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BlogTravelers Championship Preview and Picks

Travelers Championship

June 21st – 24th, 2018

TPC River Highlands

Cromwell, CT

Par: 70 / Yardage: 6,841

Purse: $7 million

with $1,260,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Jordan Spieth

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 43 of the top 100 and 22 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with five players from the top-ten #2 Justin Thomas, #4 Brooks Koepka, #5 Jordan Spieth, #7 Rory McIlroy and #9 Jason Day. The other top 50 players are  #11 Patrick Reed, #13 Paul Casey, #16 Marc Leishman, #20 Bubba Watson, #21 Webb Simpson, #22 Bryson DeChambeau, #24 Xander Schauffele, #28 Brian Harman, #30 Patrick Cantlay, #35 Pat Perez, #36 Satoshi Kodaira, #37 Charley Hoffman, #38 Kyle Stanley, #40 Daniel Berger, #46 Siwoo Kim, #47 Adam Hadwin and #50 Chez Reavie.

Last year there were 38 to 100 players and 15 of the top-50 in the field.

The field includes 18 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2018.  Those players are #2 Justin Thomas, #4 Jason Day, #5 Bryson DeChambeau, #6 Patrick Reed, #8 Patton Kizzire, #9 Webb Simpson, #10 Bubba Watson, #13 Brooks Koepka, #14 Patrick Cantlay, #15 Paul Casey, #17 Pat Perez, #18 Chesson Hadley, #19 Luke List, #20 Marc Leishman, #21 Andrew Landry,  #23 Brendan Steele, #24 Chez Reavie and #25 Brian Harman.

The field includes nine past champions: Jordan Spieth (2017), Kenny Knox (2016), Bubba Watson (2015 & ’10), Kevin Streelman (2014), Ken Duke (2013), Marc Leishman (2012), Stewart Cink (2008), Hunter Mahan (2007) and J.J. Henry (2006).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Traveler’s field is our performance chart listed by the average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Traveler’s field in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Traveler’s field.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Travelers Championship

