Travelers Championship Preview

06-20-17

For those of you who enjoy a deeper dive into the world of fantasy, here you go!

7,741 last week.

6,841 this week.

Exhale.

 66th Travelers Championship

 

TPC River Highlands

Cromwell, Connecticut

 

Yards: 6,841 per the official scorecard;

Par: 70 (35-35);

Greens: Bentgrass, Poa annua; 5,550 average square feet;

Stimpmeter: 10.5’+;

Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue, Ryegrass;

Water Hazards: 5

Bunkers: 119

Course Architect(s): Robert J. Ross & Maurice Kearney, 1928; Pete Dye (1982); Bobby Weed (1989); MacDonald & Sons (2016).

Purse: $6.8 million; $1.224 winner plus 500 FEC points.

Defending Champion:  Russell Knox held off Hartford favorite Jerry Kelly by holing a 12-foot-par putt on the final hole to win by a shot.

Notes: 156 players; top 70 and ties play the weekend.

Notes II: Erin Hills was officially listed at 7,741 last week so TPC River Highlands will play NOYNE HUNDRED YARDS shorter this week.

 

 

2016-17 PGA Tour Winners

 

Frys.com: Brendan Steele,

CIMB: Justin Thomas

WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama

Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**

Shriners: Rod Pampling

OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez

RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**

SBS TOC: Justin Thomas

Sony Open: Justin Thomas

CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*

Farmers: Jon Rahm*

WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama

AT&T Pebble Beach: Jordan Spieth

Genesis Open: Dustin Johnson

Honda: Rickie Fowler

WGC-MC: Dustin Johnson

Valspar: Adam Hadwin*

Arnold Palmer: Marc Leishman

WGC-Match Play: Dustin Johnson

Shell Houston Open: Russell Henley

Masters: Sergio Garcia

RBC Heritage: Wesley Bryan**

Valero Texas Open: Kevin Chappell*

Zurich Classic: Cameron Smith* & Jonas Blixt

Wells Fargo Championship: Brian Harman

THE PLAYERS: Si Woo Kim

AT&T Byron Nelson: Billy Horschel

Colonial: Kevin Kisner

Memorial: Jason Dufner

FESJC: Daniel Berger

U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka

 

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

 

 

 

Recent Travelers Champions

 

 

2016: Russell Knox, 266

2015: Bubba Watson, 264*

2014: Kevin Streelman, 265

2013: Ken Duke, 268*

2012: Marc Leishman, 266

2011: x-Freddie Jacobson, 260

2010: Bubba Watson, 266*

X-not playing this week; Y-first-time major winner

* playoff

 

 

The Particulars:

The Travelers is the perfect landing after a tough week at a major. Last season it was moved to August and provides the pillow to those who fought the big, wet Baltusrol the week before at the PGA Championship. This year it’s 6,841 yards of parkland track with 10.5′ Bent/Poa greens will be a direct contrast to last week at Erin Hills.

Only once in the last five years, 2013, has TPC River Highlands checked in the harder half of the courses used on Tour. At 6,841 yards, that’s hardly a surprise but it is also interesting that it has never been run over either. Even though major renovations before last year included green expansions to add new hole locations, new bunkering, bunkering removal and new teeing grounds, Jim Furyk still found time on Saturday to carve out the first 58 in Tour history. He becomes the only player to shoot multiple sub-60 rounds in his career and oddly he didn’t win either tournament. Daniel Berger and Justin Thomas both fired 62 on the weekend and the former course record, 60, was set in 2011 by then amateur Patrick Cantlay.

With just two par fives, those who can find birdies on the other 16 holes and avoid bogeys will have the advantage.

Also, with length not being the determining factor this week there will be more players in the mix. Of the last 11 winners, six have claimed their first Tour victory so previous experience in closing the deal is hardly necessary.

With no Olympics staring them in the face next week like it was last year, the focus should be on TPC River Highlands this week. And for the second year in a row there won’t be any jetlag as the jaunt from Milwaukee to Hartford doesn’t take all day.

The formula isn’t difficult this week: hit plenty of GIR to have as many birdie chances as possible. Looking at the winners here doesn’t shape up as a who’s-who of great putters on Tour so remember that when constructing your lineups.

 

Weather:

With prevailing winds and normal early-summer temperatures in the forecast, it should be business as usual this week.

 

Facts and Figures:

 

  • Most titles this century, 2: Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and Peter Jacobsen.
  • Last to defend: Mickelson, 2001-02.
  • International winners: Only three since 1996.
  • Lowest winning total: 258; Kenny Perry, 2009.
  • Lowest round: 58; Jim Furyk, 2016
  • Of the last seven winners, four have not played the week before in a major. #TrendNotATrend.
  • Of the last 13 winners, six have needed a playoff to seal the deal. #TrendNotATrend.

