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BlogTravelers Championship Preview and Picks

Travelers Championship

June 25th – 26th, 2020

TPC River Highlands

Cromwell, CT

Par: 70 / Yardage: 6,841

Purse: $7.4 million

with $1,332,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Chez Reavie

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 60 of the top 100 and 33 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with nine players from the top-ten #1 Rory McIlroy, #2 Jon Rahm, #3 Justin Thomas, #4 Brooks Koepka, #5 Webb Simpson, #6 Dustin Johnson, #7 Patrick Reed, #9 Patrick Cantlay and #10 Xander Schauffele. The other top 50 players are #11 Bryson DeChambeau, #13 Justin Rose, #15 Marc Leishman, #17 Tony Finau, #18 Gary Woodland, #20 Sungjae Im, #21 Louis Oosthuizen, #22 Shane Lowry, #24 Abraham Ancer, #25 Paul Casey, #26 Matthew Fitzpatrick, #29 Collin Morikawa, #34 Kevin Na, #35 Sergio Garcia, #36 Danny Willett, #37 Billy Horschel, #38 Kevin Kisner, #39 Chez Reavie, #41 Cameron Smith, #46 Bubba Watson, #47 Matt Wallace, #48 Rafa Cabrera Bello, #49 Scottie Scheffler, #50 Brandt Snedeker.

Last year there were 44 to 100 players and 22 of the top-50 in the field.

The field includes 20 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2020.  Those players are  #1 Webb Simpson, #2 Justin Thomas, #3 Sungjae Im, #4 Rory McIlroy, #5 Patrick Reed, #6 Brendon Todd, #8 Marc Leishman, #9 Sebastian Munoz, #10 Lanto Griffin, #11 Abraham Ancer, #12 Xander Schauffele, #13 Bryson DeChambeau, #16 Joaquin Niemann, #17 Kevin Na, #18 Cameron Smith, #19 Cameron Champ,#20 Colin Morikawa, #21 Scottie Scheffler, #22 Nick Taylor and #25 Jon Rahm.

The top 25 players not in the field are #7 Daniel Berger, #14 Tyrrell Hatton, #15 Hideki Matsuyama, #23 Adam Scott and #24 Harris English.

The field includes ten past champions: Chez Reavie (2019), Bubba Watson (2018, ’15 & ’10), Jordan Spieth (2017), Russell Knox (2016), Kevin Streelman (2014), Marc Leishman (2012), Stewart Cink (1997 & 2008), Hunter Mahan (2007) J.J. Henry (2006) and Phil Mickelson (2001 & ’02).

