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Travelers Championship Preview: Can Bubba Bounce Back?

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

As Martin Kaymer coasted to victory last weekend, I tried to recall a time when such domination was considered entertaining. Hard as it is to believe, many, including yours truly, thought it was quite fascinating when Tiger Woods was dominating the PGA Tour. Unfortunately, as we've discovered over the last five years or so, Tiger Woods was a once in a generation phenomenon. So when someone like Martin Kaymer, who to be fair is no slouch, dominates a major like he did at the U.S. Open, well, it's just plain boring. Sorry, it's true.

Kaymer so dismantled the course and the field that the weekend was nothing more than a formality. Never once did it feel like Kaymer was going to surrender his lead, and never once did anyone behind him make a serious charge. The entire weekend consisted of magnifying Kaymer's every move and hoping beyond hope that a crack would appear so Sunday's final round would have some relevance. That moment never came, and those of us who spent several hours on Sunday watching the U.S. Open were left a bit unfulfilled. Mind you, this was not Kaymer's fault, he did exactly what every golfer on the PGA Tour would love to do any week, but when a guy actually pulls it off, it's just not that exciting.

Perhaps Kaymer becomes that golfer, though -- the one we love to watch when he's destroying the field. The PGA Tour could definitely use a guy like that. But if my math is correct, Kaymer is part of the Tiger Woods generation, and, therefore, he can't be the guy. Guess we'll have to wait another 10 years before domination is exciting again.

This week:
Travelers Championship - TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Conn.

Last Year:
Ken Duke shot a final-round 66 on his way to a playoff victory over Chris Stroud.

Players to Consider:

Bubba Watson

Watson is coming off his worst performance of the season, but that is actually a positive for this week. Watson will want to get that sour taste out of his mouth ASAP, and considering his strong track record here, he'll likely get back on track quickly.

Freddie Jacobson

Jacobson won this event in 2011 and has finished no worse than T30 in his two starts since. Jacobson has also played well for the better part of the last three months, missing one cut in his last 11 starts.

Dustin Johnson

Johnson doesn't play here often, and when he has, he's had little success, but it looked like he found something in his game last week at the U.S. Open. If that's the case, he could be in the mix this week.

Ben Crane

Like DJ, Crane does not have a strong track record at this event, yet his recent form is strong. In Crane's case, when we last saw him he was winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic. If any of that form carries over to this week, he could be a contender.

Ryan Moore

Moore is in pretty decent form entering this week, and his track record at this event is pretty strong. Moore has four top-15s in his last five starts here, including a runner-up and another top-5.

Players to Avoid:

Vijay Singh

Singh's had some solid showings here over the years, but his play at this event the last five years has been poor. The state of his overall game entering this week leaves plenty to be desired as well.

Ken Duke

Duke caught fire and won this event last year, but his play since has been poor for the most part. A return to the site of his triumphant victory is probably not enough to pull him out of his rut.

Nick Watney

The track record is not the problem for Watney, he's actually been really strong here over the years. The problem is his current play, which is awful. He's too good to fade into obscurity, but a resurrection this week is probably too much to ask.

Kevin Stadler

Although he hasn't spent that much time on the PGA Tour, Stadler has certainly put in his time at this event, playing eight times in the last nine years. The only problem is he hasn't had much luck here, with his best finish coming last year at T51.

Harris English

English started the season in great form, but he's fallen on hard times recently. English has missed the cut in three of his last five starts, and his history here indicates that the trend of missed cuts might continue this week.


Last week:
Phil Mickelson (MC) - $59,588; Season - $2,895,545

This week:
Freddie Jacobson - He's playing well again this season, and this looks like the best spot to use him, so I'll pull the trigger on Jacobson this week.


Rank: 27,793

This Week:

Group A:
Bubba Watson, Ryan Moore

Group B:
Dustin Johnson, Freddie Jacobson, Jason Day, Hunter Mahan

Group C:
Charley Hoffman, Sergio Garcia


Last week:
Steve Stricker; Streak - 1

This week:
Ryan Moore - Moore has missed the cut here just once in eight starts, and he generally plays well on the weekend here, so he's definitely locked in on this course.

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