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BlogTravelers Championship Preview and Picks

Travelers Championship

June 20th – 23rd, 2019

TPC River Highlands

Cromwell,, CT

Par: 70 / Yardage:

Purse: $7.2 million

with $1,296,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Bubba Watson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 44 of the top 100 and 22 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with five players from the top-ten #1 Brooks Koepka, #6 Francesco Molinari, #7 Justin Thomas, #8 Patrick Cantlay and #10 Bryson DeChambeau. The other top 50 players are  #15 Paul Casey, #16 Tony Finau, #18 Jason Day, #20 Tommy Fleetwood, #21 Louis Oosthuizen, #22 Bubba Watson, #23 Marc Leishman, #25 Patrick Reed, #26 Phil Mickelson, #27 Kevin Kisner, #29 Jordan Spieth, #36 Cameron Smith, #40 Keegan Bradley, #44 Brandt Snedeker, #48 Chez Reavie, #49 Kiradech Aphibarnrat, #50 Andrew Putnam,

Last year there were 43 to 100 players and 22 of the top-50 in the field.

The field includes 9 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2019.  Those players are #3 Brooks Koepka, #7 Patrick Cantlay, #8 Paul Casey, #15 Justin Thomas, #16 Tony Finau, #19 Francesco Molinari, #20 Kevin Kisner, #21 Sung Kang and #24 Phil Mickelson.