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 RBC Heritage Charles Schwab Arnold Palmer Honda Classic WGC Mexico Puerto Rico Open Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi International Farmers Insurance Open Dubai Desert Classic American Express
Bryson DeChambeau
(256.67 pts)
T8
(50)
T3
(90)
4
(26.67)
DNP 2
(50)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP
Abraham Ancer
(210.67 pts)
2
(100)
T14
(36)
T56
(0)
DNP T12
(19)
DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
Webb Simpson
(166 pts)
Win
(132)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Justin Thomas
(146.67 pts)
T8
(50)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP T6
(30)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T3
(30)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Collin Morikawa
(145 pts)
T64
(0)
2
(100)
T9
(15)
DNP T42
(4)
DNP T26
(8)
DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP
Patrick Reed
(139.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T7
(55)
T15
(11.67)
DNP Win
(66)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T6
(20)
DNP DNP
Rory McIlroy
(138.67 pts)
T41
(9)
T32
(18)
T5
(23.33)
DNP 5
(35)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(30)
DNP DNP
Sungjae Im
(134.5 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T10
(40)
3
(30)
Win
(44)
T29
(10.5)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP T10
(13.33)
Xander Schauffele
(133.67 pts)
T64
(0)
T3
(90)
T24
(8.67)
DNP T14
(18)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Justin Rose
(116 pts)
T14
(36)
T3
(90)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Bubba Watson
(114.33 pts)
T52
(0)
T7
(55)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T18
(16)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T3
(30)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP DNP
Jon Rahm
(111.33 pts)
T33
(17)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T3
(45)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP DNP
Viktor Hovland
(109 pts)
T21
(29)
T23
(27)
T42
(2.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP T38
(4)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T23
(9)
DNP
J.T. Poston
(107 pts)
T8
(50)
T10
(40)
CUT
(-3.33)
T35
(5)
DNP DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
Tony Finau
(106 pts)
T33
(17)
T23
(27)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP T14
(12)
Sergio Garcia
(99.83 pts)
T5
(70)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T37
(6.5)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP
Ian Poulter
(93 pts)
T14
(36)
T29
(21)
T32
(6)
T27
(7.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
(11)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Jason Kokrak
(90.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T3
(90)
T18
(10.67)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Joel Dahmen
(90 pts)
T48
(2)
T19
(31)
T5
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T14
(12)
WD
(-1.67)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP
Brooks Koepka
(84 pts)
7
(55)
T32
(18)
T47
(1)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP DNP T17
(11)
DNP DNP DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(83.83 pts)
T14
(36)
T32
(18)
T9
(15)
DNP T37
(6.5)
DNP T30
(6.67)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP
Gary Woodland
(80.67 pts)
T62
(0)
9
(45)
DNP T8
(16.67)
T12
(19)
DNP DNP DNP T40
(3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Patrick Rodgers
(79 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T14
(36)
T24
(8.67)
T21
(9.67)
DNP T35
(5)
T30
(6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T16
(11.33)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP T64
(0)
Max Homa
(78.67 pts)
T41
(9)
CUT
(-10)
T24
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T14
(12)
T6
(20)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP T48
(0.67)
Joaquin Niemann
(78.33 pts)
T5
(70)
T32
(18)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP
Dustin Johnson
(76.67 pts)
T17
(33)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T48
(1)
DNP T10
(13.33)
T32
(6)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Marc Leishman
(73.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
2
(33.33)
DNP T42
(4)
DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP
Jhonattan Vegas
(70 pts)
T17
(33)
T60
(0)
DNP T27
(7.67)
DNP T9
(15)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T17
(11)
T30
(6.67)
DNP T55
(0)
Matthew NeSmith
(69.33 pts)
T33
(17)
T49
(1)
CUT
(-3.33)
T38
(4)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP T17
(11)
Brian Harman
(57.67 pts)
T28
(22)
T23
(27)
CUT
(-3.33)
T47
(1)
DNP DNP T47
(1)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
Ryan Palmer
(57.33 pts)
T8
(50)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP DNP 67
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP
Scottie Scheffler
(53.67 pts)
DNP T55
(0)
T15
(11.67)
DNP T26
(12)
DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP 3
(30)
Corey Conners
(52.17 pts)
T21
(29)
T19
(31)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
50
(0.5)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jordan Spieth
(51.67 pts)
T68
(0)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP T58
(0)
DNP T59
(0)
T9
(15)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP
Bud Cauley
(51.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T29
(21)
T32
(6)
T42
(2.67)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T4
(26.67)

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player RBC Heritage Charles Schwab Arnold Palmer Honda Classic WGC Mexico Puerto Rico Open Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi International Farmers Insurance Open Dubai Desert Classic American Express
Si Woo Kim
(-30.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
Brian Gay
(-29.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
T62
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T38
(4)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Martin Trainer
(-29 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T47
(1)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Patton Kizzire
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP 68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Roger Sloan
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T60
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Scott Harrington
(-25.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T47
(1)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
C.T. Pan
(-23.33 pts)
T52
(0)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T63
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Bo Van Pelt
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Austin Cook
(-21.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP T44
(2)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Jim Furyk
(-19 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T49
(1)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Despite Nick Watney testing positive for coronavirus, it seems that he is the only one and it seems as if things are back to normal.  He woke up on Friday and didn’t feel right, seems that a lot of the players on tour wear a “Whoop Band” which helps monitor how there body functions.  Many are wondering if Watney didn’t feel good why he was allowed to practice while he waited for his test, but Watney was very quick in telling Tour officials of the problem and I can bet he was careful not to be in contact with others.

