Travelers Championship Best Bets: Hoffman can hit the heights

American Charley Hoffman
Charley Hoffman is a course specialist
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After landing the each-way cash with 80/1 Tony Finau at the US Open, Dave Tindall looks for more profits in this week's Travelers Championship with three selections...

"This is one of the Californian's must-play events and his results show why - a second, a third, a seventh and two other top 26 finishes in his last five visits."

Back Charley Hoffman each-way @ 40/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 7 places

Main Bet: Back Charley Hoffman each-way @ 40/1

Charley Hoffman seems to relish pitting his wits against the big names so hopefully that will help push him on this week in a field featuring five of the world's top nine.

Three of Hoffman's best results since March have been either in majors (T12 Masters, T20 US Open) or WGCs (T20 Mexico Championship) and his other top 20 in that period came in a tasty field too (T14 Arnold Palmer Invitational).

There's also been some frustration in those finishes as he hasn't been able to crack the top 10 but expect that to change at TPC River Highlands this week.

This is one of the Californian's must-play events and his results show why - a second, a third, a seventh and two other top 26 finishes in his last five visits.

The second came in 2012 after three 67s and a 66 while last year he took third with four more rounds in the 60s. His T7 in 2013 included an opening 61!

The 41-year-old's top three last year came on the back of T8 at Erin Hills so, despite other evidence, the idea that you should shun those who did well in the previous week's US Open doesn't apply to Hoffman.

"This course sets up visually good for me," he said of TPC Highlands a few years ago and it could be useful that his best stat when perusing his numbers is his 7th place in Approaches from 125-150 yards.

This short par 70 requires plenty of shots from that type of distance and Hoffman can hopefully set himself up with plenty of birdie opportunities.

After hinting at something big for a while, the Travelers Championship would be a very obvious event for everything to click.

Back Hoffman to follow up his good US Open (T20) and grab a fifth PGA Tour win.

Next Best: Back Webb Simpson each-way @ 25/1

Webb Simpson is in the middle of one of those hot runs of form when you just expect him to keep posting big finishes.

The highlight was his superb victory in the Players Championship at Sawgrass while he's had five other top 10s this season.

The latest came in the US Open at Shinnecock Hills where he fought back from an opening 76 to finish T10.

Simpson made the top five at Hilton Head the week after he'd made the top 20 in the Masters so, again, rather than expect a post-major dip, his strong US Open can only be viewed as a positive.

The Sawgrass champ was 9th on the All-Around at Shinnecock, also ranking eighth for greens in regulation and 17th in Putting Average.

With the putter now a weapon not a weakness, there's every reason to think Simpson can keep getting in the mix wherever he plays.

TPC River Highlands looks a very obvious place to do that. He was T8 last year after closing 68-66-68 and, two visits earlier, claimed T5 after bookend 65s.

"I've played this tournament more than any other tournament besides Bay Hill," he said a few years ago.

"What I've learned here is you've got to be patient, because there are plenty of birdie holes here, but at the same time the holes aren't necessarily that easy. They've got some trick spots and pins are tough. You've got to be careful.

"Last week (US Open) is so stressful on every level. Driving to the golf course is stressful, practice rounds are stressful.

"So I think this week is nice in the sense that getting around is easy. The town is a great town; it's not big, so it makes for kind of a laid‑back week until hopefully you get in contention and then the stress comes.

"I like playing after the (US) Open. I love playing here."

With both game and head in a really good place, I like Simpson each-way at 25/1.

Final Bet: Back Brandon Harkins each-way @ 250/1

If my first two picks are a tad conservative, I'm going to roll the dice a little with my third.

Brandon Harkins won his PGA Tour card last year and has established himself nicely this season, currently sitting 86th in the FedEx Cup standings.

His best results come on his native West Coast, with T8 at the CareerBuilder Challenge, T9 in the Safeway Open, T12 in the Farmers Insurance and T15 at Pebble Beach.

With a mix of Bent/Poa greens this week, that should help him although his putter has been fairly strong for much of the season.

Asked about the strengths of his game in January, he replied: "I think that I'm a pretty good iron player, and then once I'm on the greens I think I'm able to roll in putts. I would definitely say putting's become more of a strength the past couple years."

Approach play (he's 40th for Going For The Green) and putting (40th in Putting Average) are two important elements at this venue and he's got some decent recent numbers in both ahead of his TPC River Highlands debut.

Although it wasn't anything amazing, T37 at the St. Jude Classic last time ended a run of eight events outside the top 30. It just hints that a return to his early-season form could be on the cards and in a week where the very big names may not be fully at it, there's scope for a surprise name to get in amongst the leaders.

Hopefully, Harkins is that man.

As for those market leaders, I can't muster up any real enthusiasm.

Brooks Koepka will surely be taking the week off mentally while I can see Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day all throwing in a low number at some point but not doing it for all four days.

Jordan Spieth won last year but returns to defend his title on the back of two missed cuts.

Dave's 2017/18 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £940
Returned: £1319.84
P/L: +£379.84

(After the US Open)

2016/2017:
P/L: +£1179.89

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