After a thrilling U.S. Open in the Pacific Northwest, the PGA Tour travels cross-country to the east coast for this week's Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.
Kevin Streelman returns as the defending champion to one of the most well-attended events on Tour dating back to 1952.
Birdies and eagles will be much easier to come by at TPC River Highlands than what we saw over the weekend at Chambers Bay. Heck, sometimes four rounds in the 60s won't even earn a player a top-30 finish -- just ask Freddie Jacobson. He tied for 31st a year ago with rounds of 69-69-69-67. Players need to take it deep at the Travelers, which is why it's so much fun for fans to watch.
With all that, here are the five players to keep an eye on this week.
5. Marc Leishman
Best finish in 2014-15 season: T5 at the Memorial
Reason to watch: The Aussie has three top-10 finishes this season and is a former winner in Cromwell. His T5 at the Memorial at the start of the month was his best finish of the season, one in which he made a decision to take a pass on the Masters and missed over a month of action while tending to his then very sick wife, who nearly died (since then, she has recovered). I think Leishman is in the midst of kick-starting his season. Sure, he missed the cut last week at Chambers Bay, but so did a lot of the bigger names. He'll be much more comfortable at TPC River Highlands.
4. Hunter Mahan
Best finish in 2014-15 season: T3 at the Frys.com Open
Reason to watch: Outside of that T3 at the Frys.com Open way back in October, it's been a relatively quiet season for Mahan. He did collect back-to-back T9s in the Masters and the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship, but hasn't done much else. I think we'll see that all change this week at TPC River Highlands at a tournament he won in 2007, was a runner-up in in 2008 and had a T4 in 2009. That's a solid three-year run. Mahan is one of those players who can string along tons of birdies, which is why this course suits him so well.
3. Kevin Streelman
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Second at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: You'd be hard-pressed to find a player more excited to be in Cromwell this week than Streelman. The tournament's defending champion, the Travelers Championship was also Streelman's second career win and second in as many years. Players on the Tour take great pride in stringing together seasons that include a win. Streelman is looking to make it three consecutive seasons as a winner. While there's still plenty of time left for him to accomplish that, this week figures to be one where he's got to be licking his chops.
2. Bubba Watson
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Hard to believe, but it was only five years ago that Bubba Watson snagged his maiden PGA Tour win at the Travelers Championship. My, how things have changed since then. The long-hitting lefty is now a two-time Masters champ and has also collected wins on two other classic PGA Tour courses -- Torrey Pines and Riviera. Bubba has cooled off a touch since a blistering start to the season and his missed cut at the U.S. Open last week was his first MC of the year. I think he'll atone for that this week just outside Hartford, where -- along with the win -- he also has a T2 and a fourth-place showing.
1. Brandt Snedeker
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Reason to watch: Snedeker is enjoying a fine 2014-15 season -- one that includes seven top-10 finishes in 18 starts, including the last three in a row (T2 at Colonial, T6 at Byron Nelson and eighth at the U.S. Open, thanks to a hard-charging, 2-under 68 in the final round). Snedeker is the type of player who can be a force when the putter is hot. And, as we've seen so far this season, it's been hot quite a bit.
Here's how my five to watch fared last week at the U.S. Open:
5. Ernie Els -- T54
4. Rickie Fowler -- Missed cut
3. Rory McIlroy -- T9
2. Jordan Spieth -- Won
1. Phil Mickelson -- T64