It’s amazing how fast someone could get it, he took a test on Tuesday and was fine.  Have to say the tour has done a wonderful job making sure to keep the bubble stable without not allowing players and caddies to have a life.  According to Bob Harig on ESPN.Com Watney did nothing and was just unlucky.  So for the next ten days, he has to self-isolate himself in South Carolina.  Harig reported that Watney was in contact with 11 others but those folks took tests on Friday and were ok.

Guess this is all part of our new “normal.”

For more “Buzz” check out our new piece, Prelude to the Travelers

TO BE AWARE

Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Chase Koepka, Cameron Champ, and Graeme McDowell have withdrawn for either reasons to do with COVID-19 or personal reasons.  So be sure to check your picks

Tournament information:

This is the 69th 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 since 2007.

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 mixed with Poa annua. 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 481 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 462-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 69.72 and ranked T-19th.  In 2018 it played to a 69.60 average 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 2020.
The most important thing to realize about TPC River Highlands, it’s 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 last year’s winner Chez Reavie along with Brad Faxon, Woody Austin, and Olin Browne they have all 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). Last year Chez Reavie won by four shots despite ranking T-54th in driving distance during the week and ranking 158th in driving distance for the year. Reavie was hot coming into the week, he was T-3rd at the U.S. Open at Pebble. Now playing well may not be a clue when you consider that in 2018 Bubba Watson won, the week before he missed the cut at the U.S. Open shooting rounds of 77-74. The year before in 2017, Jordan Spieth won, the week before he finished T-35th at the U.S. Open. So it doesn’t really matter how a player is doing coming into the Travelers.
In looking at characteristics of players who could win the Travelers, of course, your first choice should be guys that hit it a long way, guys that are playing well right by showing some promise at Harbour Town
As we pick up on the third event back from the break from COVID-19, the Travelers were to be played this week anyway, so we don’t have to look at the course differently like we did Colonial and Harbour Town that was played in different time slots.
Again the field for the third event in a row is super, not only do we have nine of the top-ten rated players off the Official World Golf Ranking and 33 of the top-50, there are 60 of the top-100 in the field. A more astonishing stat of the 154 players listed in the field now (suppose to be 156), 109 of those in the field have won at least once on the PGA Tour

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 69.72 average making it the 25th hardest course on tour. Hitting it long is essential, last year it ranked 10th on tour with an average of all drives being 278.7. But you don’t have to be accurate, it ranks 42nd on tour last year with a 69.43 average so driving it straight isn’t important. Now making birdies are important as 1,579 were made last year making it the 36th 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-24th on tour last year. So our first category is Strokes Gained Tee-to-green because those that do well on the course do well in this stat and have had a significant advantage. Last year’s winner Chez Reavie ranked 1st for the week while 2018 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 15th hardest on tour as winner Reavie ranked T-5th. In 2018 the course was the 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, TPC River Highlands was the 21st hardest as winner Chez Reavie was 2nd as he got it up and down on 15 of the 18 greens he missed. In 2018 the course was the 13th hardest while winner Watson was T-44th. In 2015 Bubba won and he led that stat. Our final category is par 4 average, last year TPC River Highlands was T-24th in this stat, Reavie was 13 under in this stat not only the best in the field but the only player in double digits. In 2018 Watson was 11 under the same that Spieth was the year before that. In 2015 when Bubba won he was 12 under on the par 4s and led that stat. In looking at the winners, the last six champions have been in double-digit numbers in par 4s which means it’s a very important element in winning the Travelers.

*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, 143 have stats on the PGA Tour for 2020.

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

Here is a look at the stats of the other 133 players in the Travelers

TO BE AWARE

Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Chase Koepka, Cameron Champ, and Graeme McDowell have withdrawn for either reasons to do with COVID-19 or personal reasons.  So be sure to check your picks

DraftKings tips

Of the 156 in the field, 135 have played at least once at TPC River Highlands in the Travelers since 2015:

