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BlogTravelers Championship Preview and Picks

Travelers Championship

June 24th – 27th, 2021

TPC River Highlands

Cromwell, CT

Par: 70 / Yardage: 6.841

Purse: $7.4 million

with $1,332,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Dustin Johnson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 51 of the top 100 and 24 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with five players from the top-ten #2 Dustin Johnson, #6 Bryson DeChambeau, #7 Patrick Cantlay, #8 Brooks Koepka and #9 Patrick Reed. The other top 50 players are #15 Tony Finau, #18 Scottie Scheffler, #19 Harris English, #20 Paul Casey, #23 Abraham Ancer, #28 Cameron Smith, #30 Phil Mickelson, #31 Joaquin Niemann, #32 Matthew Wolff, #35 Sam Burns, #38 Garrick Higgo, #39 Kevin Na, #40 Max Homa, #41 Adam Scott, #43 Marc Leishman, #44 Justin Rose, #45 Stewart Cink, #47 Brian Harman, #49 Si Woo Kim.

Last year there were 60 of the top-100 players and 33 of the top-50 in the field.

The field includes 13 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2021.  Those players are the top 25 players in the field: #1 Patrick Cantlay, #3 Bryson DeChambeau, #11 Stewart Cink #12 Sam Burns, #13 Harris English, #14 Cameron Smith, #15 Brooks Koepka, #17 Dustin Johnson, #18 Patrick Reed, #19 Scottie Scheffler, #20 Tony Finau, #21 Abraham Ancer and #25 Joaquin Niemann.

