Bubba Watson back in comfort zone and new favourite for the Travelers Championship

The left-hander is a three-time winner at TPC River Highlands and got his bid for a fourth success off to an impressive start thanks to a 66.

Best Bet

Bubba to win at 12/1

Punters know the deal with Bubba Watson by now: they back him on his favourite courses but usually stay clear elsewhere.

Watson is a creature of habit. So when he returns to the scene of a past success, there's an immediate comfort level and that often brings out his best golf.

Looking at his past record, he's won twice at Augusta National, three times at Riviera and three times here at TPC River Highlands.

In other words, eight of his 12 PGA Tour wins have come on just three courses.

Last week he was a rather surprise figure on the halfway leaderboard in the US Open, a tournament where he has just one top 15 in 15 appearances.

Then again, it was being played at Torrey Pines, where Bubba had once won the Farmers Insurance Open. So not a surprise after all maybe.

Watson's bid faltered on the weekend but his promising start hinted at good things to come this week and that's how it played out in a first-round 66.

As well as three wins in this event, Bubba also has a second, a fourth and a sixth. Thursday's round was the 16th time he's fired a 66 lower on the par 70.

When he's won here in the past, the two-time Masters champion has started with rounds of 65 (2010), 62 (2015) and 70 (2018) respectively.

He was 77th after 18 holes when taking the title three years ago so his current position of tied ninth - three behind surprise leaders Kramer Hickok and Satoshi Kodaira - looks easily a strong enough building block from which to go and claim victory.

Bubba was down at 45/1 to win in the pre-tournament betting. Now he's the 12/1 favourite at Planetsportbet, with his main rivals on the drift (see below).

Patrick Cantlay shot a 2-under 68, buddies Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka 1-under 69s and Dustin Johnson an even-par 70.

Let's take a look at his stats and what he said later:

Bubba's stats in round one

Strokes Gained Off The Tee: 2.265 (2nd)

Strokes Gained Approach: 1.811 (22nd)

Strokes Gained Around The Green: -0.802 (130th)

Strokes Gained Tee To Green: 3.274 (10th)

Strokes Gained Putting: 0.816 (43rd)

On his opening round

"It's one of the golf courses that you -- it seems easy, like it's gettable. Then the first few holes they're a little into the breeze today, and so then I hit one tee shot a little off on 2. Hit me in a bad lie. One of those things where it can be anywhere else except but right there, and I hot it over the green. Couldn't get it out of that rough just right. Quick bogey.

"Long putt, decent putt on 4 to get me back to even. Again, unlucky chip on the par-5 6th, but then I just birdied holes that are birdieable. I birdied 9 with a good putt, 10 with a good iron shot in there, and then the par-5 and then the drivable 15.

"So I just hung in there and just tried to make the pars where you had to and then have a chance for birdie, and I made the putts. So today the putter just got hot. Not hot, but it was just nice on the last ten or so holes."

On staying patient

"Yeah, it was one of those things where I know I bogeyed the second hole, but my caddie was in my ear just saying, Hey, it's tough out here. Couple under par is a good score right now. That's what we did.

"We held it together until we got to some downwind holes or holes that are scorable."

On whether being a three-time winner at the course helps him over a poor start

"Yeah, for sure. You know the holes you can kind of -- I wouldn't say attack. Attack is the wrong word. But knowing what you can do. The history of the golf course, some other champions, what they've done; Streelman, seven birdies or whatever he did to finish.

"So you know it's out there. It's just can you find it or can you do it. The putter kept me going today and made the round nice."

On his morning tee-time in round two

"Well, I wish there was a way I could sleep for 10 hours. I'm not going to be able to do that tonight. Hopefully you wake up on the right side of the bed tomorrow and the body is feeling good.

"Physio, the therapist is in there, and hopefully he'll get the body right in the morning and ready to go and we'll be off to the races again."

READ MORE: Rejuvenated Paul Casey all set to challenge at TPC River Highlands.

Latest Golf Videos