Fact Pack: Travelers Championship

By Will GrayJune 19, 2012, 7:00 pm

This week the PGA Tour gets back into action following last week's dramatic U.S. Open. The host course is TPC River Highlands, and where par was the goal last week at Olympic, players will be looking for birdies early and often in Connecticut. Fredrik Jacobson defends his lone PGA Tour title against a field that includes each of the last three major champions - Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. With that in mind, here is a look inside the numbers to see which players may contend for the title and help your Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge team in the process:

Few players enjoy TPC River Highlands more than Ryan Moore. Twice a runner-up in this event including last year, Moore has been under par in 11 of his 12 rounds here. In 2011 he played the par-4 holes a collective -9, and as he currently ranks ninth on Tour in par-4 birdie or better percentage there is reason to think he will put forth a similar performance this year. He is looking to return to the form he had earlier this season when he logged three top-10 finishes in four starts from Bay Hill to Quail Hollow.

• Newly-crowned U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson will be one of many making the cross-country trek from the Olympic Club to Hartford for this week's event. Another strong showing may be in the cards for the newest major champion; last year Simpson led the field in putts per round en route to a T-13 finish. It was the second time that Simpson had led the Travelers field in that category, and he has recorded only one round over par in four career starts.

Patrick Cantlay will be making his first start as a professional this week at the place where he first gained notoriety a year ago. A second-round 60 vaulted Cantlay to the top of the Travelers leaderboard in 2011, and his T-24 finish was the second of four consecutive top-25 showings on Tour last summer that included the U.S. Open, AT&T National and RBC Canadian Open. The 20-year-old is coming off top-50 finishes at both the Masters and U.S. Open this year as an amateur.

• Defending champion Fredrik Jacobson continues to defy the notion that strong statistical rankings are a requirement for good performance. Despite sitting outside the top 100 on Tour in driving distance, driving accuracy, greens in regulation percentage, total driving and the all-around ranking, Jacobson notched his sixth top-20 finish of the season last week at Olympic. The Swede has now finished 19th or better in four of his last five major starts dating back to the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.

• Typically TPC River Highlands places a strong emphasis on putting. Four of the last five winners of this event have finished in the top eight in putts per round for the week, and you have to go back to Woody Austin in 2004 to find a winner who ranked outside the top 13 in the category. Coming off his runner-up finish at the U.S. Open, Michael Thompson is the highest-ranked putter in this week's field, currently third on Tour in total putting and fifth in strokes gained putting.

• No one has won more money at this event than Hunter Mahan. In addition to his 2007 victory, Mahan also finished runner-up in both 2006 and 2008, adding a T-4 finish in 2009 to cap an impressive four year stretch. He currently ranks third on Tour in ball-striking and eighth in par-3 performance. Nine of Mahan's 34 career Travelers Championship rounds were completed in 65 strokes or fewer.

• After two weeks off, John Huh will resume his strong rookie campaign this week in Connecticut. Huh has five top-25 finishes in his last eight starts, including a runner-up finish at the Valero Texas Open and a T-5 showing at Colonial. He currently ranks seventh in Tour in driving accuracy and eighth in total putting, a combination that could lead to yet another high finish this week at TPC River Highlands.

Bo Van Pelt may be poised for a breakthrough result in a season full of close calls. Van Pelt has five top-10 finishes on Tour, but none higher than a T-7 showing at The Players. He currently stands fourth on Tour in strokes gained putting, fifth in total driving and sixth in the all-around ranking, and five of his last seven Travelers starts have resulted in top-25 finishes.

**Don't forget to join Fantasy Expert Rob Bolton for a live golf chat Wednesday at 12:00p ET at www.rotoworld.com** 

Tune in to Golf Channel Thursday-Friday from 3P-6P ET for live coverage of the Travelers Championship.

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

Cook was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back.

Bubba (64) fires his lowest round of 2017

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:12 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bubba Watson’s plan when he left the Dell Technologies Championship in September was to take a few months off and come back fresh in 2018

Those plans changed after a few weeks.

“What we figured out was the mental side, preparing for kindergarten - not for me, for my son - preparing for [wife] Angie's knee surgery. It's been a tough go,” Watson said.