The field includes ten past champions: Dustin Johnson (2020), Chez Reavie (2019), Bubba Watson (2018, ’15 & ’10), 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 U.S. Open Palmetto Champ. Memorial Charles Schwab PGA Champ. Byron Nelson Wells Fargo Valspar Champ. Zurich Classic RBC Heritage Masters Texas Open WGC – Match Play
Scottie Scheffler
(357 pts)
T7
(110)
DNP 3
(90)
CUT
(-6.67)
T8
(66.67)
T47
(2)
DNP T29
(7)
T8
(16.67)
DNP T18
(21.33)
T54
(0)
2
(50)
Brooks Koepka
(270 pts)
T4
(160)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T2
(133.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Harris English
(263 pts)
3
(180)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP T64
(0)
T13
(24.67)
T43
(2.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T21
(19.33)
DNP T42
(4)
Patrick Cantlay
(253.67 pts)
T15
(70)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T23
(36)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T11
(13)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T18
(16)
Paul Casey
(250 pts)
T7
(110)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(106.67)
DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T26
(16)
DNP T28
(11)
Patrick Reed
(230.33 pts)
T19
(62)
DNP 5
(70)
CUT
(-6.67)
T17
(44)
DNP T6
(20)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T28
(11)
Kevin Streelman
(223.17 pts)
T15
(70)
DNP T13
(37)
T20
(20)
T8
(66.67)
DNP T26
(8)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T33
(5.67)
DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
Phil Mickelson
(182 pts)
T62
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Win
(176)
DNP 69
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Abraham Ancer
(179 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T14
(24)
T8
(66.67)
DNP 2
(33.33)
5
(23.33)
DNP T18
(10.67)
T26
(16)
T23
(9)
T18
(16)
Ian Poulter
(177.17 pts)
T40
(20)
T25
(25)
DNP T3
(60)
T30
(26.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T21
(9.67)
DNP T48
(0.67)
T26
(16)
DNP T9
(22.5)
Charley Hoffman
(171.67 pts)
T57
(0)
DNP T57
(0)
T3
(60)
T17
(44)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
T11
(13)
T18
(10.67)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP
Brian Harman
(165.33 pts)
T19
(62)
DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
T12
(25.33)
DNP T5
(35)
Guido Migliozzi
(160 pts)
T4
(160)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Doc Redman
(148 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
T42
(8)
T59
(0)
DNP T9
(30)
CUT
(-3.33)
T39
(3.67)
T17
(11)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T44
(2)
DNP
Tony Finau
(126.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T32
(18)
T20
(20)
T8
(66.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP T10
(26.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T28
(11)
Bryson DeChambeau
(117.67 pts)
T26
(48)
DNP T18
(32)
DNP T38
(16)
T55
(0)
T9
(15)
DNP DNP DNP T46
(2.67)
DNP T42
(4)
Keegan Bradley
(113.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T17
(44)
DNP T18
(10.67)
2
(33.33)
T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP T23
(9)
DNP
Justin Rose
(113 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T20
(20)
T8
(66.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T11
(13)
DNP 7
(36.67)
DNP DNP
Sam Burns
(112 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T50
(1)
DNP WD
(-6.67)
2
(66.67)
DNP Win
(44)
T4
(26.67)
T39
(3.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Garrick Higgo
(112 pts)
CUT
(-20)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP T64
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Patton Kizzire
(111.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
T3
(60)
DNP T3
(60)
T58
(0)
T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP
Marc Leishman
(107.67 pts)
64
(0)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T28
(11)
Rickie Fowler
(106.67 pts)
DNP DNP T11
(39)
DNP T8
(66.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
(11)
DNP
Dustin Johnson
(106 pts)
T19
(62)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP T13
(12.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T28
(11)
Joaquin Niemann
(105.33 pts)
T31
(38)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T50
(0.67)
T30
(26.67)
DNP T18
(10.67)
T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP T40
(6.67)
DNP T18
(16)
Stewart Cink
(103.33 pts)
T57
(0)
DNP T47
(3)
DNP T30
(26.67)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP
Aaron Wise
(102.67 pts)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP T17
(44)
T55
(0)
T9
(15)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T44
(2)
DNP
Bo Van Pelt
(95.67 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T65
(0)
T39
(3.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP
Chesson Hadley
(89 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP
Si Woo Kim
(88.33 pts)
T40
(20)
DNP T9
(45)
WD
(-3.33)
CUT
(-13.33)
T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
T12
(25.33)
T23
(9)
T56
(0)
Talor Gooch
(87 pts)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
T14
(24)
T44
(8)
T39
(7.33)
T26
(8)
CUT
(-3.33)
T17
(11)
DNP DNP DNP T56
(0)
Russell Henley
(86.67 pts)
T13
(74)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T71
(0)
DNP T72
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP DNP T28
(11)
Troy Merritt
(86.33 pts)
T65
(0)
DNP T50
(1)
7
(36.67)
DNP T7
(36.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T8
(16.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP
Brandt Snedeker
(85 pts)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP T50
(0.67)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP T11
(13)
T4
(26.67)
T42
(2.67)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP
Harry Higgs
(83.33 pts)
DNP DNP 68
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
T4
(106.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T59
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Emiliano Grillo
(81.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T8
(33.33)
T38
(16)
DNP T14
(12)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP
K.H. Lee
(79.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T65
(0)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
Win
(88)
T58
(0)
T29
(7)
T23
(9)
T56
(0)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP
Bubba Watson
(75.17 pts)
T50
(2)
DNP WD
(-5)
DNP 80
(0)
DNP T18
(10.67)
T13
(12.33)
T8
(16.67)
DNP T26
(16)
DNP T9
(22.5)
Matthew Wolff
(74.33 pts)
T15
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DQ
(-3.33)
DNP T28
(11)
Pat Perez
(72 pts)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP T39
(7.33)
T26
(8)
T29
(7)
T21
(9.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T67
(0)
DNP
Francesco Molinari
(70.67 pts)
T13
(74)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP 52
(0)
DNP DNP
Kyle Stanley
(70.67 pts)
DNP DNP T42
(8)
T8
(33.33)
DNP DNP T26
(8)
T39
(3.67)
T23
(9)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T14
(12)
DNP
Hudson Swafford
(70 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
T62
(0)
T45
(3.33)
CUT
(-13.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Scott Stallings
(69 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T67
(0)
DNP T3
(60)
T43
(2.33)
T29
(7)
T11
(13)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP
Keith Mitchell
(67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T26
(16)
T3
(30)
69
(0)
T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP T17
(11)
DNP
Cameron Smith
(66.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
T9
(15)
T10
(26.67)
DNP T28
(11)
Max Homa
(63.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T6
(20)
T17
(11)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T18
(16)
Mackenzie Hughes
(62.5 pts)
T15
(70)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T52
(0)
T40
(6.67)
DNP T9
(22.5)
Seamus Power
(61 pts)
DNP T19
(31)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(30)
T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Cameron Tringale
(61 pts)
DNP DNP T26
(24)
T32
(12)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T3
(30)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T9
(15)
DNP
Satoshi Kodaira
(58.67 pts)
DNP T19
(31)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
T11
(13)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Joseph Bramlett
(53.67 pts)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T7
(36.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T63
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP
Vincent Whaley
(53.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP T26
(16)
T26
(8)
T29
(7)
T29
(7)
DNP DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP
Chris Kirk
(53.33 pts)
DNP DNP T26
(24)
T69
(0)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
27
(7.67)
T7
(18.33)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP
Ryan Armour
(52.67 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP T26
(16)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
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 Palmetto Champ. Memorial Charles Schwab PGA Champ. Byron Nelson Wells Fargo Valspar Champ. Zurich Classic RBC Heritage Masters Texas Open WGC – Match Play
Peter Malnati
(-51.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T43
(2.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
31
(6.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Brian Gay
(-43.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
81
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Sam Ryder
(-32.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
T52
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T17
(11)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Martin Trainer
(-28 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T44
(2)
DNP
Zach Johnson
(-27.67 pts)
CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T32
(12)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T51
(0)
T29
(7)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
J.J. Spaun
(-27.33 pts)
CUT
(-20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T47
(2)
T18
(10.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Sebastian Cappelen
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T59
(0)
DNP
William McGirt
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Ryan Brehm
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Hunter Mahan
(-25 pts)
DNP WD
(-5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T54
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Things are back to normal, the Travelers is now after the U.S. Open and the band of PGA Tour players went cross country, which most of them getting an assist from the Travelers organizers who charter flights from San Diego for the players, caddies, and families getting to Hartford a lot easier.  Yes, the Travelers is one of those favorites of the players, mostly because of how much the community grasps it with great attendance, along with a course players love to play and being able to enjoy Hartford which is a fun town.