Player U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Memorial Italian Open Fort Worth BMW PGA Byron Nelson The Players Wells Fargo Zurich Classic Texas Open RBC Heritage Masters
Brooks Koepka
(389 pts)
Win
(264)
T30
(20)
DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T11
(39)
T42
(2.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Reed
(313 pts)
4
(160)
DNP T29
(21)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(9)
8
(16.67)
T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
Bryson DeChambeau
(265 pts)
T25
(50)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
4
(26.67)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
T38
(8)
Webb Simpson
(258.33 pts)
T10
(80)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T20
(20)
Xander Schauffele
(210 pts)
T6
(120)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
T72
(0)
DNP T73
(0)
T32
(6)
T50
(0.67)
Rory McIlroy
(178 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T16
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
Justin Thomas
(167.33 pts)
T25
(50)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(39)
T21
(9.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T17
(22)
Paul Casey
(141.33 pts)
T16
(68)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(30)
DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T15
(23.33)
Patrick Cantlay
(140.33 pts)
T45
(10)
DNP 4
(80)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T23
(27)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP T7
(18.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
Russell Knox
(133 pts)
T12
(76)
DNP T44
(6)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP T16
(22.67)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T7
(18.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T40
(3.33)
DNP
Zach Johnson
(126.33 pts)
T12
(76)
DNP T40
(10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T75
(0)
DNP T15
(11.67)
5
(23.33)
T42
(2.67)
T36
(9.33)
Jason Day
(125.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T44
(6)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
Win
(44)
T34
(5.33)
DNP DNP T20
(20)
Daniel Berger
(118.67 pts)
T6
(120)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
T55
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T32
(12)
J.B. Holmes
(118.33 pts)
DNP 3
(90)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP DNP T42
(5.33)
CUT
(-10)
T42
(2.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Chesson Hadley
(115.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T40
(10)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP DNP T11
(39)
T16
(11.33)
T4
(26.67)
T20
(10)
T7
(18.33)
DNP
Marc Leishman
(103.33 pts)
T45
(10)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
T63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
9
(30)
Emiliano Grillo
(103 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T23
(27)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
T9
(15)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Graeme McDowell
(98.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T5
(70)
DNP T12
(38)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T27
(7.67)
T22
(9.33)
T51
(0)
T55
(0)
DNP
Ryan Moore
(98 pts)
DNP DNP T13
(37)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T30
(20)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP 7
(18.33)
T16
(11.33)
T28
(14.67)
Billy Horschel
(96 pts)
DNP T51
(0)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
T37
(13)
DNP Win
(44)
T11
(13)
T5
(23.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
Richy Werenski
(95 pts)
CUT
(-20)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP T74
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T23
(27)
CUT
(-3.33)
T25
(8.33)
T11
(13)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Rory Sabbatini
(84 pts)
DNP DNP T44
(6)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP T13
(24.67)
T30
(20)
T27
(7.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP
Kyle Stanley
(82.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T13
(12.33)
DNP DNP DNP 52
(0)
Russell Henley
(81 pts)
T25
(50)
DNP T29
(21)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
Charley Hoffman
(80.67 pts)
T20
(60)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T31
(6.33)
T64
(0)
T23
(9)
T12
(25.33)
Retief Goosen
(77 pts)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T19
(10.33)
T20
(10)
DNP DNP
Keith Mitchell
(73 pts)
DNP T37
(13)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(60)
T77
(0)
T34
(5.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T26
(8)
T55
(0)
DNP
C.T. Pan
(70.33 pts)
DNP T18
(32)
DNP DNP T20
(20)
DNP T32
(12)
T46
(4)
T76
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T23
(9)
DNP
Brandt Snedeker
(70 pts)
T48
(4)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
15
(11.67)
T23
(9)
DNP
Kevin Tway
(68.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T65
(0)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T9
(30)
T46
(4)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T36
(4.67)
T67
(0)
DNP
Jordan Spieth
(67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T32
(12)
DNP T21
(19.33)
T41
(9)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP 3
(60)
Chez Reavie
(62.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T30
(20)
DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP DNP 53
(0)
Jamie Lovemark
(62.67 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
(33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T10
(13.33)
T30
(6.67)
DNP DNP
Nick Watney
(62 pts)
DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
T2
(33.33)
T31
(6.33)
T20
(10)
T32
(6)
DNP
Keegan Bradley
(60.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T23
(27)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(55)
T76
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
T45
(1.67)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Travelers Championship

Player U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Memorial Italian Open Fort Worth BMW PGA Byron Nelson The Players Wells Fargo Zurich Classic Texas Open RBC Heritage Masters
Mackenzie Hughes
(-44.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP DNP T57
(0)
T59
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Lanto Griffin
(-43.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T58
(0)
DNP DNP
Blayne Barber
(-33.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-10)
T67
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Zhang Xin-jun
(-30 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T70
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Smylie Kaufman
(-30 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
D.A. Points
(-30 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
James Hahn
(-28.33 pts)
DNP T45
(5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Kyle Thompson
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Billy Hurley III
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 81
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Sung Kang
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T57
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T42
(5.33)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
36
(4.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Have to say that despite the USGA going to Shinnecock Hills, which is one of the greatest courses on the planet the USGA found a way to screw things up big time, again.  Yes, we had a champion as Brooks Koepka was able to defend his championship, becoming the 7th player in U.S. Open history to accomplish the feat and the first since Curtis Strange won the 1988 & ’89 U.S. Open.  Koepka was able to handle the complexities of a golf course that at times was out of control because some of the greens became impossible due to high winds and the USGA picking poor pin positions which made the course impossible.

The shame of this, the USGA got caught in 2004 with the same problems and promised that wouldn’t happen this time around, but it did.