“Being home and being with the family and everything, I realized how much I missed the game of golf, and that's why I wanted to come and play in these tournaments.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

The plan has paid off this week at the RSM Classic, where Watson is tied for 12th place after a second-round 64 on the Seaside course moved him to 7 under par.

Watson, who tied for 51st two weeks ago in Las Vegas, got off to a quick start on Day 2, playing the opening nine in 29. Despite a miscue at the 14th hole, when his tee shot wedged into a tree, he was solid coming in for his best individual round this year.

The left-hander was particularly sharp with his ball-striking after what has been a difficult year.

“I want to play golf now and right now I'm swinging at it pretty nicely,” he said.

S.H. Park (65) builds three-shot lead at LPGA finale

By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2017, 9:58 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Golf felt so easy to Sung Hyun Park that only when she took out her card to catch up on her scores did she realize she had closed out the front nine with five straight birdies at the CME Group Tour Championship.

Park kept right on attacking.

The 24-year-old from South Korea added a 30-foot eagle putt late in her second round and finished with a 7-under 65, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at Tiburon Golf Club.

Nothing seems to bother her, even the chance to cap off an amazing rookie season by sweeping all the big awards on the LPGA Tour.

''To be honest, I don't feel quite as nervous as I thought I would,'' Park said through an interpreter. ''After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I'm not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be going into today.''

Leave that to the players chasing her.

Even with a three-putt bogey on the final hole, Park was at 12-under 132 and was three shots clear of Caroline Masson (66) and Sarah Jane Smith (69).

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

More importantly, none of the other players in the chase for the $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus or any other big award was within five shots of Park, who is trying to become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.

Lexi Thompson, who leads the Race to the CME Globe and the Vare Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average, shot a 67 and wound up losing ground. She was six shots behind and must stay within 10 shots of Park to win the Vare.

So Yeon Ryu, who leads the points-based award for player of the year, managed a 71 with her sore right shoulder but was 11 shots back.

The other two players who need to win the tournament to collect the $1 million bonus also had their work cut out for them. Brooke Henderson had another 70 and was eight shots behind, while world No. 1 Shanshan Feng shot 73 and was 11 shots behind.

Park was in control, only she didn't see it that way.

''I don't think it's quite that far of a lead,'' Park said. ''Two, three shots of a lead can change at any moment. We will have to see what's in store for this weekend.''

Park began her big run with an 18-foot birdie on No. 5, got up-and-down for birdie from just off the green at the par-5 sixth, holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 7, and then closed out the front nine with birdie putts from 8 feet and 15 feet.

''I actually didn't know that I was going five birdies in a row,'' Park said. ''Come hole No. 10, I realized that I hadn't been jotting down my scores as diligently, and so I realized it a little bit later on. And it felt great.''

That gave her the lead by one shot over Suzann Pettersen, except that Pettersen faded badly on the back nine.

Pettersen dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch by getting out of position off the tee and she shot 39 on the back nine for a 70 to fall five shots behind.

''I feel like I'm playing good,'' Pettersen said. ''Three bad drives on the back nine cost me four shots. That should not be possible on this course, where the fairways are about 100 yards wide.''

Park was honored at an awards banquet Thursday night as the LPGA rookie of the year. Now, she has more awards in her sights. A victory would give her the award for player of the year. She would capture the money title, which she leads over Ryu. And depending on how the weekend goes, she might be able to surpass Thompson in the race for the Vare Trophy.

Thompson did well to recover from two bogeys on her opening three holes.

''I hit a few really erratic shots in the beginning. It wasn't a good start to the round,'' Thompson said. ''Just tried to stay positive and find something that could work for the last 14, 15 holes.''

Lydia Ko fell six shots behind in her bid to avoid a winless season. She was one shot behind going into the second round but managed only three birdies in her round of 71.

Park, meanwhile, had everything going her way. Even when she pulled her drive on the par-5 14th into a sandy area with a root next to her ball, she picked it clear and sent it through a goal post of trees back to the fairway. Three holes later, she blasted a drive and had only a 7-iron into the green at the par-5 17th, which she hit to 30 feet and made the long putt.

Does anything make her nervous?

''I hate spiders,'' she said. ''But in terms of golf, I always get nervous to this day on the first tee. I can feel my heart pounding.''

It's a feeling that doesn't appear to last very long.