 

 

The Field

 

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and tournament only. Rankings vary week-to-week based on event, course, life, etc.

 

Justin Thomas: He’s goes low here. He goes low there. He goes low EVERYWHERE. Leads the Tour in par four scoring and is fresh off his first top 10 (T-9) ever in a major. Finished T-3 here last year with closing 62.

Paul Casey: Lost in a playoff to Watson in 2015 and backed that up with T-17 last year. He’s 24-under in two trips and should also be buoyant after co-leading after 36 last week at Erin Hills. He resides in the top 15 in GIR and par four scoring.

Jordan Spieth: If putting is his current “issue” then I’m not going anywhere. He’ll get healthy this week ramming them in on greens where running them by won’t be an option. He should get plenty of chances as he leads the Tour in SG: ATG. His 69 on Sunday at Erin Hills reinforces he’s not far “off”.

Brandt Snedeker: My biggest question last week was his health and he passed that test with flying colors as he cashed T-9 at Erin Hills. This event usually follows the U.S. Open on the calendar. Snedeker usually plays the U.S. Open well and usually plays this event well evidenced by 63, 64 and 63 (T-24, T-11 and T-10 last year) over the last three.

Rory McIlroy: The good news was he had plenty of time to get ready for this week after MC at Erin Hills unless his twitter war with Steve Elkington wore out his thumbs. If his driver gets recalibrated this week he could runaway with the proceedings. If not, we’ve seen that hitting fairways is hardly paramount to winning here. #BombAndGouge and enjoy the 10.5′ on the greens.

Brendan Steele: He’s played every year here since 2011 and his five weekends have paid nothing worse than T-25. For those of you who read me regularly, thanks, and you won’t find him a surprise in the top 10 this week as his career-year rolls on. His T-13 at Erin Hills adds to that collection. Pro gamers will note that he absolutely eats on TPC courses as well.

Brian Harman: Gave it a look last week and was in the fight until the final nine holes but he would be in here regardless. His runner-up last week at Erin Hills was his fourth top 10 in his last seven events. He’s flying so grab a window seat.

Marc Leishman: I was all over him last week and he ran out of gas on the weekend. I will be all over him this week again because he’s never MC in six tries and adds T-9 and T-11 to his 2012 victory. He’s seventh in scoring average and 10th in SGT.

Jason Day: Form is temporary, class is permanent. Form is temporary, class is permanent.  I can’t hang my hat on his performance at Erin Hills after solo second at TPC Four Seasons and his career-best finish T-15 at Memorial. His second-best finish of the season was T-5 at Pebble, another 6,800-ish course.

Bubba Watson: Pink balls, green balls, white balls have just given gamers blue balls in 2017. He surprised at Memorial where he hasn’t had much success on a wide-open course but didn’t fire at TPC Scottsdale, Riviera or Augusta where he usually eats. He obviously enjoys this layout and he’s usually fresh when he arrives because of his less-than-frequent trips to the weekend at the U.S. Open. Of his 38 rounds 34 are par or better so he’s worth the look.

 

Next Tier

Just missed and should make excellent support staff for deeper games/tickets.

Daniel Berger: He should be in the top 10 above but someone has to drop. He sat on the 54-hole lead here last year but didn’t fire on Sunday with a disappointing 74. Playing for the first time last August he opened 66-67-62 so the learning curve isn’t very steep but the reality of backing a low one with another just doesn’t happen very often. Berger was chirping after defending his title in Memphis that he might not get the love that the others from the Class of 2011 get. Win this week for the second time in three events and you won’t have to worry about that.

Charley Hoffman: He’s played the weekend in his last six trips here and only one is outside of T-27. His 61 in 2013 led to a T-7 after finishing T-2 the year prior. His solo eighth at Erin Hills saw a final round that had four birdies and a triple for 71. He’s played his last seven weekends in a row.

Tony Finau: He checks in the top 30 in too many categories especially his top 10’s in SGOFT and SGTTG. I’m also firing up THE DUFNER RULE this week as well. Dufner was a monster choice at Colonial, MC and then won the next time out. Finau was the “smart guy” favorite at Memorial and MC. Fowler was the angle at Memphis and MC but followed that with T-4 at the U.S. Open. #TrendNotATrend?

Graham DeLaet: His best finish this season was T-6 at a short, tight Harbour Town and most gamers will forget he pegged at top 10 at Memorial last time out. He’s driving it well and making some putts and will be excited to return to a course where he finished third in 2013 and fourth in 2015. #OddYearTrendNotATrend?

Kevin Tway: I’m continuing to ride here as the best run of form in his career has seen T-32 or better in seven of his last eight. During that run he rattled off five T-20 or better including a streak of three top 10’s in a row. He wasn’t qualified for either major, THE PLAYERS or WGC event so he should be mentally fresh.