Another scare during the championship was crowd-pleaser Phil Mickelson who on Saturday had a bit of a “brain-fart” on a poorly hit putt on the 13th hole.  After Phil hit the putt, the ball rolled past the cup and picked up speed as it was accelerating off the green, leaving Phil with a very tough chip back.  Mickelson probably realized the second he hit the ball it was faith and made a snap decision to chase the ball and while it was still moving batted it back toward the hole.  He went on and took 8 shots, but the USGA leveled a two-shot penalty on him for hitting a moving putt.  After his round Mickelson told the world he was merely using the rules to help him, knowing it was a 2 shot penalty but still deciding he would make a better score even incurring the penalty.  This immediately lit up social media with mixed opinions from fans and another mess left for the USGA to handle.  Many felt that Mickelson deliberately stopped a moving putt and should have been disqualified claiming that they thought Mickelson crossed the line on the spirit of the game.  But the USGA didn’t disqualify Phil and opened themselves for more abuse as social media lit up with different opinions.  If my opinion means anything, I think that Phil should have been disqualified.  My reason, what do you think Augusta National would have done if Phil had hit over the green on the par 5, 15th hole and then hit a poor chip which was headed toward the lake in front of the green.  If Phil had batted the ball back toward the green while it was on the march to a watery grave, Phil would have saved the penalty of the ball in the water, then having to endure a nasty next shot to the green.  So this means there is a bit of a loop-hole in the rule and I can only hope that the USGA and the R&A address this and put into the rule that if the Committee deems the player intentionally hitting a moving ball to save from something terrible, then that player would be disqualified.  The spirit of the rule is intended to help players who accidentally hit the ball while making the stroke, but was not designed for those who bat a moving ball destined for disaster.

But let’s go back to the problems the USGA had in preparing the course for the third round.  The problem was a poor forecast saying it wouldn’t be windy.  So the USGA never felt the course was in danger and put some holes in the position that when the wind blew in the afternoon created havoc.  So the course got away from them, a term players use to nicely say the course becomes unfair to play.  But the big problem is that this isn’t the first “roadie” for the USGA in unfair conditions.  The intent of the USGA is not to have the course play unfairly, but in their philosophy of having the ultimate test in golf, the course sometimes gets unplayable, especially in windy conditions.  When this happens players tend to look stupid, and an example of that is what happened to Phil on Saturday.

I have attended every U.S. Open since 1975 and the older I get, the more I am growing to dislike what the USGA does.  I hate that they have to get the course to that problematic place in which they are on the edge of the course getting away from them.  I hate the term “shine” which describes greens that are close to dying to get the speed to the ultimate level.  On some Open courses like in 2015 at Chamber Bay and in 2010 at Pebble Beach, the “shine” was so bright that the greens had very little grass left on them and this created putts that didn’t roll smoothly turning putting from a game of skill to a game of luck.  So every year the USGA seems to go to the extremes, and when things don’t work out, you get a golf course that is very unfair.  So why does the USGA do this?  Because they want the ultimate test for players.  But if you look at the other majors, they too are looking for the ultimate test, but they don’t take it to the limit.  I remember in 2010 asking former R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson if they felt bad that players were taking apart St. Andrews during the British Open that year.  He smiled and said that a lot of work had gone into the set-up of the course and that since they have no control of the weather, they make sure to set it up not only fairly, but making sure that the course doesn’t get too hard in the conditions for players.  As Dawson put it, “We prepare the course to produce the ultimate challenge, but if a player achieves a great score, they are the first to shake that players hand and say well done.”  The same with the PGA of America, who likes a challenging course but also realize that fans don’t pay to watch players suffering, fans love to see birdies and excellent playing, so they set up the course with that in mind, and you know what, you rarely look at any players criticize either the PGA of America or the R&A for the way they set up their courses.  As for the Masters, it’s a bit unfair to compare them to them to the other three majors since the Masters is played on the same course every year.

So after this disaster will the USGA change their tune?  You can see what happened on Sunday; they made extra sure that there wouldn’t be any problems and the course was very tame when you consider that the first round average was 76.47, the second round was 73.60, the third 75.33 and the final round was 72.18 a three-stroke difference from Saturday and Sunday.  But come next year I can bet that the USGA will be looking for that “shine” on the greens of Pebble Beach and again will take it to the level of what is fair and not.  A shame if you ask me.

