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.

Getty Images

McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

Getty Images

Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

Getty Images

Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

Getty Images

Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.