  • Paul Casey is 58 under, in 20 rounds playing 5 years
  • Brian Harman is 39 under, in 18 rounds playing 5 years
  • Bubba Watson is 39 under, in 18 rounds playing 5 years
  • Keegan Bradley is 37 under, in 20 rounds playing 5 years
  • Chez Reavie is 32 under, in 18 rounds playing 5 years
  • Bryson DeChambeau is 31 under, in 16 rounds playing 4 years
  • Patrick Rodgers is 30 under, in 16 rounds playing 4 years
  • Brendan Steele is 29 under, in 18 rounds playing 5 years
  • Kevin Tway is 27 under, in 12 rounds playing 3 years
  • Marc Leishman is 27 under, in 18 rounds playing 5 years
  • Charley Hoffman is 26 under, in 14 rounds playing 4 years
  • Danny Lee is 25 under, in 14 rounds playing 4 years
  • Patrick Reed is 25 under, in 16 rounds playing 5 years
  • Russell Knox is 22 under, in 17 rounds playing 5 years
  • Vaughn Taylor is 21 under, in 16 rounds playing 4 years
  • Zach Johnson is 21 under, in 14 rounds playing 4 years
  • Brooks Koepka is 19 under, in 12 rounds playing 3 years
  • Jason Day is 19 under, in 10 rounds playing 3 years
  • Kevin Streelman is 19 under, in 16 rounds playing 5 years
  • Patrick Cantlay is 18 under, in 8 rounds playing 2 years
  • Tony Finau is 18 under, in 14 rounds playing 4 years
  • Rory McIlroy is 17 under, in 8 rounds playing 2 years

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

  • Paul Casey is 58 under playing 5 years (-11.6)
  • Kevin Tway is 27 under playing 3 years (-9.0)
  • Patrick Cantlay is 18 under playing 2 years (-9.0)
  • Rory McIlroy is 17 under playing 2 years (-8.5)
  • Brian Harman is 39 under playing 5 years (-7.8)
  • Bubba Watson is 39 under playing 5 years (-7.8)
  • Bryson DeChambeau is 31 under playing 4 years (-7.8)
  • Patrick Rodgers is 30 under playing 4 years (-7.5)
  • Stewart Cink is 15 under playing 2 years (-7.5)
  • Keegan Bradley is 37 under playing 5 years (-7.4)
  • Charley Hoffman is 26 under playing 4 years (-6.5)
  • Gary Woodland is 13 under playing 2 years (-6.5)
  • Chez Reavie is 32 under playing 5 years (-6.4)
  • Danny Lee is 25 under playing 4 years (-6.3)
  • Brooks Koepka is 19 under playing 3 years (-6.3)
  • Jason Day is 19 under playing 3 years (-6.3)
  • Brendan Steele is 29 under playing 5 years (-5.8)
  • Russell Henley is 17 under playing 3 years (-5.7)
  • Marc Leishman is 27 under playing 5 years (-5.4)
  • Vaughn Taylor is 21 under playing 4 years (-5.3)
  • Zach Johnson is 21 under playing 4 years (-5.3)

TO BE AWARE

Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Chase Koepka, Cameron Champ, and Graeme McDowell have withdrawn for either reasons to do with COVID-19 or personal reasons.  So be sure to check your picks

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 make lot’s of points this week

DraftKings tips

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

  • Rory McIlroy – $11,200
  • Bryson DeChambeau – $11,000
  • Justin Thomas – $10,800
  • Webb Simpson – $10,500
  • Jon Rahm – $10,200
  • Brooks Koepka – $10,000
  • Patrick Cantlay – $9,800
  • Xander Schauffele – $9,600
  • Dustin Johnson – $9,400
  • Justin Rose – $9,200
  • Collin Morikawa – $9.100
  • Abraham Ancer – $9.000

