This week marks the 32nd event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour heads to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship. A field of 156 players will tee it up this week at TPC River Highlands, where birdie is the name of the game and scores are often low as a result.
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Ken Duke returns to defend the title he won here a year ago in a playoff over Chris Stroud. Here are 10 players to watch this week outside Hartford:
1. Bubba Watson: This is one of the original homes of "Bubba Golf," as Watson notched his first PGA Tour title here back in 2010. Since then he has added a runner-up in 2012 and a fourth-place showing last year when he held a share of the 54-hole lead. Watson enjoys getting creative at TPC River Highlands, and his results bear that out.
2. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar is making just his second start here since 2008, but his other Travelers appearance netted a tie for eighth in 2012. He has been a fantasy machine this year, with one win and nine top-10 finishes in 16 starts, and his missed cut at Colonial is his only finish outside the top 20 since March. Expect another solid showing.
3. Keegan Bradley: His results at TPC River Highlands have gotten progressively better: T-63 in 2011, T-29 in 2012, T-18 in 2013. Bradley's tie for fourth at Pinehurst was his third top-10 finish in his last eight starts, and he is keenly aware of the move he needs to make to crack the top nine in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings. This week could go a long way toward that end.
4. Jason Day: Day hasn't played in Cromwell since a tie for 27th back in 2008 when he was just 20 years old, but he enters of a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open last week. After missing several weeks with a left thumb injury, the Aussie has given himself a clean bill of health and if that's the case, he should be considered a factor every time he tees it up.
5. Ryan Moore: Moore led the field in putting last year while finishing T-7, his third top-15 finish at TPC River Highlands since 2009. Moore was a runner-up here in both 2006 and 2011 and is currently inside the top 25 on Tour in driving accuracy, GIR percentage and birdie average.
6. Hunter Mahan: Mahan got his first PGA Tour win at this event back in 2007, the highlight of a four-year stretch from 2006-2009 when he finished no worse than fourth. He hasn't had quite the same success since, but top-25 finishes in both 2012 and 2013 show that he still has what it takes to tame TPC River Highlands.
7. Dustin Johnson: Johnson had another close call at a major, but his T-4 finish at the U.S. Open continues his strong 2013-14 campaign. A winner earlier this season in China, DJ added top-five finishes at Pebble Beach, Riviera and Doral. He has the length to take advantage of any setup on the PGA Tour, but especially the relatively short confines in Cromwell.
8. Charley Hoffman: Along with Bubba Watson, Hoffman is the only player to finish inside the top 10 each of the past two years at this event, having tied for second in 2012 and tied for seventh last year, when he fired a 61 in the opening round. Hoffman has quietly put together a solid season, with nine straight cuts made and a T-19 finish at Memorial in his last start.
9. Sergio Garcia: The Spaniard failed to factor at the U.S. Open, but he left with a solid T-35 finish after two third-place results in his prior three starts. The knee injury that forced him out of the BMW PGA Championship does not appear to be an issue, and if that's the case Garcia could factor as he makes his first trip to Cromwell since 2009.
10. Brooks Koepka: Koepka hit the jackpot Sunday at Pinehurst, finishing tied for fourth and earning a 2014-15 Tour card and a berth to the Masters in the process. One year after playing on the Challenge Tour in Europe, he has shown that he can stack up against the game's best and his game should suit TPC River Highlands in his first appearance.