One last thing that is causing this problem.  If you look at the courses that have held the U.S. Open since 2014, all of them are on courses that have a links type of characteristic to them, from the redone Pinehurst to Chamber Bay, to Oakmont which took down over 2,000 trees to give it more of a links feel.  And the last two courses Erin Hills and Shinnecock Hills continue that philosophy of length, with wider fairways and greens that are hard to hit and get up and down on them.  As for next year, Pebble will be more of the same, and the trend won’t stop until the U.S. Open is played at Winged Foot in 2020.

Tournament information:

This is the 67th annual Travelers Championship. The United States Junior Chambers founded the tournament in 1952 after an attempt to raise money from a turtle race the previous year failed. The Cromwell, Connecticut-based tournament was initially known as the Insurance City Open. The chief goal of the tournament since its inception has been to raise funds for the USJC’s philanthropic endeavors. In the inaugural tournament, war-hero Ted Kroll captured the crown, the second of his career. Four years later, the Insurance City Open served as a launching pad for Arnold Palmer as he notched his second win on the PGA Tour and the first on American soil in the 1956 Insurance City Open.

The Insurance City Open underwent a name change in 1967 when it became the Greater Hartford Open. The tournament’s original goal was given a boost when, in 1971, defending champion Bob Murphy donated $20,000 of his 1970 winnings to start the Greater Hartford Chapter of the “Jaycees.” The year 1973 was momentous for the Greater Hartford Open. To further boost tournament notoriety, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., who frequently participated in the Pro-Am events, lent his name to Greater Hartford Open. Also in 1973, Billy Casper won his record fourth and final Greater Hartford Open. In 1985, the first major corporate sponsor for the event surfaced in the form of Canon USA.

Starting in 1985 the event added Canon to its name; however, the title would be altered just three years later. In 1988, Sammy Davis Jr. was removed from the name, and beginning in 1989; the tournament was became known as the Canon Greater Hartford Open. By 2001, the tournament had grown to previously unrealized levels. Phil Mickelson’s personal best 61, as well as appearances by Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino, headlined the tournament, which saw a record 318,000 spectators come out to watch the 50th annual Canon Greater Hartford Open. In 2004, a three-year partnership was forged between Buick and the GHO. The result was the Buick Championship. After the three-year contract expired, however, Buick decided not to renew the contract. Consequently, St. Paul Traveler’s stepped in to become the new title sponsor.

Course information:

  • TPC River Highlands
  • Cromwell, Ct.
  • 6,841 yards     Par 35-35–70
  • The TPC River Highlands has experienced as many changes as the name of the tournament it hosts. The original piece of property was designed in 1928 by R.J. Ross, cousin to the more notable golf course designer Donald Ross. The course was tied to the Edgewood Country Club. However, when the Greater Hartford Open was searching for a larger venue than its home at Wethersfield Country Club in 1982, the Edgewood Country Club seemed like a perfect fit. Before the venue was fit to host a major PGA Tour event, course renovations were necessary. The Greater Hartford Chapter of the USJC hired Pete Dye to renovate the Edgewood Country Club golf course. Dye’s finished product, known as The TPC Connecticut, hosted the Greater Hartford Open in 1984. One of the key features of the new course, especially the back nine, was the incorporation of amphitheaters to improve a fan’s viewing experience. In 1989, a re-design team that consisted of Bobby Weed, and consultants Howard Twitty and Roger Maltbie, made some additional changes. After the renovation, the course became known as the TPC River Highlands.
  • The golf course itself is forgiving. The par-70 course, measuring at 6,841 yards, has a Course Rating of 72.7 and a Slope Rating of 131. The tees and fairways are a 3/8″ cut of Bent Grass, while the greens are a 1/8″ cut of Bent Grass. The rough consists of a mixture of Kentucky Blue Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, and fine Fescue cut at just over 6 inches. The 132-acre venue has 69 bunkers and five water hazards that come into play on six holes. Golf Digest rated TPC at River Highlands as one of the six best courses in the state of Connecticut. Another notable achievement for the TPC at River Highlands was that it was the 49th course to become fully-certified in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP), which promotes ecologically sound land management and the conservation of natural resources.
  • Holes No. 4 and 10 provide the biggest challenge. The fourth hole is the most difficult on the golf course. It’s a severe dog-leg right that measures 460 yards. The tee shot requires a massive fade to reach the fairway while avoiding the tree-line on the right-hand side. From there, the approach shot goes into a tight green with a bunker guarding the front left. As for the 10th hole, the 460-yard par 4 requires a slight draw to the left-hand side of a tiny fairway to avoid the large fairway bunker on the right. From the fairway, the player aims for a green that is protected by a front left and back right bunker. The most famous portion of the course, the three-hole stretch from 15 to 17, incorporates a four-acre lake that is affectionately dubbed the “Golden Triangle.” Those three holes, along with the 18th, make up one of the top finishing stretches on the PGA Tour.
  • In summer 2008 the new practice facility opened. The 23.5-acre facility is adjacent to the new First Tee of Connecticut nine-hole golf course that is in its initial phase of construction.
  • Last year TPC River Highlands played to a scoring average of 70.20 as it ranked T-20th.  In 2016 it played to an average of 69.67, just over a quarter of a shot under par.  It ranked 26th hardest course on the PGA Tour.  In 2015 it was to an average of 69.38, almost a three-quarters of a shot under par.  It ranked as the 29th hardest course on the PGA Tour that year.  In 2014 it played to a 69.69 average while in 2013 TPC River Highlands played to a 70.25 scoring average, just a quarter of a shot over par.    So it has played easily of late.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing at TPC River Highlands.