The field includes seven past champions: Bubba Watson (2018, ’15 & ’10), Jordan Spieth (2017), Kenny Knox (2016),  Kevin Streelman (2014), Marc Leishman (2012), 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 Canadian Open Memorial Charles Schwab PGA Champ. Byron Nelson British Masters Wells Fargo Zurich Classic RBC Heritage Masters Texas Open WGC Dell Match Play
Brooks Koepka
(506.33 pts)
2
(200)
T50
(1)
DNP DNP Win
(176)
4
(53.33)
DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T56
(0)
Patrick Cantlay
(379.67 pts)
T21
(58)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T3
(120)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T3
(30)
T9
(30)
DNP T24
(13)
Jordan Spieth
(261.33 pts)
T65
(0)
DNP T7
(55)
T8
(33.33)
T3
(120)
T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
T21
(19.33)
T30
(6.67)
T24
(13)
Chez Reavie
(250 pts)
T3
(180)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T14
(48)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
T18
(10.67)
T28
(7.33)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
Francesco Molinari
(159 pts)
T16
(68)
DNP DNP T53
(0)
T48
(2.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T5
(46.67)
DNP 3
(45)
Louis Oosthuizen
(155.67 pts)
T7
(110)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP T5
(35)
Brandt Snedeker
(153 pts)
77
(0)
T4
(80)
DNP T19
(20.67)
T16
(45.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T24
(13)
Sung Kang
(147.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP 7
(73.33)
Win
(88)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP
Jason Day
(136 pts)
T21
(58)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T23
(36)
DNP DNP T24
(8.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T61
(0)
Kevin Streelman
(131 pts)
DNP DNP 4
(80)
T31
(12.67)
DNP DNP DNP T45
(1.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T6
(20)
DNP 6
(20)
DNP
Paul Casey
(125.17 pts)
T21
(58)
DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
T29
(28)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T9
(22.5)
Emiliano Grillo
(112.33 pts)
T58
(0)
DNP T9
(45)
T19
(20.67)
T23
(36)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
T62
(0)
DNP T40
(5)
Andrew Putnam
(110 pts)
T43
(14)
DNP T17
(33)
T3
(60)
T78
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T36
(4.67)
T40
(5)
Marc Leishman
(109.83 pts)
T35
(30)
DNP 5
(70)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T58
(0)
T49
(0.67)
DNP T9
(22.5)
Byeong Hun An
(106 pts)
T16
(68)
DNP T17
(33)
68
(0)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T7
(18.33)
T40
(5)
Adam Hadwin
(105 pts)
DNP 6
(60)
T52
(0)
DNP T29
(28)
DNP DNP T38
(4)
T13
(12.33)
T48
(0.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Kisner
(102.67 pts)
T49
(2)
DNP T41
(9)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T41
(3)
T21
(19.33)
DNP Win
(66)
Tommy Fleetwood
(100 pts)
T65
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T48
(2.67)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP 2
(33.33)
T25
(8.33)
T36
(9.33)
DNP T24
(13)
Peter Malnati
(90.67 pts)
DNP T31
(19)
T17
(33)
T40
(6.67)
DNP T72
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T9
(15)
T16
(11.33)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP
Cameron Tringale
(88 pts)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T5
(23.33)
DNP DNP T17
(11)
DNP
Viktor Hovland
(88 pts)
T12
(76)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T32
(12)
DNP DNP
Tony Finau
(85 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-10)
2
(66.67)
T64
(0)
DNP DNP T60
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T5
(46.67)
T61
(0)
T40
(5)
Charley Hoffman
(78.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T13
(24.67)
T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(15)
T45
(1.67)
T29
(14)
2
(33.33)
DNP
Jason Kokrak
(75 pts)
DNP DNP T62
(0)
DNP T23
(36)
DNP DNP 69
(0)
T22
(9.33)
T16
(11.33)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP
C.T. Pan
(74 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T3
(60)
CUT
(-13.33)
T35
(10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Win
(44)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Max Homa
(71.67 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
T27
(15.33)
T64
(0)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
(70.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T17
(33)
CUT
(-6.67)
T41
(12)
T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T49
(0.67)
DNP T40
(5)
Jonas Blixt
(69.33 pts)
DNP T44
(6)
DNP 5
(46.67)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP
Mackenzie Hughes
(68.67 pts)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T30
(6.67)
T63
(0)
DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP
Chesson Hadley
(66 pts)
T9
(90)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T31
(12.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Collin Morikawa
(66 pts)
T35
(30)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brian Stuard
(64.33 pts)
T65
(0)
DNP T33
(17)
T64
(0)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
T16
(11.33)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Hank Lebioda
(64 pts)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T50
(0.33)
T5
(23.33)
DNP DNP T17
(11)
DNP
Alex Prugh
(63.33 pts)
T21
(58)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T79
(0)
DNP T31
(6.33)
T13
(12.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Sebastian Munoz
(63 pts)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP T38
(4)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player U.S. Open Canadian Open Memorial Charles Schwab PGA Champ. Byron Nelson British Masters Wells Fargo Zurich Classic RBC Heritage Masters Texas Open WGC Dell Match Play
Michael Kim
(-50 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Sam Saunders
(-40.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP
Martin Trainer
(-40 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
WD
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP 66
(0)
DNP
Whee Kim
(-35.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T37
(4.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
J.B. Holmes
(-33.17 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
T34
(5.33)
DNP T62
(0)
T71
(0)
T17
(16.5)
Julian Etulain
(-32.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 68
(0)
T32
(6)
DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP
Patton Kizzire
(-30.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T45
(1.67)
T18
(21.33)
DNP DNP
Ollie Schniederjans
(-29.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T69
(0)
DNP T28
(7.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DQ
(-1.67)
DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP
Richy Werenski
(-29.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP T38
(4)
CUT
(-3.33)
T58
(0)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP
Hudson Swafford
(-27.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T33
(5.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

For me, I will remember the 2019 U.S. Open more of it becoming the “Corporate Open” rather than the U.S. Open.  First of all the days of coming to Monterey, California is now a different experience.  It’s become rip off city, between hotels doubling their prices and restaurants with “special” U.S. Open menus with much higher prices.  I have never seen so much greed since I was at Augusta.  But as my wife tells me, stop your complaining you would do the same thing in that position.  Still, one thing that is not that great is the overall “fan experience” for coming to a U.S. Open.  The regular ticket prices for those in the gallery run about $50 for practice rounds, to $120 for Thursday and $150 for Sunday.  For that price, it’s nothing but abuse.  You have to first show up and oh for you folks that drove to Pebble Beach there isn’t any parking on site unless you parked at one of the homes by the front gate that charged $100.  For the regular fan with a regular ticket, you have to drive 15 miles north to the Cal-State Monterey college and park your car there.  Then after a half hour wait, it was another half hour ride to the main transportation center at Pebble Beach.  That center was a half mile to the 1st tee.  But the best part is when the tournament ended on Saturday and Sunday, after walking back the wait was over an hour for a bus as the lines were longer than Space Mountain at Disneyland.