This week begins the final 11 weeks of the season. In these weeks we have the last major of the year, the British Open, along with a WGC event at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, the Olympics in Japan then ending with the three-week FedExCup playoffs.  So you would think that with the British Open in three weeks, players could take some time off.  But the field is excellent as five of the top-ten and ten of the top-25 of the World Rankings will tee it up.

But before we move on to the Travelers, let’s look at some of the things that happened at Torrey Pines and the repercussions those actions will have.

Jon Rahm

won’t be at the Travelers, but he made a significant mark with his U.S. Open win in a dramatic fashion.  Hard to believe that three weeks ago he had COVID-19 which forced him to withdraw from the Memorial, even though he had a six-shot lead going into the final round.  Many thought that Rahm’s chances of winning the U.S. Open we took away.  But Rahm was a lucky person, even though he tested positive he endured very little of the problems related to COVID-19.  In a way, it reminded me of what happened to astronaut Ken Mattingly, who in 1970 was grounded from flying on Apollo 13 just days before the mission because he was exposed to rubella.  It was terrible for Mattingly, but when the mission ran into major problems in which the astronauts just barely made it back alive.  For Mattingly, who never broke out with the measles and it turned into a stroke of luck because Mattingly didn’t have to endure the dangerous trip home from the accident.

Now, this isn’t the first time that someone quarantine in the weeks before a major, last October Dustin Johnson came down with COVID-19 three weeks before the Masters and was forced to quarantine.  But the same as Rahm, things turned out good for Johnson as he came out of quarantine to win the November Masters.

Rahm earned his first major by shooting 67 on Sunday, which, along with Branden Grace and Patrick Reed, was the low score of the day and the week.  Another significant accomplishment that wasn’t noted, Rahm was one of only 4 players to play the back nine without a bogey or double bogey.  What I will remember the most was all of the birdie putts he missed on the back nine.  Starting at 13, he missed from 15 feet, then missed from 10 feet at 14, 30 feet at 15, and 21 feet at 16.  Rahm has never putted well on the back nine of a major, but what he did at 17 and 18 showed a newfound maturity and won the U.S. Open thanks to it.  First was the 24 footer at 17 and then 18 feet at the final hole,  With that Rahm became the first U.S. Open winner to finish birdie-birdie since Tom Watson accomplished the feat at Pebble in 1982.  But the most significant accomplishment Rahm achieved was to rank in the top-20 in the primary strokes-gained metrics, off the tee, approach shots, around the green, and putting.

In a way, even Rahm would admit that Torrey Pines has some good karma for him.  Ever since Rahm first saw Torrey in 2016, he has fallen in love with the area.  The cliffs of Torrey Pines remind Rahm of the area of Spain he grew up in.  The town of Barrika is also on cliffs along the Atlantic Ocean, and Golf Channel showed pictures that showed the resemblance.  Rahm also had great memories playing Torrey for the first time in 2017; he won the Farmers Insurance Open when in the final round, he made eagle at 13 and then finished birdie-eagle for the three-shot win.  In his other four starts, he has always contended going into the final round, he was runner-up in 2020.  The place also had special memories as he used the cliffside overlooking the Pacific at Torrey Pines State Reserve to propose to his girlfriend, Kelly.  They also love taking vacation regularly in the area.  So the place has a special place in both their hearts.

More importantly, this victory could springboard his career and could be the beginning of other big wins.  He has always had the game from tee to green but could not make those birdies at essential times to claim a win.  He also struggled with anger issues, which he has eliminated.  Most writers have this cliché way of saying that the future is bright whenever someone wins, which I always laugh at.  But I can say without a doubt that Rahm will win another major and will become a force in future years, he is that good of a player.

It was sad to see Louis Oosthuizen

again play well in a major but finish 2nd.  I remember distinctly in 2010 when Louis Oosthuizen won the British Open at St. Andrews and many of us couldn’t figure out how this player from South Africa who many didn’t know, could win such a big championship on a course like St Andrews.  In the eight previous majors Oosthuizen had played in, he only made one cut, finishing 73rd at the 2008 PGA Championship.  After rounds of 65-67-69 at St. Andrews, there was no way he was going to lose that week.  For many, it was shocking, the previous winners at St. Andrews were Tiger Woods, John Daly, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, and Jack Nicklaus.  After those impeccable names, everyone figured that a great player like Rory McIlroy or even Tiger Woods would win the title.  So it was a shock to the system to see a South African that not many people knew of the win on such hollow grounds.  Since then, Oosthuizen has contended in many majors, and with his 2nd place finish at Torrey Pines, he now has six career runner-up finish in major championships.  This guy has never won an event on U.S. soil, and he is the third active player with six or more runner-up finish in majors (joining Phil Mickelson at 11 and Tiger Woods with 7).  This was his second straight runner-up in a major, he was T-2nd at Kiawah last month.  He has played well enough to win and may win very soon, but right now have to shake our heads at his run of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Brooks Koepka