This is based on the most vital stats from TPC River Highlands, based on data from last year’s Travelers and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2018.
The most important thing to realize about TPC River Highlands, its a course that is very forgiving, you don’t kill a lot of brain cells in getting your way around it, and if you drive it long and reasonably straight, you can win. Just look at the roll call of past champions, guys like Jordan, Bubba, Kenny Perry, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Streelman, Marc Leishman and J.J. Henry, guys that hit it far and chase it for their next shot. Now this doesn’t eliminate short hitters, guys like Brad Faxon, Woody Austin, and Olin Browne have won, and they are not long hitters. In 2016 Russell Knox won, he is classified as being in the middle, a person that can give it some stick, but is in the middle of the pack (in 2016 he ranked 108th in driving distance).
So your first choice should be guys that hit it a long way, guys that are hot right now and guys that showed some promise at Shinnecock Hills.
The tournament is back to its regular date the week after the U.S. Open for the second year in a row, in 2016 it was played two months later which frankly may have changed the character of the course because it was hotter than usual and the grass was more mature being later in the year. So in a way, I would throw out all the results from 2016, it was just entirely different. The field in 2016 wasn’t that great because it was the week before the Olympics, so the point is things are back to normal last year and this year.

In looking at our four categories, we have to go outside the box. Remember this isn’t a tough course, last year it played to a 70.20 average making it the 20th hardest on tour. Hitting it long is essential, making birdies are important as 1,527 were made last year making it the 40th hardest on tour, not bad for a course that only has two par 5s. To score low you have to play good on its 12 par 4s, last year the par 4s average was 4.03, it ranked 28th on tour last year. So our first category is Strokes Gained Tee-to-green because those that do well on the course does well and has a significant advantage. Last year Jordan Spieth ranked 1st in this stat Next is Par Breakers which is a combination of birdies and Eagles, you have to make a lot of them this week to have any chance. Last year TPC River Highlands was 20th toughest on tour in this stat while Spieth ranked 1st. Our third category is scrambling, that is getting it up, and down when you miss a green last year, the course was the 10th hardest while Spieth was T-19th previous year. In 2015 winner Bubba Watson led this stat. Our final category is par 4 average, last year TPC River Highlands was T-29th in this stat, Spieth was 11 under last year the best of anyone, Knox was 10 under in 2016 while Bubba was 12 under on the par 4s and led that stat in 2015.

*Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green: Combination of distance off the tee, accuracy and the ability to hit greens in regulation.