TPC Highland is one of those courses that you either like or you don’t like.  Look at guys like Bubba Watson, Paul Casey, Marc Leishman, Keegan Bradley, 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 Rory McIlroy at $11,200 he is a terrible pick when you consider all of the bad final rounds he has had.  Of course, you know it will stop anytime now, but we have been saying this for a long time, yes he was ok in Mexico and Farmers, but the others have seen final round problems, so it’s best to stay off of him for a bit.  Now Bryson DeChambeau at $11,000 is a great pick, yes he finished T-8th last year and T-9th in 2018 but his game looks very good at Colonial and Harbour Town.  Have to say his long ball off the tee is perfect for this course so he will be the favorite.  Have to think that Justin Thomas at $10,800 is a good buy, yes his record at TPC River Highlands, but he did finish T-3rd in 2016.  Webb Simpson at $10,500 is another good buy, he has mixed results in the Travelers but was T-8th in 2017 and T-5th in 2013. – HE WITHDREW. Jon Rahm at $10,200 is a big no, his game hasn’t been sharp and his two starts weren’t anything to mention.  You have to wonder when a player doesn’t come back for a while if it means he just didn’t like the course and Rahm hasn’t been back since 2016.  Patrick Cantlay at $9,800 is not a good bet, first, we really don’t know Cantlay’s health and since he hasn’t played a full event since Genesis back in February, have to think that four months of rust could take an event or two to work around.  Xander Schauffele at $9,600 is a toss-up in my mind, first, his Travelers record isn’t that great and he was very inconsistent at Harbour Town.  But TPC River Highlands should be perfect for him, but I still am not taking him.  Dustin Johnson at $9,400 is also a big no, he seems to be hunting for something. some rounds look great but others don’t.  He has only played at the Travelers twice, and never played well so have to say this week is a lost cause for him.  The complete opposite for Justin Rose at $9,200.  He is a great price for a guy that is playing well and should do well at TPC River Highlands.  Yes, he hasn’t played in the event since 2013 mostly because he plays in Europe now, but has played well at the Travelers and should have a great week.  Collin Morikawa at $9,100 is a tough choice, the price is right but I am worried about his final round 74 at Hilton Head.  Still, he is cheap enough to be ok.  Then we have the real bargain with Abraham Ancer at $9,000.  He played well at the Travelers last year finishing T-8th and looked great at Colonial and held tight down the stretch on Sunday to finish 2nd at the RBC Heritage.

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

Off the bat, you have Paul Casey at $8,900.  It seems like a no brainer with his great record in this event, but his short game and putting are in sad shape and we will see if he sorted this all out over the break.  By best pick has to be Bubba Watson at $8,800.  He plays great at TPC River Highlands winning three times but his finish was great at Heritage and was T-7th at the Charles Schwab.  With Patrick Reed at $8,700, you have to take him seriously.  Had a T-5th in 2017 and had a T-7th at the Charles Schwab.  But in the same breath, he did miss the cut at Harbour Town.  Sungjae Im is at $8,600 and was T-21st last year at the Travelers.  Just like with Reed he was T-10th at Colonial but missed the cut at the Heritage.  Sergio Garcia is also a good buy at $8,500, he has done well at TPC River Highlands and was T-5th at Harbour Town.  The only problem, do we trust Sergio with our hard earn money, he has let us down many times over the years.  Taking about a player letting us down, we have Jordan Spieth at $8,400.  He is a past winner at the Travelers but since then was T-42nd in 2018 and missed the cut last year.  He finished poorly at Hilton Head, save your money.  Gary Woodland is $8,300 and on paper, TPC River Highlands should be good for him and it hasn’t been.  Still, he has played well since the break and he may be a good pick.  Tony Finau is $8,200 and despite not playing well on this course, you think that he could, so he is cheap enough to take a gamble on him.  My big pick is Joaquin Niemann at $7,900.  The stars seem to line up perfectly for him, he was T-5th at the Travelers in his only start in the event last year and played great at both Charles Schwab and RBC Heritage, he is 25 under in the 8 rounds.  Looking for a great long shot?  Try Brian Harman at $7,600.  He was T-23rd at Charles Schwab and T-28th at Heritage.  But we like the fact that at the Travelers he was 3rd in 2015, T-6th in 2018 and T-8th last year.

Some of the “bargains” this week at the Travelers

Keegan Bradley at $7,400 has played this event in the last nine years and in 2017 was T-8th and was T-2nd last year.  He was T-32nd at the Charles Schwab and think he will play well this week.  Can’t forget about the defending champion Chez Reavie at $7,300, he has been ok this year and will be good this week.  Have to say at $6,800 is a good price for Cameron Champ who hits it far and despite missing the cut last year could be better this year.  Do you want to take a possible wild ride?  Check out Michael Thompson who is $6,500, he was T-8th at the Heritage.  At the Travelers, he finished 4th in 2011 but in his next six cuts missed the cut.  Maybe he is playing good enough to repeat that performance.