continues to amaze us with his major antics.  It would seem that no matter what happens if Brooks can walk and swing a club, he will find a way to contend.  At Kiawah last month, Koepka was excellent from tee to green but could not make putts.  He was 24th in Strokes Gained putting, just like the PGA Championship didn’t make enough putts to carry him over.  But his problem is simple, just not enough reps because of the knees.  You can’t prep for a major by playing the week before and missing the cut.  I am not ripping him, he has done great things with all of his injuries, and you have to think that the healthier he gets, the better he plays, and you know he will find a way to be on top of the leaderboard at the British Open next month.

Rory McIlroy

again showed a lot of inconsistency in his game.  We can also sense that McIlroy is growing impatient at not being able to close the deal.  McIlroy won four majors in a span of 16 majors between the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2014 PGA Championship.  But after his 2014 PGA Championship victory, he has not won another major.  McIlroy went into the final nine close to the lead on Sunday, with some hindsight of what happened if McIlroy could have played the back nine in even par instead of three over who knows how this rewrites history.  But he wasn’t able to close the deal. With a bogey at 11 and a double at 12 McIlroy shot himself out.  If instead of shooting a back nine 39, Rory shot 34, he would have tied Rahm.  You also have to wonder if Rory would have been close down the stretch if he couldn’t have changed the outcome of how Rahm would have finished.  But it didn’t happen, and again this finish hits hard on McIlroy’s confidence levels.  McIlroy can’t seem to change the narrative on playing more consistently, even with the hard work, the time, and effort with every coach under the sun. Still, without that confident feeling and attitude he had ten years ago, things will only get more challenging for McIlroy.

Xander Schauffele

had a tough weekend and finished T-7th.  In five U.S. Open starts, it was his worst finish. He is five for five in top-tens in the U.S. Open.  Xander has finished nine times in the top-ten in 17 major starts, and again, the future is very bright.  Despite playing well, it just wasn’t good enough as we have to think he will only get better and better.  The same with Collin Morikawa, who had a great round going on Sunday before a double bogey on 13 put an end to his run.  Like Schauffele, his record in majors is remarkable, and we have to think that he and Xander will put their marks in the remaining events for the year.

Two players in trouble are both Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau.

For Johnson, he plays a lot like McIlroy, good in places but not consistent for 72 holes.  In Johnson’s case, he has struggled with the putter and needs to regain that magic.  With the Travelers this week, he is the defending champion, and we wonder if Johnson can do what McIlroy did and win out of the blue.  Of course, he can, but right now, he has very little time left to get going in the right direction. I still think Royal St. George’s will be perfect for him, and he can snap out of it.  Guess we will get an indication this week.

As for Bryson, frankly, he is a gambler’s worst nightmare.  In any tournament round, he has a one-shot advantage on just about everyone in the field, but this bomb-and-gouge mentality is very flawed in majors.  Sure he got away with it at Winged Foot, but in most cases, he is like dogs that chase after cars, they’re going to get clobbered.  That happened to him on Sunday as he played his last eight holes in 8 over par to go from the lead to finishing T-26th.  I see this happen so many times. Remember the PGA Championship last year won by Collin Morikawa?  DeChambeau had the lead after making birdie at 7, but then got wild and made bogeys at 8 and 9.  Again his bomb-and-gouge does work in some tournaments.  But in a major, the severity of a course set up will cause pain sooner or later.  There is a reason why the best of the best win at majors.  You never saw Ben Hogan or Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods flail at the ball without the thought of the danger to do this.  Just have to wonder how much more Bryson has to endure as he did on Sunday before he realizes that he can do some great things with his game if he can hit more fairways and play the smarter type of game at these ultimate events.  In a way, both Nicklaus and Woods at the same age as Bryson had the capabilities to “bomb-and-gouge” it, but they played smart golf at the majors and that is the reason they own 33 majors between the two of them.

Last but not least have to talk about Phil Mickelson.

From the very beginning when he made bogey on his first hole on Thursday you wondered if it was possible.  He then made bogey on two more holes and even though he birdied the 17th hole (his 8th of the day) his only birdie of the day the writing was on the wall.  He shot 69 on Friday for a sliver of hope, but never got rolling.  The reality is simple, Mickelson’s game is too old for a U.S. Open or a PGA Championship venue.  That is unless it’s a Kiawah, Pinehurst or a Pebble Beach, someplace that takes the use of rough as a penalty.  Now the good news, Mickelson will be able to tee it up in every major from now through the 2025 U.S. Open.  So there is time left to win another major and Phil has four more years at the U.S. Open to win that.  The odds aren’t good, but the odds wasn’t good on Tom Watson in 2009 when he almost won the British Open at 58 years old.  So if Phil can continue keeping his body fit and limber you never know when he will be in the right place at the right time like he was at the PGA Championship last month.  One thing that everyone will say, we are all rooting for him.