*Par Breakers: Who makes the most birdies and eagles per round.

*Scrambling: The percent of time a player misses the green in regulation, but still makes par or better.

*Par 4 averages: Players that do the best on par 4s.

Of the 156 players in the field, 141 have stats on the PGA Tour for 2018.

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is the link to the other 131 players with stats for 2018.

DraftKings tips

Of the 156 in the field, 127 have played at least once at TPC River Highlands in the Travelers since 2010:

  • Bubba Watson is 73 under in 30 rounds playing 8 years
  • Charley Hoffman is 61 under in 28 rounds playing 7 years
  • Ryan Moore is 61 under in 24 rounds playing 6 years
  • Chris Stroud is 59 under in 28 rounds playing 7 years
  • Brendan Steele is 50 under in 26 rounds playing 7 years
  • Marc Leishman is 49 under in 24 rounds playing 6 years
  • Aaron Baddeley is 46 under in 26 rounds playing 7 years
  • Webb Simpson is 45 under in 24 rounds playing 6 years
  • Keegan Bradley is 42 under in 28 rounds playing 7 years
  • Brandt Snedeker is 37 under in 18 rounds playing 5 years
  • Kevin Streelman is 36 under in 26 rounds playing 8 years
  • Vaughn Taylor is 36 under in 26 rounds playing 7 years
  • Paul Casey is 33 under in 12 rounds playing 3 years
  • J.J. Henry is 30 under in 28 rounds playing 8 years
  • Brian Harman is 29 under in 22 rounds playing 6 years
  • James Driscoll is 28 under in 16 rounds playing 5 years
  • Padraig Harrington is 28 under in 26 rounds playing 7 years
  • Patrick Reed is 27 under in 20 rounds playing 6 years

*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)

  • Daniel Berger is 23 under playing 2 years (-2.88)
  • Paul Casey is 33 under playing 3 years (-2.75)
  • Ryan Moore is 61 under playing 6 years (-2.54)
  • Bubba Watson is 73 under playing 8 years (-2.43)
  • Charley Hoffman is 61 under playing 7 years (-2.18)
  • Chris Stroud is 59 under playing 7 years (-2.11)
  • Brandt Snedeker is 37 under playing 5 years (-2.06)
  • Marc Leishman is 49 under playing 6 years (-2.04)
  • Brendan Steele is 50 under playing 7 years (-1.92)
  • Jim Furyk is 19 under playing 3 years (-1.90)
  • Webb Simpson is 45 under playing 6 years (-1.88)
  • Aaron Baddeley is 46 under playing 7 years (-1.77)
  • James Driscoll is 28 under playing 5 years (-1.75)
  • Nick Watney is 26 under playing 4 years (-1.63)
  • Brooks Koepka is 13 under playing 2 years (-1.63)
  • Keegan Bradley is 42 under playing 7 years (-1.50)

Historical ParBreakers

Here is a look at those playing this week and who has made the most eagles and birdies:

 

So it makes sense that the top players on this list are guys that will deliver lot’s of points this week

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Justin Thomas – $11,500
  • Brooks Koepka – $11,300
  • Rory McIlroy – $10,900
  • Jordan Spieth – $10,600
  • Patrick Reed – $10,000
  • Jason Day – $9,800
  • Paul Casey – $9.600
  • Bryson Dechambeau – $9,500
  • Marc Leishman – $9,300
  • Webb Simpson – $9,100
  • Ryan Moore – $9,000

TPC Highland is one of those courses that you either like or you don’t like.  Look at guys like Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Marc Leishman, Bubba Watson and even Jordan Spieth.  These guys seem to always play well at River Highlands (Yes I know that Bubba missed the cut last year).  So look at past performances and you can tell if he is a guy to pick.

