June 19 2013
The short par-4 15th sees everything from eagles to big numbers during the Travelers. (Rogash/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
At just 296 yards, the 15th hole at TPC River Highlands beckons the bold among Travelers Championship participants with visions of eagles.
Beware, though. The shortest par-4 among the PGA TOUR’s annual stops dishes out penalty as easily as it does reward.
“Even though it’s a short hole and it looks easy on TV and everything, it's still tough yardage for me,” said Bubba Watson, whose breakthrough PGA TOUR victory came at the 2010 Travelers.
Consider that in that victory and two subsequent visits to River Highlands, Watson has notched eight birdies in 12 passes. Only one, though, came in last year’s edition – when he finished a stroke behind Marc Leishman.
Nine eagles were recorded at No.15 last year, trailing only only No. 7 at Olympic Club (U.S. Open) and No. 15 at TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open). There were also 151 birdies – along with 65 bogeys, 15 double bogeys and four triples.
“It’s a hole where you can make a 5, but you can make a 2 as well,” Webb Simpson said. “It’s one of the better drivable par 4s on TOUR, for sure.”
One doesn’t even necessarily need a driver to reach the multi-leveled putting surface. If the hole is playing downwind, a 3-wood or even hybrid can be plenty for long hitters. Do so at your own peril, though.
A large pond awaits drives that fall short or too far left, and four bunkers also lie in wait.
“My driver's too much,” Watson said. “I’ve hit it in the water a few times because I bailed out on my 4‑wood. So for me, I'm just trying to get it over the bunkers and just short of the green and somehow get up‑and‑down for birdie.”
Golfers do have the option of laying up with an iron, but the wedge shot into the green isn’t exactly a sure thing, either.
“I don't really feel like it's that easy of a layup,” said 2011 champion Freddie Jacobson. “The way the green is with the little tiers, it’s a very tough wedge shot.”