Tournament information:

This is the 70th 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 68.63 and was ranked 32nd out of 41 courses.  In 2019 the course played to a 69.72 average 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 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 2021.
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 Dustin Johnson, 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). Last year Dustin Johnson won by a shot. Johnson’s game was in flux due to injury. After the break from the pandemic, Johnson missed the cut at Charles Schwab and then was T-17th at Hilton Head. So it wasn’t shocking to see Johnson win, but after that had some problems with his game before that got fixed and he finished up the year on a high. In 2019 Chez Reavie won by four shots. He 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 now and showing some promise.
The field for this year isn’t as good as last year, but still pretty good with five of the top-ten in the world ranking. This is a fun event, in past years they have had massive crowds of 80,000 on the weekend. Last year they had no gallery and this year will have 10,000 each day.

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 68.63 average making it the 32nd hardest course on tour (out of 41 on tour last year). Hitting it long is essential, last year it ranked 17th on tour with an average of all drives being 289.8. But you don’t have to be accurate, it ranked 29th on tour last year with a 64.462 average so driving it straight isn’t important. Now making birdies is important as 1,774 were made last year making it the 37th 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 3.95, it ranked T-34th on tour. 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 a significant advantage. Last year’s winner Dustin Johnson ranked 6th for the week while 2019 winner Chez Reavie ranked 1st, 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 27th hardest on tour as the winner Dustin Johnson ranked T-2nd, 2019 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 20th hardest as winner Johnson was T-33rd, 2019 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 the 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-23th in this stat, Johnson was 14 under and best while in 2019 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 seven 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 the 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, 140 have stats on the PGA Tour for 2021.

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

Here is a link for all 140 players stats for 2021

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 68 under in 24 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Bryson DeChambeau is 46 under in 20 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Brendan Steele is 44 under in 22 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Bubba Watson is 42 under in 20 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Brian Harman is 41 under in 20 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Chez Reavie is 39 under in 22 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Kevin Streelman is 37 under in 20 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Keegan Bradley is 36 under in 22 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Patrick Reed is 36 under in 20 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Charley Hoffman is 34 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Zach Johnson is 34 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Marc Leishman is 32 under in 22 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Patrick Cantlay is 31 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Patrick Rodgers is 31 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Mackenzie Hughes is 29 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Si Woo Kim is 29 under in 14 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Abraham Ancer is 27 under in 14 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Danny Lee is 27 under in 16 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Russell Henley is 27 under in 14 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Jason Day is 26 under in 14 rounds, playing 4 years
*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)
  • Paul Casey is 68 under, playing 6 years (-11.3)
  • Patrick Cantlay is 31 under, playing 3 years (-10.3)
  • Bryson DeChambeau is 46 under, playing 5 years (-9.2)
  • Adam Long is 17 under, playing 2 years (-8.5)
  • Lanto Griffin is 16 under, playing 2 years (-8.0)
  • Chase Seiffert is 15 under, playing 2 years (-7.5)
  • Henrik Norlander is 15 under, playing 2 years (-7.5)
  • Brendan Steele is 44 under, playing 6 years (-7.3)
  • Mackenzie Hughes is 29 under, playing 4 years (-7.3)
  • Si Woo Kim is 29 under, playing 4 years (-7.3)
  • Bubba Watson is 42 under, playing 6 years (-7.0)
  • Brendon Todd is 21 under, playing 3 years (-7.0)
  • Joaquin Niemann is 14 under, playing 2 years (-7.0)
  • Sam Burns is 14 under, playing 2 years (-7.0)
  • Brian Harman is 41 under, playing 6 years (-6.8)
  • Charley Hoffman is 34 under, playing 5 years (-6.8)
  • Zach Johnson is 34 under, playing 5 years (-6.8)
  • Abraham Ancer is 27 under, playing 4 years (-6.8)
  • Russell Henley is 27 under, playing 4 years (-6.8)
  • Tyler Duncan is 20 under, playing 3 years (-6.7)
  • Chez Reavie is 39 under, playing 6 years (-6.5)
  • Jason Day is 26 under, playing 4 years (-6.5)
  • Kevin Tway is 25 under, playing 4 years (-6.3)
  • Brooks Koepka is 19 under, playing 3 years (-6.3)
  • Kevin Streelman is 37 under, playing 6 years (-6.2)

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:

  • Dustin Johnson – $11,400
  • Bryson DeChambeau – $11,100
  • Brooks Koepka – $10,700
  • Patrick Cantlay – $10,400
  • Patrick Reed – $10,000
  • Paul Casey – $9,900
  • Scottie Scheffler – $9,600
  • Kevin Streelman – $9,400
  • Matthew Wolff – $9,300
  • Tony Finau – $9,200
  • Abraham Ancer – $9,100
  • Joaquin Niemann – $9,000

