 and 12th here in 05 shows he can play the course. 2nd to Matt Kuchar at the Turning Stone again on fast bent in 2009 also jumps off the page. As short as 66/1 elsewhere suggests to me the market makers are undecided on the Georgian this week so I’ll take the 110s on offer.
Odds and bookmaker offers correct 17:00BST 22.6.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
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