Expect more 'Home Run Derby' Sunday at Travelers

Rogash/Getty Images
Fredrik Jacobson may be just 18 holes from his first TOUR win, but he'll have to keep making birdies over those holes.
June 25, 2011
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer

CROMWELL, Conn. -- How do you like your baseball -- pitcher's duel or home run derby?

If you said the latter, then the Travelers Championship is right up your power alley.


Fredrik Jacobson has yet to make a bogey at TPC River Highlands this week. Of course he might need to do that again on Sunday if he has any hopes of winning for the first time in his career on the PGA TOUR.

Last week excluded, if the U.S. Open is a battle of attrition -- i.e. a struggle for par -- then this tournament is the biggest birdiefest this side of the Bob Hope Classic.

Sure, Old Man Par and carnage -- or a 1-0 baseball game -- is fun once in a while, but there's a reason baseball flourished during the Home Run Era.

Golf's version of that is what we're getting here with players firing at one pin after another after another.

Jacobson has the lead at 16 under, but he has plenty of company in that sea of red.

Bryce Molder is just a shot back and James Driscoll three back. Another half dozen players are four back and six more are five back.

That's 14 players within five shots of Jacobson, who himself resumed his second round on Saturday trailing by eight shots. Even by the time he finished his first 36 holes, Jacobson still trailed by four.

Asked what he'll need to do to win, Jacobson said, "I have no idea. It's impossible to know today."

Perhaps Jacobson should listen to one of the players trying to catch him.

"You do want to have the mindset of birdies and you do want to be 15 and 20 feet, trying to make those putts, and when the greens are a little bit slower because they've been wet, you can do that," Molder said. "You kind of have to remind yourself."

Consider it done.

It's a lot like what happened at this year's U.S. Open actually. Rory McIlroy stepped on the gas from the word go and once everyone saw that birdies were not only possible but necessary they started going after them, too.

In all, there have been 34 bogey-free rounds this week at TPC River Highlands, four of which of course belong to Jacobson. Of those, 15 of them have been rounds of 65 or better.

"The greens are still really soft, so if you got control of your golf ball, you can definitely make a lot of birdies out there," Driscoll said.

He should know. He made eight of them in the third round on his way to a second straight 64 -- and he still trails by three.

Asked what he thinks the winning score for the week will be, he said 20 under.

Even that might not be enough.

The lowest winning final round in TOUR history is 59, which has been done twice (the last by Stuart Appleby at The Greenbrier last year). Golf's magic number certainly seems possible again this week -- amateur Patrick Cantlay did, after all, post a second-round 60 here.

"I think I shot 62 or 63 that one Saturday when I won," J.J. Henry said.

It was a 63, but at 10 under the Connecticut native better go lower than that if he has any aspirations of getting his second career victory here.

Even that, though, might not be enough for Jacobson.