TPC Highland is one of those courses that you either like or don’t like.  Look at guys like Bubba Watson, Paul Casey, Marc Leishman, Keegan Bradley, and even Dustin Johnson.  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 Dustin Johnson at $11,400 yes he has earned his high position and big price, but frankly, it’s not in our best interest to pick him.  This isn’t the case of last week when Jon Rahm was playing great golf, Johnson is playing ok with the promise that he is close and could put it together at any time.  We have heard this from Johnson going back to the Heritage and his game may be ready, but his putter is not.  That is his problem right now and until he proves it, we won’t know the true meaning of how good Johnson’s game is.  Bryson DeChambeau at $11,100 is more appropriate to take, even with his backside 44 at the U.S. Open.  His game should work at TPC River Highlands and if he can avoid those high numbers that were on his scorecard on Sunday, he can win. I also like Brooks Koepka at $10,700, he played well at the U.S. Open, and feel he will do the same this week.  Patrick Cantlay at $10,400 is another to think about and frankly of the above two is a better choice.  He was T-15th at Torrey Pines and played well.  The best of the bunch was Paul Casey at $9,900, we have always thought this event would be one that he wins.  His game is perfect for the course and that is the reason he has always done well.  Casey is playing well right now, was T-4th at the PGA Championship, 6th at the Porsche European Open in Germany, and T-7th at the U.S. Open.  Scottie Scheffler at $9,600 is also a good choice because he was 3rd at Memorial and T-7th at Torrey Pines.  I am a bit hesitant since he missed the cut last year at the Travelers.  Kevin Streelman at $9,400 is a very savvy pick, his record is strong at TPC River Highlands, and he has solid results of late, was T-8th at the PGA Championship, T-20th at Colonial, T-13th at Memorial, and T-15th at Torrey Pines.  Matthew Wolff at $9,300 is an intriguing possibility with his T-15th at the U.S. Open.  He hasn’t done well in two starts at TPC River Highlands but his game is suited for the course.  In talking about Tony Finau at $9,200 I have to say no because he still is not right and has missed his last two cuts at the Travelers.  Abraham Ancer at $9,100 is worth exploring, he was T-11th last year at River Highlands and T-8th in 2019.  The only problem, he missed the cut at the U.S. Open and in Germany so his game may not be ready.  Last we have Joaquin Niemann at $9,000, I say no his game isn’t that great right now and despite a T-5th in 2019, he was 63rd last year.

My popular demand our feature in which we help you decide which guys make the cut the most in a tournament.  The importance of picking six players that play 72 holes is vital in playing well in Draftkings, and this list will help.  It’s a look going back to the 2010 Travelers on who has made the most cuts.  Of course, those who make a lot of cuts and are priced low are very helpful.  To get on this list, you have to make at least three Travelers starts:

  • Paul Casey made 6 cuts in 6 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 9,900.
  • Bryson DeChambeau made 5 cuts in 5 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 11,100.
  • Brooks Koepka made 4 cuts in 4 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 10,700.
  • Emiliano Grillo made 4 cuts in 4 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,300.
  • Ian Poulter made 4 cuts in 4 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,400.
  • Mackenzie Hughes made 4 cuts in 4 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,100.
  • Francesco Molinari made 3 cuts in 3 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,700.
  • Henrik Norlander made 3 cuts in 3 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,800.
  • Mark Hubbard made 3 cuts in 3 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,600.
  • Tyler Duncan made 3 cuts in 3 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,300.
  • Charley Hoffman made 9 cuts in 10 starts for a 90.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,600.
  • Keegan Bradley made 9 cuts in 10 starts for a 90.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,900.
  • Marc Leishman made 8 cuts in 9 starts for a 88.9%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,100.
  • Chez Reavie made 7 cuts in 8 starts for a 87.5%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,000.
  • Bo Van Pelt made 6 cuts in 7 starts for a 85.7%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,300.
  • Nick Watney made 5 cuts in 6 starts for a 83.3%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,100.
  • Bubba Watson made 9 cuts in 11 starts for a 81.8%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,900.
  • Brendan Steele made 8 cuts in 10 starts for a 80.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,200.
  • Vaughn Taylor made 8 cuts in 10 starts for a 80.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,600.
  • Jason Day made 4 cuts in 5 starts for a 80.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,500.
  • Brian Harman made 7 cuts in 9 starts for a 77.8%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,800.
  • Ryan Moore made 7 cuts in 9 starts for a 77.8%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,800.
  • Zach Johnson made 7 cuts in 9 starts for a 77.8%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,100.
  • Brandt Snedeker made 6 cuts in 8 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,200.
  • Abraham Ancer made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 9,100.
  • Beau Hossler made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,800.
  • D.J. Trahan made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,300.
  • Richy Werenski made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,900.
  • Russell Henley made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,300.
  • Si Woo Kim made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,500.

