Travelers Championship 2012: Webb Simpson and Stars Who Will Contend on Sunday

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2012

CROMWELL, CT - JUNE 21:  Webb Simpson reacts to fan cheers on the 8th green during Round One of the 2012 Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 21, 2012 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

After winning one of the wildest and most unpredictable U.S. Opens in recent memory at Olympic Club in San Francisco last week, Webb Simpson kept his commitment to play in the Travelers Championship this week.

He certainly hasn't disappointed thus far, either, as he is just two shots behind leader David Mathis after the first round of play.

The Travelers isn't exactly laden with superstars, but there are some high-quality players that Simpson will have to contend with in his quest to win back-to-back tournaments.

There are no guarantees that Simpson will win once again simply win because he is riding a hot streak after his U.S. Open triumph, but he appears to be a safe bet to be in the mix.

Here are three stars that will be in contention on Sunday and will attempt to make this week's tournament as tightly contested as the U.S. Open was. 


Webb Simpson

Few considered Webb Simpson to be a true factor to win the U.S. Open entering last Sunday's final round, but he played some extremely strong golf while his competition faltered, and he ultimately won the tournament with a score of one over par.

With that in mind, Simpson enters the Travelers with a ton of momentum and confidence on his side, and that was very apparent when he shot an impressive four-under par in the opening round.

Simpson promises to remain in the hunt as all eyes will be on him this week. He didn't fold in one of the biggest tournaments in golf last week, so I doubt that the Travelers will rattle him at all.

Simpson is the type of guy who plays mistake-free golf and doesn't take outrageous chances when he doesn't have to. That is a big reason why he won the U.S. Open and it is why he is likely to be a major factor in the Travelers as well.


Bubba Watson

CROMWELL, CT - JUNE 21:  Bubba Watson react reacts on the eighth green during Round One of the 2012 Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 21, 2012 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

To say that Bubba Watson's U.S. Open was a disappointment would be an understatement. This year's Masters winner had high hopes entering the tournament, but Olympic Club proved too tough to tame.

Watson shot nine over par collectively over the first two rounds and failed to make the cut. The course seemed tailored to him because of his big-time distance off the tee, but Watson couldn't keep the ball straight, and that spells doom in the U.S. Open.

Watson is certainly happy to be back on more of a birdie-friendly course this week, though, as he shot four under par in the first round. Watson is currently third on the money list this year and will look to continue to rise in those ranks at the Travelers.

Watson probably feels like he has something to prove following his lackluster U.S. Open performance, so he will be a player to look out for on Sunday. 


Matt Kuchar

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 16:  Matt Kuchar of the United States watches his tee shot on the first hole during the third round of the 112th U.S. Open at The Olympic Club on June 16, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Matt Kuchar is quickly developing into one of those players who is known as "best to never win a major." Kuchar looked like he might have a chance in the U.S. Open as he kept hanging around, but a four-over par round on Sunday knocked him out of contention.

Kuchar certainly hasn't let that disappointment deter him at the Travelers, however, as he has gotten out of the gate cleanly with a three-under par performance in the first round.

Kuchar is as solid and steady as they come, so I have to believe that he is going to be very tough to beat this week. He still has some ground to make up in order to catch the leaders, but his game will play very well at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut.

Kuchar is almost guaranteed to be near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday, and perhaps with a little luck he, Simpson and Watson can make it a clean sweep of the top three spots by tournament's end.


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