But the fan experience continued on the course, way too many people to really see anything and if you went to a nearby grandstand again long lines.  It’s very obvious that there are more tickets sold than space.  Oh and how about the experience of those empty stands behind the greens, those were the “VIP” stands for those that either paid double or was given the special experience from some corporate entity.  Everything had a big price tag on it, how dare they charge $4 for bottled water, $6 for Hot Dogs, $10 for a beer or a Hamburger.  I know that it’s a cost to provide these services, but the cost is way too much.

Then you hit the merchandise tent and experience more  “sticker price” as golf shirts started at $60 and were on average about $85.  A Pebble Beach tee shirt ran from about $28 to the Polo tee-shirt with a map of the course for $58.  In the past you couldn’t get into the merchandise tents the lines were very long, but there were no long lines this week  Probably because Pebble Beach will have stores in the Monterey area selling the stuff through the end of the year.

Again all of this started to get bad at Pebble in 2010 and have reached a level in which the fan experience is nothing more that a fleecing of the fan.  In talking with a few dozen folks waiting on line to catch a bus after play, many said they had a terrible time and would never do the U.S. Open ever again.

At least the USGA had no problems with course setup, I think they were very conservative and with no wind if anything the course was pretty tame for USGA standards.  Still, everything went good and we got a great champion in Gary Woodlands.  Have to say not many people picked Woodlands before play, but he put on a very good show.  He not only went out and seized the lead but on Sunday was in total control and withstood the pressure that Brooks Koepka put on him.  Woodlands hit a lot of great shots, people will remember the 3 wood from 263 yards out on 14 that led to a birdie and the great wedge on the 17th green that saved par.

There seems to be a new breed of players out there, guys like Woodland, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Marc Leishman, Tony Finau, Kevin Kisner and Bryson DeChambeau that aren’t in the running everytime they tee it up, but once in every ten starts you can see them making a run at a tournament.  They are fearless and ready to go and can withstand the pressure like Woodland did on Sunday.  Makes thing very interesting on the PGA Tour.

One last thing that you should consider about this year’s U.S. Open.  Everyone is saying that the USGA finally got it right this week.  Yes, there were no problems with course setup or rules but frankly, if you can’t get things right at Pebble Beach you shouldn’t be in business.  Pebble is probably the easiest of courses, but you have to make sure of the weather.  One last thing Fox Sports is making a big deal about their ratings, yes it’s their best since they did the telecast in 2015.  But let’s be frank, first of all, people are now use to go to Fox for the U.S. Open.  But more importantly, just like how easy it is for the USGA to get it right with there course setup, in a way the same for Fox.  If they can’t get good ratings with shows going till 10 pm east coast time they will never get good ratings.  But there is a downside of this that the USGA doesn’t really see.  That is they are getting less coverage than ever before.  Between the high cost of sending reporters to Pebble and the fact that play ends too late to get a story in the next mornings’ papers, the number of media was way down.  Lot’s of respected newspapers like the Boston Globe just used AP as their main source of news which is a shame.  Many European papers didn’t bother to come because for them play ended at 3:00 am London time.  The point is there is a sacrifice the USGA is making to run the Open till 10 pm on the east coast and again it’s all about corporate sponsors dictating what they want, not what is right for the fans of golf.

Tournament information:

This is the 68th 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 69.60 as it ranked 25th.  In 2017 the scoring average was 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 2019.
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 Spieth, Bubba Watson, 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 Pebble Beach.
The tournament is back to its regular date the week after the U.S. Open for the third 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 69.60 average making it the 25th hardest on tour. Hitting it long is essential, making birdies are important as 1,628 were made last year making it the 42nd 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 4.02, it ranked T-31st 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’s winner Bubba Watson ranked 2nd 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 23rd toughest on tour in this stat while Watson ranked T-1st. Our third category is scrambling, that is getting it up, and down when you miss a green last year, the course was the 13th hardest while Watson was T-44th for last year. In 2015 Bubba won and he led that stat. Our final category is par 4 average, last year TPC River Highlands was T-31st in this stat, Watson was 11 under the same that Spieth was the year before. In 2015 when Bubba won he was 12 under on the par 4s and led that stat.

*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, 139 have stats on the PGA Tour for 2019.