Adam Hadwin: Did somebody say sub-60? He’s done it once this year, 59, as well but only hard-core gamers will remember it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in February. He has been beaten up on two big courses the last two weeks but he’s been excellent and consistent across the board this year.

Kevin Streelman: I hope I hid him down here far enough but his past champion status probably will lead plenty in this direction. T-18 at Colonial was followed up by T-13 at MVGC so I’m hoping he continues his run of form.

Harris English: He found his feet at Colonial after a dismal April-May for gamers with T-29. He was comfortable as a former champ at Memphis where his T-10 was his first since November. He was four-under after 36 holes at Erin Hills before 75-76 on the weekend wiped him out. This week is another comfortable spot on the schedule as he’s never MC in four tries and has a 64 in each of the last two years (T-7, T-25).

Grayson Murray: I love guys who make cuts. I love guys who have made eight in a row with the last being the best finish in the bunch. His T-18 at FESJC also included his first Sunday round in the 60’s in 2017. #HurdleCleared.

Jim Furyk: Somebody explain to me how he makes the cut at Erin Hills last week and finishes T-23 but DJ, Rors, Day, Rahm, Scott, et. al, go home early? Go on. I’m listening. It was his first weekend in seven so I’m not ignoring his return as “Mr. 58” this week on a course 900 yards shorter.

Jamie Lovemark: He’s rattled off four in a row with the last three T-27 or better and T-10 at Memorial the best of the bunch. He opened 68-63 here in 2014.

David Lingmerth: He’s played the last six weekends he’s entered and four of them are T-21 or better including last week at Erin Hills.

Danny Lee: I’m hoping the masses gave up on him after he couldn’t back his top 10’s from the Dallas-Ft.Worth swing. I’ll point out that he’s defending in a few weeks at Greenbrier as that tournament returns to the schedule this year after the killer floods wiped it out last year. Lee never had a chance to defend his playoff win over Casey and Robert Streb on a TPC course with Bent/Poa greens. I’m not dismissing cuts made at Memorial and FESJC as that takes his run out to four events in a row.

Emiliano Grillo: He MC for the first time since late January at Erin Hills but he hits it too well to be dismissed. He reminds me of last year’s champ as he’ll pound fairways and GIR and will enjoy these greens.

Russell Knox: The defending champ gets love again this week as he returns to the scene from last August that saw him lift title No. 2 of the season. His ball-striking numbers are always the reason and his putting numbers are usually the reason for why not. The tiebreak this week is the trophy from last year.

 

Off the Beaten Path

Long shots, no-names with names, trending, event jockeys and everyone else with a few warts.

Kyle Stanley: You can count the bad ones for 2017 on two fingers. Same for his good ones here in seven tries.

Chad Campbell: He’s posted T-13, T-34 and T-10 in his last three on Tour and each had a round over par. He’s close and I’ll lean on him where less-than-perfect putting is in the recipe.

Nick Taylor: Top 10’s at Pebble Beach and RBC Heritage reinforces that he can handle the short tracks. Canadians grow up on Bent/Poa/Parkland combos and this one has posted four top 22’s in his last seven on Tour.

Ken Duke: A win and another top 10 in his last four attempts here. He closed with 67 to MC in Memphis to post his lowest round since January. They LOVE him at TPC River Highlands.

Keegan Bradley: Homecoming Pt. 1 for the Vermont native. His Pt. II will be Labor Day weekend at TPC Boston. He’s never MC in six tries but he’s also never posted anything lower than T-18.

Dominic Bozzelli: Pumped in T-10 at Memphis his last time out for his fifth payday in six events.

Tyrone Van Aswegen: Sat -12 through 54 holes last year before limping in with 71 for T-5. He’s not MC in his three tries here.

Patrick Rodgers: He’s 22-under over the last three years with T-3 in 2016 his best of the lot.

Ben Crane: Co-54-hole leader in Memphis might be the spark he needs to turn 2017 around.

Mackenzie Hughes: #NappyFactor.

Joel Dahmen: Backed up his T-9 at TPC Four Seasons with T-18 at TPC Southwind. Let’s make it three top TPC finishes in a row.

Carl Pettersson: His last two are top 10’s here. He’s made three cuts in 2017. Course historians will be put to the ultimate test this week.

Wes Bryan: He shouldn’t be on anyone’s radar after 76-83 at Erin Hills but I’m more interested in his closing 65 at Colonial before that. He won the last short course (Harbour Town) event on Tour and is a lights-out putter.

 

Fades:

Bryson DeChambeau: It’s now seven MCs in a row.

Robert Garrigus: He’s left early in six of his last seven events.

 

Next:

 

Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more information.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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