Now as for Justin Thomas, he has a Jeckel and Hyde affair with River Highlands.  Because Thomas is $11,500 you may want to pass on him, I usually would say that he will do well, but I just have that funny feeling this isn’t the year for Thomas.  Now Brooks Koepka at $11,300 is a player that many will take, frankly after winning the U.S. Open he isn’t ready to win again.  Last year he was supposed to play in this event and withdrew after winning the U.S. Open.  Guess he didn’t want to do it two straight years, so he went home to Florida to celebrate his Shinnecock win and will be back for the event on Wednesday.  So it’s probably best to take a pass on him.  Rory McIlroy at $10,900 is another pass in my mind, his head is lost right now, and I don’t see him getting it back this week to pass on him

Jordan Spieth hasn’t played that great, but we can see him contend this week.  He is expensive at $10,600 but the course suits him, and he will play well.  I also like Patrick Reed at $10,000, he played well at Shinnecock and could have won if the course was set up a bit different, I see Reed contend this week.  Jason Day at $9,600 is another player I will pass on, his game looks terrible at Shinnecock and doesn’t see it improving this fast for this week.  Paul Casey at $9,600 is an excellent buy, yes hasn’t played well this year but his game suits this event and course to take him.  Bryson Dechambeau at $9,500 is a question mark, hasn’t shown a liking to River Highlands so I will make a pass on him.  As for Marc Leishman at $9,300 I will take him, plays great in this event.  As for Webb Simpson at $9,100 I would say he is another good pick.  Last is Ryan Moore at $9,000, he has had his moments on this course but he hasn’t played well in a couple of years and hasn’t had a very stellar 2018 so take a pass on him.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Right off the bat, we see a lot of good buys in the high range of this price range.  Daniel Berger at $8,900 is on my list of players to take, also like Bubba Watson at $8,800, Charley Hoffman at $8,700 and Xander Schauffele at $8,600.  Brandt Snedeker at $8,100 is also another good buy, plays well at River Highlands and has been ok of late.  Keegan Bradley at $7,900 is an excellent price and something that I may consider played well in 2008.  Last in this price range is Brendan Steel at $7,600, he has a good track record at River Highlands.

Some of the “bargains” this week at the Travelers

Boy hates to say it not many bargains at the Travelers.  Jim Furyk at $7,300 may be a good buy, yes he shot 80 in the final round of the U.S. Open, but he did finish T-28th.  Trey Mullinax at $7,300 is another good buy, missed the cut at U.S. Open but did finish T-6th at the FedEx St. Jude and could be good at the Travelers.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Travelers:

Key stat for the winner:

The TPC at River Highlands is a different type of TPC course.  It was a reconfiguration of a traditional, old style course, but it still has some of that flavor.  Most of the greens are small, raised or crowned, making it a scrambler’s delight.  The tournament is well supported in the community — as many as 80,000 spectators could be in attendance this week — so the timid need not apply.  Another factor that comes into play is the fact that the tournament has close finishes every year (except of course in 2009 when Kenny Perry won by three).  Since it moved away from Wethersfield in 1983, 26 of the 35 tournaments have been decided by either a shot or a playoff, including in 2010 when Bubba Watson beat Scott Verplank and Corey Pavin in extra holes.  In 2012 Marc Leishman was a shot better than Charley Hoffman and Bubba Watson.  In 2014 it was another playoff, with Ken Duke getting the better of Chris Stroud. In 2015 Bubba Watson won again in a playoff, this time against Paul Casey.  In 2016 Russell Knox won by a shot over Jerry Kelly, last year Jordan Spieth won spectacularly by holing a bunker shot in a playoff to beat Daniel Berger so tight finishes are the norm.

Here is a chart that shows exactly how close tournaments have been in the 65-year history of the Travelers Championship:
  • Tournaments tied after 72 holes: 23
  • Tournaments won by one shot: 23
  • Tournaments won by two shots: 8
  • Tournaments won by three shots: 5
  • Tournaments won by four shots or more: 7