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

For the other 129 players with stats use this link

DraftKings tips

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

  • Brooks Koepka – $11,800
  • Patrick Cantlay – $11,300
  • Jordan Spieth – $10,700
  • Francesco Molinari – $10,300
  • Jason Day – $10,000
  • Justin Thomas – $9,800
  • Paul Casey – $9.500
  • Tommy Fleetwood – $9,300
  • Bryson Dechambeau – $9,200
  • Marc Leishman – $9,100
  • Tony Finau = $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.  So look at past performances and you can tell if he is a guy to pick.

Now as for Brooks Koepka, he has a Jeckel and Hyde affair with River Highlands with a T-19th last year, T-9th in 2016 and T-51st in 2014.  Because Koepka is $11,800 you may want to pass on him, but that would be a big mistake.  That’s because he is playing really well right now, was runner-up at Pebble and could have won if it wasn’t for the way Gary Woodland finished things off.  Not only is he 7th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, he is 4th in Parbreakers, 6th in Greens in Regulation but is 2nd best in Par 4 average.  Key for him, despite hitting the ball a long way he is #56 in scrambling for the year.  So realistically he is the closest player in perfection since Tiger Woods was king in that category.  So guess I can’t stress him more than that.  I also like Patrick Cantlay at $11,300, not only does he lead the PGA Tour in Par 4 averages, but also the leader in Scrambling all categories that are important to play well at TPC River Highlands.  He has been in the top-ten in four of his last six starts and could pick up another win this week.  As for Jordan Spieth at $10,700 I can only think of it as one thing.  His game is close and he could win at any time, it could be this week, or next month or the month after that.  As for the course he likes it winning in 2017 and since he is good in putting, 7th in Strokes Gained Putting if he can drive it straight and put together four good rounds he could win.  Francesco Molinari at $10,300 is a player that you shouldn’t dismiss.  He is a good scrambler and last year at this time he was starting his wild quest through the PGA Tour, could happen again.  Jason Day at $10,000 is a big mystery.  His back seems ok and he played fine in spurts last week.  As of the time i posted this haven’t found out if Steve Williams is on the bag which will make the difference, but I say take a pass on him since his record on the course isn’t that great.  Paul Casey at $9,500 is a very good pick.  Has a great track record at River Highlands and I wouldn’t worry about his poor play the last month, I think he seems destined to win this event one day considering he has been runner-up twice in the last four years and T-5th.  Tommy Fleetwood at $9,300 seems great on paper but he is a rookie and that worries me a bit, I say no on him.  Bryson Dechambeau at $9,200 is also a toss-up pick.  Was T-9th at River Highlands last year and should be able to play well on this course.  But his game is in flux right now, he is usually a streaky player but he isn’t streaky right now.  Marc Leishman at $9,100 is a past champion that looks great on paper, but the game is in between right now.  The same with Tony Finau at $9,000, he has missed the cut in his last two starts at the Memorial and U.S. Open and just doesn’t think he will turn on a switch this week,

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

Louis Oosthuizen at $8,800 could be a great pick considering how well he played at Pebble.  Phil Mickelson at $8,700 has won twice on this course, in 2003 was T-58th, then never showed up again for 16 years until now.  I am going to think about picking Phil.  Also, like Chez Reavie at $8,400 he played great at Pebble and I see it carrying over.  Daniel Berger at $8,000 is always a good choice, Viktor Hovland at $7,900 could be a good pick, making his pro debut, he played well at Pebble and it could carry over.  Also like Ryan Moore at $7,800, good record at River Highlands.  I would watch Russell Knox at $7,700 because he could pull another big surprise over us.

Some of the “bargains” this week at the Travelers

Boy hate to say it not many bargains at the Travelers.  Maybe Chesson Hadley at $7,400 due to his great weekend play at the U.S. Open or Sung Kang at $7,300.  Watch Peter Uihlein at $7,200 even though he has never made the cut here.

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

The 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 36 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, in 2017 Jordan Spieth won spectacularly by holing a bunker shot in a playoff to beat Daniel Berger so tight finishes are the norm.  Last year was a snooze as the Nats won by three shots.

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: 6
  • 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 Bubba Watson kept the trend going winning his third Travelers title.  In 2017 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 everyone.  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 12 of 19 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 Bubba Watson was 7th in driving distance while he was T-70th in accuracy.  In 2017 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 21 champions, 13 have played those holes in 8-under or better, with Notah Begay III playing them the best in 16-under in 2000. Last year Bubba Watson played the par 4s in 11 under while the year before Jordan Spieth also played them in 11 under.  In 2016 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.  Last year Bubba hit 56 and was T-7th.  The year before 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 Thunder on Thursday) with temperatures in the high 70s each day.