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, this year because of coronavirus there won’t be any gallery but in past years — 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 and last year).  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.  The last two years have been a big snooze as the Bubba Watson won by three shots in 2018 and Chez Reavie won by four shots last year.

Here is a chart that shows exactly how close tournaments have been in the 68-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: 8

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 Chez Reavie was first in Strokes gained Tee-to-Green, 2nd in scrambling, and 4th in putting.  The year before Bubba Watson kept the trend going winning his third Travelers title.  He did it ranked 2nd in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and 5th in total putting and putting average.  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, 7 of them were in the top-five, and all of them were in the top-13 except for Russell Knox in 2016, so putting well is the key to being successful.
  • Hitting it far is more important than accuracy because the last 12 of 20 champions have been in the top-13 of the driving distance stat while only five winners have broken into the top-ten of the accuracy stat just once.  Last year’s winner Chez Reavie was the best of anyone since Peter Jacobsen also finished T-3rd in 2003.  In driving distance, Reavie ranked T-54th with a 279.3 average.  In 2018 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 23 champions, 16 have played those holes in 8-under or better, with Notah Begay III playing them the best in 16-under in 2000. Last year Chez Reavie played the par 4s in 13 under, in 2018 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 Chez Reavie hit 54 of 72 to rank T-7th, Bubba did about the same in 2018 hitting 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 17 champions, eight of them were in the top-ten.
  • Again the long day lookup is for great weather for the whole week, temperatures of 88 each day with very little chance of rain.  With the exception of Sunday which has late showers on Sunday afternoon, a lot like what happened in Hilton Head on Sunday.

TO BE AWARE

Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Chase Koepka, Cameron Champ, and Graeme McDowell have withdrawn for either reasons to do with COVID-19 or personal reasons.  So be sure to check your picks

Who to watch for at the Travelers Championship

Best Bets:

Brooks Koepka – Withdrew

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T57 T19 T9 T51

I like the way his game has improved on each outing. A win is not far away and it could be this week.

Bryson DeChambeau

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T8 T9 T26 T47

On courses that don’t favor him he was T-3rd at Colonial and T-8th at Harbour Town. TPC River Highlands couldn’t be better for his game, was T-8th last year, and T-9th in 2018. He could tear up this course with his long, straight drives.

Justin Thomas

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T36 T56 CUT T3 CUT T30

Was T-10th at Colonial, T-8th at RBC Heritage, has been 28 under in 8 rounds. If he could erase that one bad round per event, he will be a winner. Hasn’t been that impressive at TPC River Highlands except for in 2016 when he was T-3rd, so maybe that is a sign that he can do well

Best of the rest:

Bubba Watson

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T54 Win CUT T25 Win T31 4 T2 T38 Win T14 T6

Has shown some good finishes in 2020, was T-6th at Farmers, T-3rd at Phoenix, T-7th at Charles Schwab, played well at Heritage except for a third-round 73. In his last 8 rounds is 23 under par. The Travelers has become his little annuity, with his three wins at TPC River Highlands along with a runner-up and a 4th has won close to $5 million. Look for him to contend again.

Justin Rose

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T13 T9 CUT T19

His game seems to have come back after the break. T-3rd in Ft. Worth, T-14th at Harbour Town, is 30 under par and has been close to perfect. Hasn’t played at TPC River Highlands since 2013, was 3rd in 2005, T-9th in 2007, ’10 and T-13th in 2013.

Abraham Ancer

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T8 CUT T56

Was 2nd last week, T-14th at Charles Schwab playing them in 31 under par, his year has been one of consistency and promise including a runner-up at the American Express. He is knocking on the winner’s circle and will get there soon. Was T-8th last year at the Travelers opening with a 64 and closing with a 63.

Webb Simpson

– Withdrew

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
CUT T8 T34 T5 T29 T13 T57 T26 T37

Stunned a lot with missed cut last week at Charles Schwab, made up for it by winning at RBC Heritage. Was T-8th at Travelers in 2017, T-5th in 2013. The only thing to worry about is if he isn’t exhausted from winning at Harbour Town.

Solid contenders

Joaquin Niemann

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T5

Watch him because he could be peaking this week, was T-32nd at Colonial and T-5th at RBC Heritage. Reason to be happy about this week, in his only start at Travelers was T-5th last year with rounds of 69-65-69-66.

