With the season's second major now in the rear-view mirror, the PGA Tour heads to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship. TPC River Highlands hosts a field that includes the newest U.S. Open champion, as players will be greeted by a course that will yield far more birdies than last week's grueling test at Merion.
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Marc Leishman returns as defending champion, having claimed his maiden PGA Tour win thanks to a final-round 62 a year ago. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Hartford:
1. Hunter Mahan: The event's all-time leading money winner, Mahan enters off a tie for fourth at Merion where he played in the final group on Sunday. A winner here in 2007, Mahan also finished T-2 in 2008, T-4 in 2009 and T-11 a year ago.
2. Lee Westwood: Perhaps inspired by his countryman's triumph at Merion, Westwood enters in the midst of a solid season in need of a highlight. Outside of his performance at Muirfield Village, the Englishman has now logged five top-15 finishes in his last six starts, including a T-15 result at the U.S. Open.
3. Bubba Watson: A winner here in 2010, the former Masters champion was also co-runner-up last year. Watson's go-for-broke style often pays dividends on courses that require low scores, and much is expected this week of the southpaw that currently ranks fifth on Tour in both birdie average and GIR percentage.
4. Jason Dufner: Still trying to reach the heights he achieved a year ago, Dufner recorded a season-best finish at Merion thanks to a Sunday 67 that could have been much lower. He'll look to carry that momentum to TPC River Highlands, entering the week inside the top 30 on Tour in both driving accuracy and GIR percentage.
5. Rickie Fowler: Fowler's tie for 10th at the U.S. Open was his fourth top-10 result of the season, and helped to break a mini-streak of relative futility since the Florida Swing. Fowler is teeing it up here for the first time since 2010, when he tied for 13th despite opening with a 1-over 71 in the first round.
6. Justin Rose: Fresh off his win at Merion, Rose spent the better part of two days handling media requests. Though he was T-9 in 2010, his most recent appearance in Hartford, some letdown can be expected as the Englishman tees it up for the first time as a major champion.
7. Keegan Bradley: The New England native has had a tumultuous season, with each start since March resulting in either a top-10 (five) or a T-50 or worse result (five, with three missed cuts). In front of friendly crowds this week, expect the former PGA champion to bounce back from a poor showing at Merion.
8. Fredrik Jacobson: The Swede recorded his lone PGA Tour victory here in 2011, and enters the week eighth on Tour in scoring average. While he has missed each of his last two cuts, Jacobson tied for eighth here last year and earlier this season notched a streak of seven straight top-25 finishes.
9. Brendon de Jonge: The Zimbabwean hopes to follow in the footsteps of Jacobson (2011) and Leishman (2012) as international players that scored a maiden win at TPC River Highlands. De Jonge has eight top-25 finishes this year and currently sits 12th in GIR percentage and 18th in the all-around ranking.
10. Charley Hoffman: Hoffman has made the cut in eight of his last nine starts overall, with five resulting in top-20 finishes. A year ago, he appeared in position to hoist the trophy in Hartford before a disappointing finish left him in a tie for second.