Who to watch for at the Travelers Championship

Best Bets:

Brooks Koepka

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T19 T9 T51

Playing like Tiger played between 1999 and 2008. Has all of the stats that show how many times he ca win this week. You know he will be in contention going into the back nine on Sunday.

Patrick Cantlay

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T15 CUT CUT T24

Not only does he lead the PGA Tour in Par 4 averages, but also the leader in Scrambling all categories that are important to play well at TPC River Highlands. Has been in the top-ten in four of his last six starts.

Paul Casey

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T2 T5 T17 2

Seems destined to win this event one day considering he has been runner-up twice in the last four years and T-5th. Ranks 8th on the PGA Tour Strokes Gained off-the-Tee category, also 17th in Greens in Regulation. Has had a very satisfying year with a win (Valspar) and four top-four finishes.

Best of the rest:

Jason Day

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T12 CUT T18 T27

Concern over his back has gone away, was T-12th last year at Travelers. Hits it far off the tee, is 14th in Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee and 12th in Strokes Gained Putting.

Daniel Berger

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T67 2 T5

Was runner-up at Travelers in 2017 and T-5th in 2016, does play well there. Has made his last seven cuts which is a good sign, also putting has been ok this year, 38th in putting inside ten feet.

Francesco Molinari

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T47 T25

Plays great no matter were he plays, has been quiet of late, but always seems to play his best in the summer months.

Tommy Fleetwood

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

Has no track record on the course but still knows how to play here.

Marc Leishman

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT T17 T9 T39 T11 T30 Win T70

Past champion, he could play well this week.

Solid contenders

Jordan Spieth

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T42 Win

Does have momentum, T-3rd at the PGA Championship, T-8th at the Charles Schwab and T-7th at the Memorial. Had his moments at Pebble but faded. Winner in 2017 so he likes the course and he is such a great putter, 7th in Strokes Gained Putting.

Tony Finau

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T17 T25 T25

This is a great course for his game. Is 29th in Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee, can putt well and scramble, looking to break out of his funk.

Bryson DeChambeau

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T9 T26 T47

His game is coming alive after a low to start the summer. Has all of the stats in his favor, 22nd in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, yes having trouble hitting greens but his putting is so good can carry him.

Phil Mickelson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
Won in 2002 & ’01, T-58th in 2003 the last time he played.

Have no idea why it’s taken him so long to return to a place in which he wins back to back times and doesn’t come back for 14 years. He is a horse for this course.

Louis Oosthuizen

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T17 CUT WD T47

Played well at Pebble that good play could carry over to this week.

Long shots that could come through:

Chez Reavie

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT T43 T47 T25 T43 T11 T68 CUT

Has the momentum of finishing T-3rd at the U.S. Open, is straight off the tee, 2nd on Tour in Fairway accuracy and 8th in Proximity to Hole. Was T-11th in this event in 2012.

Anirban Lahiri

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T9 T17

T-9th last year, T-17th in 2017, looking to turn his game around.

Ryan Moore

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT T17 T5 T7 T47 T2 T13 T4 CUT T33

Has struggled of late, but his game is perfect for TPC River Highlands. His short game and putting have come around, something that will help them in years past.

Want to avoid them this week:

Bubba Watson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
Win CUT T25 Win T31 4 T2 T38 Win T14 T6

His game has come apart, not worth the gamble, production of birdies and eagles have slowed. Is not the same player he was last year.

Justin Thomas

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T56 CUT T3 CUT T30

Still worried over his injury, but it seems to be better, watch him, could be a good weekend pick.

Comments

  1. Justin A says:

    Sal, I think you may be being a bit harsh on Bubba’s chances. There are only really three courses he regularly plays really well: here, Augusta and Riviera. Top 15s at both Augusta and Riveria (as well as 4th in Phoenix and at the Valspar). Reckon he’s got a fighting chance here!

  2. I couldn’t agree with your more, yes Bubba can only play three courses now and one of them is TPC River Highlands. But I still don’t think he will good this year even though I see he is 2 under after 14 holes but I still think he won’t come close this year. Sorry I think he is toast.

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