Paul Casey

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T5 T2 T5 T17 2

He always has done well at River Highlanders, in five starts has only been over 5th once, in 2015 when he was T-17th. But he has finished 2nd twice and T-5th twice. In 20 rounds is 58 under par as he has been in the 60s 17 times. He has not played since Mexico when he finished 11th.

Sergio Garcia

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T25 T2 T43

Hardest player to judge, he is up one minute like his T-5th at the RBC Heritage and down the next minute like his missed cut at Charles Schwab. Not a regular at the Travelers, has played it since 2015, was runner-up in 2014.

Gary Woodland

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T38 T20 WD T63

An event and course he should dominate, but in 4 starts his best finish was T-20th but maybe this week will be different. Was 9th at the Charles Schwab, T-62nd at the RBC Heritage, we know he has the potential to be a lot better

Those whose game can’t be trusted right now:

Rory McIlroy

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T12 T17

Played twice at Travelers, T-12th in 2018, and T-17th in 2017. His game has been great in the first three rounds but he struggles in the final round. At Colonial was 74 in the final round, 70 at RBC Heritage. If he can overcome this problem, he can dominate again.

Jon Rahm

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T25 T64

Missed the cut at Charles Schwab, T-33rd at RBC Heritage. Hasn’t played well at Travelers, was T-25th in 2016 and T-64th in 2015, again the course doesn’t seem to be up his alley.

Dustin Johnson

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T31 WD T34

Struggling with every part of his game has been more accurate off the tee but his putting has been worst than in past years. Three starts at Travelers best was a T-31st in his last start in 2014. This course hasn’t inspired him, just think he is still working to find something, won’t find it this week.

Be careful with these players:

Patrick Cantlay

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T15 T15 CUT CUT T24

He is a really good player but hasn’t done well since finishing 4th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Making his first start since the break, we still wonder why he didn’t play at Heritage on a course he dominates on. Was T-15th at Travelers in 2018 and ’19, so he can play ok on the course.

Jordan Spieth

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
CUT T42 Win

Showed some promise with his first three rounds at Colonial but regressed with a 71 in the final round. This spilled over at Harbour Town as he finished 75-69 over the weekend. Yes, he won the first year he played at the Travelers, but was T-42nd in 2018 and missed the cut last year. His game is not showing any improvement as he tries to find his form from 2015.

J.T. Poston

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
CUT CUT CUT

He was great finishing T-10th at Charles Schwab and T-8th at RBC Heritage. Poston’s big problem is his struggle at TPC River Highlands, has missed the cut in all three starts just think this isn’t the place for him.

Comments

  1. Thanks Sal. Appreciate all your info and detail. I had Webb Simpson last week and vaulted up the standings in my golf pool. Since he won I can use him again – do I go back to the well this week with him at The Travelers? Do any of these guys get tired from winning week to week? Would be interesting to know what the all-time stats are of players who have won back to back weeks? We know Byron Nelson went on a roll winning 11 in a row during WWII.

  2. I would save him for Wyndham, that is a place he always does well at.
    Can’t say the same for Travelers, plus it’s hard to keep up the good play for two straight weeks. Look what happened to Berger, his good play at Harbour Town burnt him out for playing this week

  3. mikeg-3@live.com says:

    Your thoughts on Carlos Ortiz. you mentioned that the fairways were very forgiving that seems to be his problem in the few events

  4. If your looking for a top-25 Ortiz is your man, it’s possible this year. But anything in the top-ten I don’t see happening and him contending won’t happen.

  5. mstouder@comcast.net says:

    Sal. What are your thoughts on Kevin Tway? Pretty rough 2020 season prior to COVID, but has played this tournament well.

  6. Just like you I was very impressed the way Tway has played on this golf course. But if you look at is 2020 stats they are very dismal. What made the decision for me not to pick him was due to him missing the cut at both Colonial and Hilton Head. No that doesn’t mean that Tway can’t win, a couple years back someone won at Wells Fargo after missing seven straight cuts, think it was James Hahn, but it just shows that anything is possible on the PGA Tour. But to answer your question, I hold out little hope for Tway.

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