(Those that I like are in bold)

 

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

Off the bat, you have Bubba Watson at $8,900.  His record of three wins at the Travelers makes one wonder if he is worth the money, I say no.  He may have won his third title in 2018 but missed the cut in 2017 and last year.  In 2021 he has been very inconsistent, missed the cut at the Memorial, and was T-50th at the U.S. Open. Had an ugly 77-76 over the weekend at Torrey Pines.  Russell Henley is $8,300 and has had a T-6th at the Travelers in 2018.  Was T-32nd last year and for the PGA Tour was T-13th at the U.S. Open.  Harris English at $8,200 is probably the best pick in this category, mostly not because he record isn’t great at Travelers (did finish T-7th in 2014), but the fact that he has been in contention his last two starts at Palmetto (T-14th) and 3rd at the U.S. Open.  Marc Leishman at $8,100 is priced right for a past champion.  Hasn’t done much at the Travelers since winning in 2012, on tour not much individually, a T-5th at the Masters and 64th at the U.S. Open but he did win the team event last month with Cameron Smith.  Now you may want to risk $7,900 for Garrick Higgo, not because he missed the cut at Torrey, but he won at Palmetto and has two other wins on the European Tour the last few months.  Keegan Bradley at $7,900 has a lot of roots in the Northeast and loves playing near Boston.  He was T-2nd in 2019, he also was 2nd at Valspar last month.  Phil Mickelson at $7,800 is also a two-time winner in this event, but that was 20 years ago.  He is playing well and has to think he is worth the risk.  Doc Redman at $7,600 is also worth the risk, he was T-11th last year and in 2021 was T-2nd at Palmetto Championship.  The same with Kevin Na at $7,500.  Like that he was 5th at the Travelers last year and the fact that this is a course he can do well on.  Mixed results in 2021 but worth the risk.

Some of the “bargains” this week at the Travelers

Rafael Cabrera-Bello is worth the $7,400 because he makes a lot of cuts.  But the next two players are winners no matter why.  Can’t figure how DraftKings have priced them so low.  First is Stewart Cink at $7,300, he won the Travelers in 1997 and 2008, was T-2nd last year, and has played well all year.  As for Rickie Fowler at $7,300 he is ready to break the slump as he was T-8th at the PGA Championship and T-11th at the Memorial.  Guido Migliozzi at $7,200 is good because he was T-4th at the U.S. Open and runner-up in the two events in Europe in May.  Mackenzie Hughes is only $7,100 which is cheap after he played well at the U.S. Open finishing T-15th.  Have to say this missed the cut in his previous five cuts but plays well at TPC Riverlands.  Last year was T-3rd at the Travelers.

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 but after COVID-19 they will have 10,000 a day — 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 Bubba Watson won by three shots in 2018 and Chez Reavie won by four shots in 2018.  Last year Dustin Johnson shot a third-round 61 and then 67 in the final round for a one-shot win over Kevin Steelman.

Here is a chart that shows exactly how close tournaments have been in the 69-year history of the Travelers Championship:

  • Tournaments tied after 72 holes: 23
  • Tournaments won by one shot: 24
  • 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.
  • In 2019 Chez Reavie was first in Strokes gained Tee-to-Green, 2nd in scrambling, and 4th in putting.  Last year Dustin Johnson was 6th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, T-33rd in scrambling, and 4th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green.  In 2018 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 eleven champions in the total number of putts, eight 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 21 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 Dustin Johnson wasn’t the best as he ranked T-47th, but in 2019 Chez Reavie was the best of anyone since Peter Jacobsen also finished T-3rd in 2003.  In driving distance, Johnson is 16th, while in 2019 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 inaccuracy, so driving it long does have its advantages.
  • Playing the par 4s well is another key. Of the last 24 champions, 17 have played those holes in 8-under or better, with Notah Begay III playing them the best in 16-under in 2000. Last year Dustin Johnson played the par 4s in 14 under.  In 2019 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 Dustin Johnson hit 56 of 72 to rank T-18th.  In 2019 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.
  • Now those playing in the U.S. Open experienced a lot of different weather, most of the time it was cold with the marine layer to clear away to sunshine. But this week it’s going to be 80 and humid every day with temperatures in the low 80s.  Good news, light 8 to 10 mph wind for the first two days and 13 mph for the weekend.

Who to watch for at the Travelers Championship

Best Bets:

Bryson DeChambeau

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T6 T8 T9 T26 T47

TPC River Highlands is a course in which bomb-and-gouge will work, he was T-6th last year, T-8th in 2019, and T-9th in 2018. Forget what happened on the back nine at Torrey Pines on Sunday. This course is perfect for Bryson who has won three times since he last played it.

Kevin Streelman

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
2 T15 T33 T8 CUT CUT Win CUT T47 T6 T42 T51

Loves the Travelers winning it in 2014. Was Runner-up in 2020, this is a course that suits his game. His game has been great in his last four starts, T-8th at the PGA, T-20th at Colonial, T-13th at the Memorial, and T-15th at the U.S. Open.

