The Travelers Championship is one of a handful of events on the PGA Tour to be shunted about by golf’s return to the Olympics. However, the event organisers have not taken their new position after the US PGA Championship as a negative. They’ve spent the extra month they’ve got to prepare by making a number of changes to the course at TPC River Highlands.
The championship course still measures at around 6,800 yards and it still contains only two par fives to make a total par score of 70. However, every hole has had some work done to it to make the challenges posed more relevant to the world’s best players. You may think that the removal of a number of trees and bunkers would only make the challenge easier but River Highlands is now a tougher test of strategy. All the remaining hazards are very much in play while the fairways have been narrowed to make the tee shots look quite dramatically different.
One player who would have loved the course to stay the same is Bubba Watson. Bubba is a two time winner at TPC River Highlands and comes into this week as the defending champion. He clearly felt at home with the old design of the course and will need to put in a lot of work alongside his caddie Ted Scott to plot a route around the new challenge.
Those two had a famous falling out during the 2013 Travelers Championship but they remain a formidable team at the very top of the game. Bubba has the ability to hit shots that nobody else in the world would attempt. Using that unique vision of his, he should be able to quickly get to grips with the course changes which makes him look a very good bet at 14/1 with Ladbrokes.
One of the key aims of the course changes at TPC River Highlands was to reinvigorate the risk-reward element of the course. The new sightlines off the tee will tempt many players to hit riskier shots than they would have contemplated but it is still a course which will reward sensible players who have a world class wedge game.
That is great news for Jim Furyk. The experienced American has been a little up and down since returning from injury only a couple of months ago but he’s recorded some very promising results this season and excels at tricky, relatively short courses. Furyk is one of the PGA Tour’s highest earning players and looks too big at 40/1 with Coral to ignore for an each way bet.
Jamie Donaldson made a very good start to last week’s US PGA Championship but just couldn’t keep it going over the weekend. Still, he finished the tournament under par which was very welcome after a tough few months. Interestingly, the Welshman ranks second for strokes gained putting on the PGA Tour this season. If he can keep his ball out of trouble and hit high quality approach shots into the greens, Donaldson will take enough birdie chances to make him look a decent long odds shot at 150/1 with Betfred.