For those golfers who took part in the US Open, it’s a cross-country trip to tee up at this week’s Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands, Connecticut.
Those that have include the new champ Webb Simpson, whose 16/1 price tag this week is a far cry from the 80/1 that was chalked up about his chances at the Olympic Club. He’s bound to be feeling some mental and physical exhaustion, though, and bookmakers prefer the chances of Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar, who are 14/1 joint favourites with most firms. The European challenge is headed by Padraig Harrington (22/1), who played as well as he’s done in a long time when fourth at the Olympic, and Fredrik Jacobson (28/1), who was bang in the mix going into the final round before fading into 15th.
Whilst par was a good score last week, it simply will not do here, with plenty of birdies and eagles assured on what is officially the easiest par-70 track used on Tour all season. To give you an indication of how easy the course is, the last 18 winners have all recorded double-digit winning totals and the 18-hole course record is 60, which was set by Patrick Cantley 12 months ago. Length off the tee will help as always but this track is more about finding fairways and greens, and the key to a good score will be to avoid those unforced errors, thus keeping your chance of birdie alive.
My Three Against the Field:-
Ryan Moore @ 25/1 Ladbrokes
The clear policy this week is to swerve those players who endured the slog of playing four rounds at the Olympic for fresher legs instead. My first pick would have been watching the carnage on TV and will be nicely rested as a result coming into an event he has finished runner-up twice (on his debut in 2006 and last year) and fourth in 2009, while his scoring average for his last 12 rounds here is 66.17. Clearly, this course suits his eye well and there’s enough in his recent form figures to suggest he’s near to his best, with a fourth place finish at Bay Hill and fifth at Quail Hollow the standouts. It’s surprising he has just the one win to his name given his talent, but he’s only just turned 30 – a landmark birthday for any golfer – and this week’s test provides the perfect opportunity to double that tally.
Andres Romero @ 66/1 Betfred
The Argentine is a hard player to catch right (I should know!) but when he does get hot, he invariably stays hot for a week or two before disappearing off the radar again. His superb second place at the Memorial last time out is highly significant then and he will be eager to get back out there having not qualified for the US Open. A further boost to his chances can be gleaned from his play here 12 months ago, when finishing tied-second in birdies and fifth in putting on his way to sixth place. If he comes even close to repeating those stats this week, we can expect a return on our investment.
John Merrick @ 70/1 bet365
Unlike my first two picks, Merrick has yet to breakthrough on Tour but this event is renowned for throwing out first-time winners (the last two, in fact) and there are good grounds for thinking the American can join that club. For starters, he’s another player who missed the gig in San Francisco, ensuring he’s nice and fresh for this, while we know he likes the track following a brace of top-11s in his last three starts here. Throw in the fact he finished solo second at the St Jude Classic two weeks ago and a 70/1 price tag (hurry as that is standout), and you have all the makings of a knocking good each-way bet.
Ryan Moore 2pts each-way @ 25/1 Ladbrokes
Andres Romero 1pt each-way @ 66/1 Betfred
John Merrick 1pt each-way @ 70/1 bet365