GOLF guru Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) nailed the Travelers Championship last year. Here he highlights his favourite fancies from this week’s renewal.
Travelers Championship | Thursday-Sunday | Sky Sports 4
The PGA Tour is back with us once again. The delights of Cromwell, Conneticut play host and slightly later in the year than usual it is TPC at River Highlands where the Travellers will once again entertain the week after a major championship.
The USPGA at Baltusrol was a bit of a damp squib until the back nine on Sunday and for the fifth time in just under 12 months we saw a first time major winner in Jimmy Walker – a man that had missed every cut in his last three major starts.
One thing golf betting is not and that is easy – well done if you found the winner. I could have had 20 bets and not backed Walker.
Some strange performances from Dustin Johnson, JB Holmes and as usual Rory McIlroy. I have backed Branden Grace every week for what seems like months and in the end was pleased with tied-fourth.
On to this week and a course in stark contrast to what we saw last week. TPC River Highlands is an old fashioned Resort Course, short at 6,841 yards, this par-70 can be attacked and the winning score should be something between -14 and -18.
Looking back at results from the last 10 years when this event has traditionally followed the US Open, current form seems to be irrelevant as the last three winners all missed the cut the week before.
In fact not too much jumps out when it comes to stats either. The last two winners were bombers but before that, the likes of Kevin Streelman, Ken Duke and Kenny Perry managed to top the leaderboard on Sunday.
There is possibly one common stat amongst the last few champions and that has been all finishing in the Top 20 putting stats. Half of the last 10 winners have also scored the most birdies over the four days.
In summary, this is a good old fashioned upstate shoot-out.
This is one of the easiest courses on tour, although don't be fooled completely – there is plenty of trouble to be had around the greens and scrambling will be a key feature.
I could have copied and pasted my piece from last year (I didn't, you can check, honest). It was a second winner in a row for WLB as Bubba Watson went in at 14/1.
In these days of 13/2 favourites, I was really surprised to see Bubba chalked up as a 14/1 favourite this time round. I can't remember the last time I saw a double-digit favourite and certainly not one going for his third win in this tournament.
Watson is a real horses for courses kind of player. He has won twice at Riviera and Augusta. No messing about, no smart observations or stats. You simply cannot NOT back Bubba at 14/1 (Bet365) on a course he adores in not the strongest field you will ever see.
Paul Casey is a name that appears here on a far too regular basis but I am a fan. The former world number three has everything in his game and was the runner-up here on course debut. I liked a lot of what Casey did at Baltusrol on the way to a 10th-place.
It's not always been a smart move to get on board with players who finished high up in a major the week before. For that reason, I have left Brooks Koepka and Branden Grace alone. Koepka looked like he had a tough week with his ankle injury and Grace kind of threw his chance away on holes 70, 71 and 72.
Casey did not seem to have the same kind of pressure as he was never in with a realistic chance. A solid each-way punt I think at 28/1 with BetBright.
Martin Laird (80/1 BetVictor) is a wildcard choice this week.
The Scotsman has always been a little streaky and a couple of recent Top-10s at Glen Abbey, where he was second to Jonny Vegas and a seventh at Montreaux.
Laird has good form on similar Bentgrass Poa Annua greens. Fifteenth here last year is a nice link and he was second in putting average that week, something that cannot fail to catch the eye on this kind of track.
One last each-way play for me and that is a bit of surprise (to me mostly) in Aaron Baddely – the eternally disappointing Australian who is always about to be the next big thing.
I read all the big golf tipsters on a Monday (why wouldn't you) and they have never made a pick for me but sometimes you come across something that makes all kinds of sense. That's what nudged me in his direction and I cannot find a way of leaving him out.
Should have won in 2014 when Kevin Streelman birdied the last seven holes to take one of the most stunning wins in the history of the PGA Tour, there was one stat that whacked me in the face.
Twenty-one of Baddely’s last 24 rounds at this place have been under par – that is not something I can ignore.
A win at Riviera in 2011 (where Bubba has won twice) and a winner of the Barbasol just three weeks ago. 80/1 you say? Damn right I am getting involved in that and a little punt on First Round Leader as well please
Travelers Championship – Bubba Watson to win (14/1 each-way Bet365)
Travelers Championship – Paul Casey to win (28/1 each-way BetBright)
Travelers Championship – Martin Laird to win (80/1 each-way BetVictor)
Travelers Championship – Aaron Baddely to win (80/1 each-way Bet365)
Travelers Championship – Aaron Baddely to be First Round Leader (70/1 each-way Betfred)