2008 Travelers Championship Review
Thursday June 19 Sunday June 22, 2008
TPC River Highlands Cromwell , CT
by Matt of Predictem.com
With the golf world focused on the implications of a Tiger-less Tour for the rest of 08, Stewart Cink was busy notching his first win of the year in Connecticut at the Travelers Championship. Cink entered the event as the favorite with many of the Tours best taking the week off after a grueling U.S. Open, and he proved he deserved the title with an all-around effort that resulted in a one stroke victory over defending champion Hunter Mahan and Tommy Armour III.
The win was a defining statement in an already strong season that had Cink leading the Tour in top-10 finishes. For the week, Cink finished at 18-under par, including a final round 67 that cemented the win and earned the Georgia native the $1.08 million dollar winners share of the purse. The victory was Cinks fifth overall, and second at The Travelers, where he had previously won in 1997. This week marked only the second time that Cink finished off a win when he held the 54 hole lead.
Cink was challenged throughout, not only by his competitors, but by Mother Nature as well. PGA Officials sent the players out early and in threesomes as thunderstorms were forecasted for the afternoon. They did arrive as scheduled and play was halted for about an hour to let the lightning pass. Neither the weather nor a pair of 65s by Mahan and Armour were enough to take down the eventual champ who made a workmans par on 18, sinking a two-footer after his drive found the gallery. The putt preserved the one shot advantage and eliminated the possibility of a three way playoff.
Hunter Mahan made a serious run at consecutive Travelers wins with a solid week that saw him shoot a 7-under par, 63 on Friday to go along with a closing 65. Mahan birdied 17 and 18 on Sunday to position himself for a potential playoff, but had to settle for a T2 at 17-under, 263 overall. In the last three years, Mahan has run second, first and second at TPC River Highlands. Remember that for the 09 event.
At 48 years old, Tommy Armour III was an unlikely suitor for the crown and looked to strike a blow against the youngsters on Tour with a win for the older set. Armour nearly pulled off the trick with a 65/65 weekend that followed a 64 on Friday. A birdie on 17 got him to within one and he had a 40-footer on 18 to tie, but the putt stayed up and the charge finished one short at 17-under.
Heath Slocum came into the week off a top-10 at the Open and kept the good run going with a Saturday 64, which had him two back going into Sunday. Playing alongside Cink, Slocum fired birdies at the leader all day, but most of were answered, before a bogey on 16 ended the run. Slocum finished alone in fourth at 16-under, 264 total.
Much like Cink, Vijay Singh has seen solid results in 08, but was looking for his first win as well. Vijay was tied for the lead early when Cink bogeyed number four, but a Singh bogey on the par-5, 13th ended the title hopes. Vijay finished four back at 14-under, in solo fifth.
Kenny Perry kept his run to the Ryder Cup Team alive with a T6 at 13-under, and Chris DiMarco found the top-15 for the first time in a while, finishing at 11-under in a tie for 13th.
Not Quite the Open
The players that made the trip to Connecticut from the years second Major found an easier go of it at TPC River Highlands than at Torrey Pines. Among the players making at 3-under or better, only 7 of the 71 failed to break par for the event. Low scores were the norm, with many players firing all four rounds in the 60s, including the top nine finishers.
Sunday saw both Corey Pavin and Michael Allen vault into the top-10 with 6-under, 64s. Those scores contributed to a Sunday scoring average of 66.75 for the top-10 places including ties. D.J. Trahan, Chad Campbell and Kevin Streelman all carded a 62 on Saturday for the low round of the tournament and Streelmans 63 Friday helped earn him his first top-10 on the PGA Tour.
Any winner on Tour will have had a good week stat wise to earn the victory, but not many have been as consistent across the board as Cink was this week. For the event, Cink was 4th in driving distance, which went well with the 10th most fairways hit. Stewart remained above average in greens hit, ranking 26th for the week, but really made some hay on the greens, carding the 8th fewest putts.
With the win, Cink also adds another top-10 to his 08 resume, his 7th, and five of those have been top-3 finishes. The 6th ranked player in the world moves to 3rd on both the Money List and the FedExCup Points list. Cink is now 2nd in Ryder Cup Points, which is essentially the top spot with Tiger announcing his knee will keep him off Captain Azingers U.S. Team.
Looking at the Tour as a whole, Tiger still dominates the FedExCup List with over 22,000 points earned in just 6 events. That lead will disappear with his absence, leaving Phil Mickelson and Stewart Cink as the frontrunners, each with over 15,000 points and 4,000 ahead of 4th place Justin Leonard. Kenny Perry sneaks into the top-5 with another strong showing and Vijay Singh now sits in 8th, the only player in the top-10 without benefit of a victory this year.
Talking Money List, Tigers four wins have netted over $5.7 million in earnings, but Phil and Cink are ready to blow by at nearly $4 million a piece. Justin Leonard is in the fourth spot at just under $3 million and Geoff Ogilvy rounds out the top-5 at $2.74 million earned. There are thirteen players that have accumulated over $2 million so far, with Robert Allenby the last of the group at $2.016, and there are 55 golfers that have cashed at least 1 million in checks this year. Remember when that was a good year for any one player?
Heres a look at how our 2008 Travelers Championship betting picks faired.
For the Win:
Short: Stewart Cink 14 to 1 - Stu ends his dry spell and pays us well considering most favs typically run in the 8-10 to 1 range.
Middle: Carl Petterson 28 to 1 - Two rounds of even-par 70 left Petterson back at 7-under, T37.
Longshot: Woody Austin 50 to 1 We have been doing well with the long looks on the year, but Woody came up with a pair of 71s and a MC.
Stewart Cink (-120) v Vijay Singh (-120) (our pick: Cink) W
This was the favorites match that we called for with both players tied for the lead in the early goings. A bogey on 13 for Singh proved to be a two shot swing and Cink stayed ahead from there.