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • So what is an essential element for the most recent past champions of the Travelers?  Putting and hitting it a long way.  Last year Jordan Spieth kept the trend as he was 1st in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and was 4th in putts per round.  In 2016 Russell Knox’s key was hitting a lot of greens, but putting was very important for him as in the 48 putts he had of 4 feet and in he made every one.  Look at Bubba Watson in 2015, he not only was the longest driver in the field but also had the best overall putting average. Kevin Streelman in 2014, he was 1st in putting average, 8th in total putting and 3rd in strokes gained-putting.  The year before Ken Duke was 1st in putting average, 3rd in total putting and 10th in strokes gained-putting.  To put this into perspective, of the last ten champions in the total number of putts, 6 of them were in the top-five, and all of them were in the top-13, so putting well is the key to being successful.
  • Hitting it far is more important than accuracy because the last 11 of 18 champions have been in the top-13 of the driving distance stat while only six winners have broken into the top-ten of the accuracy stat just once.  Last year’s winner Jordan Spieth was T-51st in driving distance and T-42nd in driving accuracy.  But in 2015 Bubba Watson was 1st in driving distance and 70th in accuracy, so driving it long does have its advantages.
  • Playing the par 4s well is another key. Of the last 20 champions, 12 have played those holes in 8-under or better, with Notah Begay III playing them the best in 16-under in 2000. Last year Spieth played the par 4s in 11 under while the year before Kenny Knox played them in 10 under while in 2015 Bubba played the par 4s in 12 under while the year before Kevin Streelman played them in 11-under par.
  • Hitting greens will be at a premium. Just like in a U.S. Open, hitting lots of greens goes a long way in this event.  Normally you would look for the winner to hit globs of greens and in 2016 Knox did it hitting 57 of 72 which ranked T-5th.  But last year that never happened as Spieth hit 49 and ranked T-42nd while in 2015 Bubba hit 50 and was ranked T-38th.  The year before that Streelman hit 53 and was ranked T-10th.  But the previous three years the winners were poor in hitting greens, still, in looking at the last 15 champions, seven of them were in the top-ten.
  • Now I don’t want to jinx the tournament, but the weather in Connecticut will be good three of the four days (60% chance of light rain on Saturday) with temperatures in the 80s each day.

Who to watch for at the Travelers Championship

Best Bets:

Patrick Reed

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T5 T11 CUT CUT T18 T47

Showed at the U.S. Open that he is ready to win again, has a good record at River Highlands.

Daniel Berger

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
2 T5

Final group at the U.S. Open, combination of him playing the week at Shinnecock and his past performances at River Highlands makes him one of our top-three.

Bubba Watson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT T25 Win T31 4 T2 T38 Win T14 T6 CUT

Watch him, one of his favorite places to play, in his last 30 rounds is 73 under at River Highland.

Best of the rest:

Jordan Spieth

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win

Yes he has played bad in 2018, he has lost a bit of his nerve on the green, but this place has great memories so anything could happen.

Justin Thomas

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT T3 CUT T30

Look at his key stats, they are perfect for River Highlands, he should win it running away.

Brooks Koepka

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T9 T51

Playing well, this course is good for his game.

Paul Casey

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T5 T17 2

Another of those players with good memories of this event, plus he is geared to make the Ryder Cup team.

Solid contenders

Charley Hoffman

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T3 T25 T26 T7 T2 T43 T27 CUT

Guy always plays well at the Travelers, his game can overcome any other problem with River Highlands.

Webb Simpson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T8 T34 T5 T29 T13 T57 T26 T37

His type of course, look for him to get himself into contention.

Brandt Snedeker

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T14 T10 T11 T24 CUT T47

Looking to break out of a slump, good place for him the course is good for him.

Luke List

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT CUT CUT T63 CUT CUT

Has great numbers from tee to green, could be a good combination for this week.

Long shots that could come through:

Emiliano Grillo

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T43

Has all of the figures over the year to do very well this week.

Russell Knox

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T62 Win WD T61 T13 CUT

Has good memories of this place, could rekindle this week.

Keegan Bradley

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T8 T25 T39 T31 T18 T29 T63

Seems to always put out good numbers in this event.

Worst Bets:

Jason Day

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT T18 T27

His game has been a mess for a couple of weeks.

Rory McIlroy

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T17

The same on how his game is a mess, needs to work things out, he doesn’t seem to want to do that.

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