Now that the pressure and prestige of the PGA Tour’s third major, the U.S. Open, is behind them, the pros try to deal with a stretch of military golf … right, left, right.
Mystified? Well, we’ll give you the short version. Two weeks ago, the Tour teed it up in Hamilton, Ontario, in the eastern time zone. Then it’s a quick jaunt all the way across the country to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on the West Coast. This week, it’s the Travelers Championship being held at TPC River Highlands on, you guessed it, the East Coast in Cromwell, Conn.
If you’ve traveled much, you know jet lag is a major factor just making one long-range jaunt, especially for us mere mortals. But, even if these guys are traveling private, it’s no easy task getting acclimated for one trip, let alone three straight weeks.
Imagine having just gone from having dinner at Pebble Beach and now you’re losing three hours and having breakfast and getting set for a practice or pro-am session at 7 a.m. in Connecticut when you’re supposed to be asleep (4 a.m. on the West Coast).
It can be daunting. It can be mind-numbing. It can be debilitating to the body and the golf swing.
Adjusting quickly and to the change of coasts and golf courses will be the key this week. This TPC layout, a 6,841-yard, par-70 beauty, is hosting a PGA Tour event for the 36th year and should be child’s play compared to Pebble Beach and a USGA setup.
We’re going with someone who barely made the cut last week and had the chance to get out of town a little early and work on whatever swing deficiencies may have hampered him: Patrick Cantlay at 10-1.
The reasoning is two-fold. Cantlay is just a few weeks removed from his second career PGA Tour win at Jack’s Place in the Memorial so his confidence is high. Last week at the U.S. Open he made the cut on the number despite a bogey on his final hole of the second round. But just making the cut gave him two more days to work on his game as he rallied for a T21 finish.
Now he takes that focus 3,107 miles from Pebble Beach to TPC River Highlands. Cantlay tied for 15th last year at this event but it’s his recent play that has us optimistic about the pick … but cautiously so.
In his last five events he has three top-3 finishes, a MC and a rebound weekend at the U.S. Open. It’s been feast or famine. And mostly feast as in 15 events in this wraparound season he owns 11 top-25 finishes. He should be in the hunt.
One other guy worth a very hard look is Paul Casey at 16-1. He led by four during last year’s tournament but couldn’t close it out and lost to a hard-charging Bubba Watson who finished up with a 7-under-par 63. Casey also lost the title, this time in a playoff, in 2015 to … Watson. So if he can stay in a positive frame of mind and ahead of Watson, look for him to be around come Sunday.
The favorite this week is, surprise, Brooks Koepka at 7-1. But remember, this isn’t a major, which seems to be his specialty. He’s had a grinding last few weeks ending up with a runner-up at last week’s U.S. Open. But with the Open Championship on the horizon next month, he may already be in ‘major’ mode and looking ahead.
We also have a flier for this week (remember Vegas’ own Kevin Na earlier in the year at 50-1?). This one is another Vegas player, Charley Hoffman, also at 50-1.
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