Paul Casey

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T32 T5 T2 T5 T17 2

Has contented and come close in four of his six starts. Was runner-up in 2015 & ‘18. Has been great in his last three starts, T-4th at the PGA Championship, 6th in Porsche European Open, and T-7th at the U.S. Open

Best of the rest:

Harris English

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T71 CUT CUT T25 T7 T43 T64

T-7th at River Highlands in 2014, the course is good for his game. Was 3rd at Torrey Pines, his game improved every day, was T-14th at Palmetto Championship.

Patrick Cantlay

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T11 T15 T15 CUT CUT T24

Seems to improve every year he plays TPC River Highlands, was T-11th last year. Winner at Memorial, was good at Torrey finishing T-15th

Rickie Fowler

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T13 T13 CUT

Yes it’s safe to bet on Rickie this week, feel his slump has peaked and his game will start to improve. Hasn’t played in this event since he was T-13th in 2013.

Brooks Koepka

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T57 T19 T9 T51

Looks like his knee injury is doing better, didn’t show any signs of problems or inability to do normal things again. Played very well at Torrey Pines. He must be feeling better to play this week, look for him to play well.

Solid contenders

Stewart Cink

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT T2 CUT T81 T47 CUT

Another course he has had success on, won in 1997 and 2008. Was T-2nd in 2018. His game is humming along, has made the cut in his last seven starts, won two months ago at Hilton Head. Keys to his good play improved putting the reason for two wins in nine months.

Dustin Johnson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
Win T31 WD

Course is perfect for his game and style of attack. The big question, if he won last year can he repeat? Of course, he can. He says that his game is close, we will see this week. His T-19th at the U.S. Open wasn’t bad.

Patrick Reed

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T24 T30 CUT T5 T11 CUT CUT T18 T47

Course should be good for his game, surprised he only has one top-ten, T-5th in 2017. Been knocking on the door of some good play, 5th at Memorial and T-19th at U.S. Open.

Phil Mickelson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T24 CUT

Was back to back winner in 2001 and 2002, so anything is possible. Still on a high after his PGA Championship win, as long as the confidence last we will seriously consider him.

Long shots that could come through:

Bubba Watson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT T54 Win CUT T25 Win T31 4 T2 T38 Win T14

Loves this course, has won the Travelers three times, and was runner-up once. His year has seen some good moments, was T-4th at Zozo Championship and T-9th at the Match Play, he still has some of the old energy

Doc Redman

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T11

Was T-11th last year in his only start at Travelers. His game has been on an upswing, was T-2nd at Palmetto Championship.

Keegan Bradley

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT T2 T47 T8 T25 T39 T31 T18 T29 T63

Likes playing the event, was T-2nd in 2019, T-8th in 2017. His game has been up and down, was runner-up at Valspar, but missed cut at Memorial.

Comments

  1. Had Rahm at Memorial….was allowed to use him again after our Commish put a poll on our sight to decide if we could use him again after his Covid forced WD and vote came thru to use him again by 1 vote. After losing Rahms winning dollars from Columbus, OH I picked him again at US Open and have moved into 5th place and can use him again. Not usually PC….I am going PC / PC this week at TPC River Highlands: Cantlay and Casey. Are you or other American media members able to go to The Open Championship this year at Royal St. Georges?

  2. Glad your pool allowed you not to lose out on Rahm. The big pool I am in wasn’t as kind so players that had Rahm not only lost his pick, but had to pay $20 because he didn’t get into the money.
    As for the British Open, I had decided back at the beginning of the year I wasn’t going because of all the travel restrictions. I guess things have gotten better, but I don’t think I would have gotten credentials from the R&A to attend. Show you how restrictive they are getting, NBC couldn’t get their crew in so they are going to do the show from their studios in Connecticut. They are going to take the world feed and add stuff to that, they will have a few cameras to cut around, but it will be the world feed. I think the only one’s going are the on grounds announcers, plus whoever does the interviews, guys like Hicks and Azinger will be in Connecticut. It’s a shame but have to do it that way.

  3. Hey boys. I have to pick one of these 3 players for a one and done. Anser (current form), Streelman (current form and Traveler success), Bubba. Suggestions?

  4. James Gittleman says

    Of the three I’d go with Cantlay!

  5. James Gittleman says

    Ok, Anzer

  6. Mark R. I worry about Bubba, he is so good on this course and has shown signs of brilliance in 2021. But at the end of the day, you just can’t course on him. Other than the team event which I give very little credence to, he was T-9th in the Match Play and T-4th at Zozo nine months ago. Again look what he did at Torrey Pines, 72.67 and then 77-76. Just can’t count on him, but he could play well. I think a good finish for Bubba is like 12th to 15th. The three guys I like the most are Harris English, Scottie Scheffler and you mentioned Kevin Streelman. If Streelman is available to you, grab him.

  7. James, Cantlay is a good pick.

  8. How about that Bubba implosion. Yikes!

  9. Have to say that Bubba has seen the best part of golf and he is just waiting for 2028 when he turns 50.

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