|Groups We're Watching|
The final round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands is set to begin. Here's a preview of Sunday's action:
EXPERT PREVIEW: PGA TOUR NETWORK on-site correspondent Bob Stevens previews Sunday's action:
What to make of Justin Rose's chances of winning his second straight start Sunday? They're certainly better than they were two weeks ago when he had to come from behind to win with a brilliant final round at the Memorial. He shot about as high a score as he could have in the 3rd round, a 68 in which he didn't make a single putt over 5-feet--and missed 6 birdie tries from within 15 feet. He told me afterward that after missing the first couple of makeable putts, he didn't want to press the issue, but ended up "trying too hard not to try too hard" and lost his rhythm. He knows what it takes to win now, and could be very tough to catch.
That is, unless it's by the one guy who has something Justin Rose desperately wants--an Open Championship. Ben Curtis leads the field in greens in regulation, but was also complaining to my PGA TOUR Network cohort Bill Rosinski that he couldn't make any putts--until he nailed a 43-footer at the 18th to close out a 64. How long will that momentum last? He likely needs to get off to a good start to put any pressure on Rose.
Can any of the other chasers catch Rose? That's probably more up to the Englishman than those chasers. The 10-unders are six shots back. If Rose only shoots an even-par 70, those guys will have to shoot 64 to catch him. Any birdie he makes takes it a notch lower for the chasers. Curtis is likely the only player who can catch Rose on his own. But just ask Dustin Johnson, Robert Garrigus, or Rickie Fowler about that--they're the last three 3rd round leaders who had comfortable cushions on Sunday. It should be a fun day--provided the weather holds up. No predictions there.
INSTRUCTOR'S CORNER: Bill Masching, head instructor at TOUR Academy New York, analyzes the playing conditions this week:
Ben Curtis fired a 64 in round 3 of the Travelers Championship to close the gap on Justin Rose. He had a 92.86% driving accuracy (13 of 14 fairways) and hit 94.44% of his greens in regulation (17 of 18). Amazing! Everybody dreams about having days like these on the golf course, but they are few and far between. When you do miss a green and find your ball in the rough, follow a few simple adjustments to improve your chances to get "up and down."
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Chipping from greenside rough can be tricky if the rough is long, so remember to "hinge and hold" to save some strokes around the green. First, assess your lie and see how much grass will be in between the ball and the clubface at impact. Remember that long grass will snag the club head and take spin off of the ball, so stopping this shot will be difficult. Expect the ball to run after it hits the green so put it back in your stance to ensure solid contact. Keep your weight steady and hinge your wrists immediately with little arm swing and strike down on the ball with a sharp "V" motion. This hinge and hold motion will greatly increase your chances to get out of deep rough and shave strokes off of your scorecard.