2009 Travelers Championship Preview and Picks

The Travelers Championship
Thurs. June 25 – Sun. June 28, 2009
TPC River Highlands – Cromwell, CT
The Golf Channel/CBS

by Matt of Predictem.com

After the lengthy weekend that was the U.S. Open, many players and fans might be seeking a bit of a vacation, but the PGA Tour moves to Connecticut this week for the Travelers Championship. Stewart Cink is back at the TPC River Highlands to defend his 2008 title and we’ll likely see a shootout as many players cracked double digits under par with the winning total at minus-18. Check out all the actionfrom the early rounds on the Golf Channel with CBS picking up the weekend broadcast.

The TPC at River Highlands will be a welcomesight to those coming over from Bethpage Black, but everyone will have to birdie early and often to stay in it on this 6,841, par-70 course. This course ranked 38th (16th easiest) on Tour in 2008 with nearly every hole presenting birdie opportunities to well played shots. The course does sport 119 bunkers and 5 water hazards to penalize the players, but good course management should eliminate that trouble. The course record is 61, achieved on four occasions, all since 2001.

Each week, we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and make some picks to win. We’ll give you a short, middle and long odds pick to win the event and breakdown a few head to head matches as well. This week’s odds to win and line info come courtesy of the board at Superbook. Here are some players to watch at the Travelers Championship.

Short: Hunter Mahan (12 to 1 to win)
Hunter has been very consistent this year, making the cut in all 15 of his starts with 9 top-25 finishes. Mahan’s last two finishes were a T14 and T6 with the latter coming at Bethpage where he went even-par for the championship. Mahan won this event in 2007 and was runner-up by one stroke in his title defense. 7th in total driving and 21st in greens hit has Hunter in 10th for total ballstriking and a solid putter nets the 6th best birdie average. Mahan ranks 5th and 6th in par-3 and par-4 birdie percentage, a nice stat to have on a course with only two par-5’s.

Middle: David Toms (20 to 1)
Toms is also having a solid 2009, missing only four cuts in fifteen starts with six top-10’s including two T2’s. Toms did get off to a good start at the Open before missing the cut after a second round 76, but that should be good from a fatigue standpoint. Toms is 9th in total driving, 1st in fairways and 17th in GIR%, good for 8th in overall ballstriking and he comes in with the 2nd best scoring average on Tour. David is inside the top-11 in scoring in all four rounds and his aggregate 27-under on all par-4’s is tops so far this year.

Longshot: Ryan Moore (50 to 1)
We don’t call it a longshot for nothing. Moore has only seen the weekend in half of his 16 starts, but he did tie for 10th last week and was runner-up here in 2006. Ryan is long off andhis fairway % was looking good at the Open, but his strength is with the putter. Moore is a top-50 putter in terms of per round average, but ranks 8th in putts holed outside 25 feet and 12th in all putts in the 5 to 15 foot range. A good week with the irons should give our longshot a solid look.

Head to Head Matches (our pick)
* all matches are for entire event, check with your favorite sportsbook for single round matches, updated daily.

Stewart Cink (-115) v. Kenny Perry (-115) (Perry)
Picking against the defending champ is taking a strong stance, especially when Cink has won twice on this course. but Perry is the clear statistical favorite here. The big advantages come in greens and fairways hit with Perry inside the top-10 in both while Cink lags outside the top-75. It’s no suprise that Perry outranks Cink by 66 spots when it comes to scoring average after checking out the stat sheet.

Steve Marino (-115) v. Bubba Watson (-115) (Marino)
Watson is the longest driver on Tour, but I’d rather have Marino here and his 18th ranked total driving stat. Marino also holds a serious advantage in ballstriking, GIR%, fairways and scoring.

Good Luck this week!