TPC River Highlands
TPC River Highlands
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Bentgrass; 5,500 square feet on average.
Rough: 3.5” Kentucky Bluegrass, fine fescue and perennial ryegrass
Water Hazards: 5
Course Architect: Robert J. Ross and Maurice Kerney (1928); Pete Dye (1982); Bobby Weed (1989)
Winner’s Share: $1,116,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Ken Duke beat Chris Stroud on the second playoff hole for his first TOUR victory
Dates: June 19-22
Notes: 156 players will be cut to the top 70 and ties.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 22 of 31 events in 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Brendon Todd and Ben Crane have won for the USA.
Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed five victories. Hideki Matsuyama joins Seung-yul Noh as the Asian representatives and Martin Kaymer has been a one-man-gang for Europe with his two massive victories.
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd and Matsuyama are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had nine in 31 events so far in 2014. #onpace Erik Compton gave it a shot but nobody was catching the German last week.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, flew the flag before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Since the first major, Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32), Adam Scott (33) and Ben Crane (38) have added to the prime-timers trophy case.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer TWICE (29), Brendon Todd (28) and Hideki Matsuyama (22), are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.
Australian John Senden, 42, won at Tampa Bay for the only W for the “Old Guys” this season. Jim Furyk's T12 was the best at Pinehurst.
Pay Attention: It’s FREE!
Ken Duke was the fourth, first-time winner in the last four years and sixth in the last eight.
Marc Leishman and Greg Norman are the only Australian winners in 62 previous editions of the Travelers.
Since 2000, only Leishman and Freddie Jacobson (2011) are the only foreign-born winners.
Of the multiple winners, only Phil Mickelson has won both times since the turn of the century. Mickelson is the only player to defend his title as well (2001-02)
J.J. Henry (2006) and Kenny Perry (2008) have the largest margin of victory, three strokes, since 2000. Every other result has been by one shot or in a playoff.
Patrick Cantlay, 60, has the course record.
Kenny Perry, 258 (-22), has the tournament record.
The largest Sunday comebacks are seven shots by Brad Faxon in 2005 and six shots by Leishman in 2012.
Of the last 10 tournaments, five have ended in a playoff including three of the last four. #extragolf
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer are the only players on TOUR with multiple victories in the 2013-14. Only Patrick Reed has a chance to match Walker on three wins this week as the others are idle.
This Will Win You a Bar Bet
The only two players to wire this event (with no ties) are Gene Littler (1959) and Tim Norris (1982).
Past Champions Since 2000
2013: Ken Duke -12
2012: Marc Leishman -14
2011: Freddie Jacobson -20
2010: Bubba Watson -14
2009: Kenny Perry -22
2008: Stewart Cink -18
2007: Hunter Mahan -15
2006: J.J. Henry -14
2005: Brad Faxon -14
2004: Woody Austin -10
Inside the Ropes
Established in 1952, this will be the 63rd edition of the Travelers Championship. It’s the one of the longest-running tournaments in the world and this week will serve as a nice come-down after the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
As I have pointed out before, when the TOUR pros see TPC in front of the course they are playing they usually lick their lips and loosen up the shoes as they know birdies will be the order of the week. After a grueling test for everyone not named Kaymer last week, TPC River Highlands should be a sight for sore eyes.
Over the last 10 years, the average winning score has hovered around 15-under-par 265. Kenny Perry set the standard at 22-under, 258 in 2008 while Woody Austin has the highest winning total of 10-under, 270 in 2004. TPC River Highlands averaged over-par scoring last season for the first time since 2007 so the pros will be happy to be circling bushels of birdies this week for the first time since TPC Louisiana in late April.
The course plays just over 6,800 yards so the big boppers will have no problem getting it down the fairways but the lighter hitters can also prosper. With the rough playing at 3.5” hitting fairways won’t hurt but the greens are only running 10.5’ on the Stimpmeter so even those who are loose with the putter can also contend as three putts will be easier to avoid.
Over the last 10 years a mix of bombers and short-game artists have prospered on this short-ish track and I would expect nothing different this year. I’m looking for players who avoid bogeys and have no problems finding birdies. Those who hit the most greens have had past successes just the same as those who hole plenty of putts on greens where aggressive putting is rewarded.
With only two par fives the pros will have to make birdies on the par fours and par three as well and avoid crooked numbers if they are to make any noise on the weekend. Patrick Cantlay found 60 in his second-ever round on the course and 61s and 62s aren’t exactly rare. The finishing four holes will get the players attention but there are plenty of scoring opportunities to get ahead.
With spring ending and summer kicking off this weekend, it wouldn’t surprise me if weather played a part in the festivities, but, like you, I’ll patiently wait for #WeathermanRob’s forecast Wednesday evening before panicking.