June 25th – 26th, 2020
TPC River Highlands
Par: 70 / Yardage: 6,841
Purse: $7.4 million
with $1,332,000 to the winner
What a strange weekend for me. I have been to every U.S. Open since 1975 and it was strange to have my wife rolling over and kiss me saying “Happy Fathers Day.” It was the first time I have been at home in the 32 years I have been married. For many, it’s not going to be the same not having the U.S. Open in June and I can only imagine the shock on my body when I spend the whole month of July in Washington D.C. instead of spending two weeks at the British Open. For many of us, the fact that we may not be able to attend the PGA Championship in August or the U.S. Open in September is looking more realistic. Still the good news is that we are back with golf on a weekly basis and CBS has never been better in their first two events.
One major of sorts is the Ryder Cup and a lot of rumors have floated about, mostly on how the players won’t play without spectators. The folks of the PGA of America are saying the final word is within weeks, but in looking at this article in the Guardian in England, which is a very respected paper they are saying that the Ryder Cup will be pushed back to 2021 and that decision will come next week. Sad but frankly we have talked on how events now aren’t the same without spectators and I fell personally I don’t want to see a major or a Ryder Cup played with no or limited fans. I can only hope that if this is the case, maybe the PGA Championship which the PGA of America says will happen in San Francisco with no fans and the U.S. Open in September will also cancel. As for the Open at Winged Foot, it already has gutted qualifying, and frankly, I believe it’s just not the same with no fans or limited fans. If that happens I would feel the results require an asterisk next to it because it’s not the same.
Tell me below on our speak your mind your thoughts on fanless golf and the Ryder Cup being postponed to next year.
So let’s see what the last couple of weeks are telling us about the players in the week to come. This week the PGA Tour moves to Connecticut as for the rest of the year most of the events will be played on Northeaster style courses except for the PGA Championship in San Francisco and WGC-FedEx St. Jude in Memphis.
Over the last two weeks, those that hit it long have been at a disadvantage at Colonial and Harbour Town. Despite that, Bryson DeChambeau has done well finishing T-3rd at Charles Schwab and T-8th at the Heritage and playing those rounds in 31 under. This week DeChambeau has a chance to win on a course he can use his length as an advantage plus on a course that he has had top-tens the last two times he has played at TPC River Highlands. Another long hitter, Justin Thomas also did great the first two weeks with a T-10th at Charles Schwab and T-8th at Harbour Town. He too should love being able to rear back with the driver this week.
The big question will be watching long hitters like Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka. I see some of them doing well at the Travelers. Jon Rahm has struggled since the break, even though he had a great finish at the RBC Heritage with rounds of 67-66-68. Of the four, Brooks Koepka seems to be shaping up the best, he shot four rounds under par at Colonial, finishing T-32nd. At Harbour Town, he finished 7th with rounds of 67-66-68-65. We know the story of the slow start that Koepka had only to make an emergency visit to Butch Harman before the Players Championship. Harman did his magic in not only spotting some minor flaws but more importantly giving him that added confidence he needed. Right now Koepka has no plans on playing next week at Rocket Mortgage, so he would really like to be doing well as he takes some time off. As for McIlroy and Johnson, Rory is playing great but stumbles on Sunday. Johnson, however, is still struggling and we can’t tell if it’s swing related or more problems with his mind and what is happening in his life. He is human and in a very demanding job and even with his talents and help, he may just have to continue trying hard and let this pass.
The players that come into the Travelers with momentum are Webb Simpson, who won the RBC Heritage. Also, have to like Abraham Ancer who finished 2nd at Harbour Town and was T-14th at Colonial. For his last eight rounds, he is 31 under par, the same score as Bryce DeChambeau. Another impressive accomplishment for Ancer he led Greens in Regulation at Harbour Town and played the par 4s in 10 under, stats that will help him at TPC River Highlands. Oh, I also forgot to mention that Ancer was T-8th last year at the Travelers. Another player that has finished T-8th at the Travelers is Webb Simpson, who did it in 2017. He also was T-5th in 2013, but the stat that was great at Harbour Town was playing the par 4s in 13 under, something that will help him at Travelers.
Another player who has been impressive the last two weeks has been Justin Rose. We knew his problems in the last year and of anyone we can see the break really helped him the most. He finished T-3rd at Colonial with rounds of 63-69-68-66 and T-14th at Harbour Town with rounds of 70-67-66-65. So eight rounds all under par, he has played 30 under and on a course like TPC River Highlands can see him doing well. In the past the European Tour would gear up this time of year, so Rose hasn’t played at the Travelers since 2013 but in the eight starts he had was 3rd in 2005 and T-9th in 2007, 2010. In 2013 he was T-13th so we have to keep Rose at the top of our list of favorites.
A couple of others that played well and we should consider this week, one is J.T. Poston who was T-10th at Colonial and T-8th at Harbour Town, Poston was 28 under in those 8 rounds. The only problem with Poston is that in three starts at TPC River Highlands he hasn’t made a cut But one hot player that doesn’t have that problem is Joaquin Niemann, who was T-5th at The Travelers last year. Niemann was T-32nd at Colonial and T-5th at the RBC Heritage, but have to like his explosive play, in four of his eight rounds he shot 63 once and 65 three times.
Another player to watch is Sergio Garcia. After missing the cut at the Charles Schwab, he was T-5th at Harbour Town. For his six rounds, he is under par in five and at par in the other and has shown that we should think of him this week. At the Heritage, he finished his week with rounds of 65-65-65 and had some impressive stats, but just like Justin Rose he tends to play more in Europe and has not played in the Travelers since 2015 when he finished T-25th. The year before he almost won finishing 2nd a stroke back of winner Kevin Streelman who shot 64 in the final round. The only problem is Sergio himself, he can go hot and cold so quickly it scares me to place a bet on him.
One past champion who could be coming into his own is Bubba Watson. He has won the Travelers three times in 2010, ’15 and ’18, he was T-7th at Colonial and T-52nd at Harbour Town. The finish was good at the RBC Heritage when you consider he shot 73 in the third round, his only round over 69 the last two weeks. So he could knock on the door this week.
A bit disappointing was that after Daniel Berger finished T-3rd, the winner the week before withdrew from Travelers probably of exhaustion after playing his 8 rounds in 35 under.
Those playing for the first time since the break is Paul Casey and Patrick Cantlay. For Casey, he has done great in the Travelers except for winning. In five starts he is 58 under par and finished T-5th last year, T-2nd in ’18, T-5th in ’17, T-17th in ’16 and 2nd in 2015. For the year before the break, Casey was consistent making the cut in all seven starts with the best finish of 11th in his last start at the WGC-Mexico Championship. Despite not playing you have to consider him this week. Another player coming back this week is Patrick Cantlay, who has been T-15th in his last two starts at the Travelers. I am a bit apprehensive on him since he has a history of injuries with his back. What bothers me he took a month off the tour in February for a surgery to correct a deviated septum and he always plays well at Harbour Town and didn’t play, so it’s best to see how he is physically.