The Confidence Factor: Travelers

Jordan Spieth became the first player to go wire-to-wire at TPC River Highlands in his dramatic playoff win last year. It was also his first go-around at the event. #Clues.

As always, my selections will drop around noon-ish tomorrow. Check back for details.

Ed: My picks were added 1:30 Wednesday

Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

Cromwell, CT

 

TPC River Highlands Cheat Sheet

Yards (per official scorecard): 6,841
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Bent/Poa annua; 5,000 sq. ft. on average.
Stimpmeter: 11′
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass, rye; up to three inches.
Bunkers: 69
Water Hazards: 4
Architects: Pete Dye (1982); Bobby Weed (1989); MacDonald & Sons (2016)
Purse: $7 million; $1.26 million, 500 FEC points (winner).
Defending Champion: Jordan Spieth (-12, 268; playoff)
Fact of the Week: Spieth was the first wire-to-wire champion since moving the event to TPC River Highlands in 1991.

 

Notes:

  • 156 players.
  • Top 70 and ties will play the weekend.

 

2017-18 Winners

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
   
Safeway Open Brendan Steele
CIMB Classic Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC Champions Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms Ryan Armour*
Shriners Hospitals for Children Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba Patton Kizzire*
The RSM Classic Austin Cook**
Sentry TOC Dustin Johnson
Sony Open Patton Kizzire (2)
CB Challenge Jon Rahm
Farmers Insurance Open Jason Day
WMPO Gary Woodland
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Ted Potter, Jr.
Genesis Open Bubba Watson
Honda Classic Justin Thomas
WGC-Mexico Championship Phil Mickelson
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
Arnold Palmer Invitational Rory McIlroy
WGC-Match Play Bubba Watson (2)
Corales Puntacana Resorts Brice Garnett*
Houston Open Ian Poulter
Masters Patrick Reed
RBC Heritage Satoshi Kodaira*
Valero Texas Open Andrew Landry*
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy
Wells Fargo Championship Jason Day (2)
THE PLAYERS Championship Webb Simpson
AT&T Byron Nelson Aaron Wise**
Fort Worth Invitational Justin Rose (2)
Memorial Bryson DeChambeau
FESJC Dustin Johnson (2)
U.S. Open Brooks Koepka

 

The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM and contains plenty of angles on the track and those who have aced this exam.

You need course form? Read the above.

You need keys to victory? Read the above.

You need course preview? Read the above.

You need a history lesson? Read the above.

Every week.

Every column.

Previous champions last 10 years

*- playoff

Year Winner Total
2017 Jordan Spieth* -12
2016 Russell Knox -14
2015 Bubba Watson (2)* -16
2014 Kevin Streelman -15
2013 Ken Duke* -12
2012 Marc Leishman -14
2011 Fredrik Jacobson -20
2010 Bubba Watson* -14
2009 Kenny Perry -22
2008 Stewart Cink (2) -18

 

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 258; Perry
Course Record: 58; Jim Furyk (2016)
Defending Champion(s): Phil Mickelson (2001-02)
Multiple Winners: Only players entered listed above
First TOUR Win (most recent): Watson, Jacobson, Leishman and Duke; 17 in history.
First Win in First Appearance: Spieth (first since 1985).
Low Round Last Year: 63, Spieth and Anirban Lahiri.
Rookies of Note Last Year: C.T. Pan, T8, Xander Schauffele, T14, T17 Mackenzie Hughes, T17 Rick Lamb.
Odd Facts: Only three international winners since 1996; Of the last eight winners, four did NOT play the week before; Of the last 14 events, seven have needed playoffs; Only Kenny Perry has won by more than one shot in the last decade.

 

Quick Thoughts

One of the major thoughts this week is fatigue from last week’s major. Guys who made the cut were beaten up over the weekend. Guys who missed the cut had plenty of time to sight see in NYC before heading up I95.

I believe that MC in a major championship is irrelevant. The field, the course, the preparation, the mindset are all completely different from a regular TOUR event. Most of these guys make cuts for fun and missing early gives them two days off they never plan on having.

Every guy is wired differently so don’t throw them all into one group either. Patrick Reed told somebody he’s MAD about this week and is going to take it out on TPC River Highlands. Brooks Koepka is talented enough to show up, show out and win again though I believe that’s highly unlikely.

These independent contractors make their own schedules so they absolutely plan on playing these events back-to-back. Since there is barely any travel this week, it’s hardly a surprise this event has very solid field.

 

 

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and this tournament; LTO= LAST TIME OUT; LW= Last week; LY= Last year this event. I’m tired of typing all that out!

Patrick Reed: He plays a million times a year and feeds off the action so don’t worry about his workload. He’s not thrilled with how he finished on Sunday at Shinnecock but I am. His 71-68 on an impossible weekend is proof that he’s tuned sharp and ready for action. He’s 18-under here the last two years and that’s with a round of 70 and 72 included. He’s cashed for T11 in ’16 and T5 last year and should have another massive crowd in his corner this week.

Webb Simpson: He’s the hottest player in the field this week for my money as he’s T21 or better in five of his last six since Augusta. His romp in THE PLAYERS was followed by MC at Colonial but he bounced back nicely with T10 at Shinnecock Hills. His T10 was his first since winning at Olympic Club but the part I was most encouraged about is he opened with 76 and battled back. He played the final three rounds one-over par. He’s never MC in eight tries.

Daniel Berger: Gamers that are still stinging from the letdown at FESJC will get their chance at redemption this week. I argued that winning three in a row was a bit silly, and to be fair, his form wasn’t encouraging heading into that week in Memphis. He’s obviously turned it around after going home early as evidenced by his weekend at Shinnecock Hills. Similar to Memphis, he’s played this event twice, hit the top five both times and is 23-under-par with a round of 74 included! All arrows point up this week.

Justin Thomas: Any course, any week and any time he’s available he should be in your lineup. As you read in The Confidence Factor above he shines three of the four categories. He closed with 62 in 2016 for T3 but MC last year. Remember he posted 63 on Saturday at Erin Hills and didn’t fire on Sunday, slipping well back. Could that be a cause of concern for Berger this week as well? Same situation almost, looking for his first major, one of the last groups out…

Paul Casey: The knock on Casey is he doesn’t win enough tournaments but gamers who are stuck on that are a bit silly. The first time he played here he knocked the cover off the ball and lost to Bubba Watson in a playoff. He’s backed that up with T17 in ’16 and T5 last year. Since his win his worst finish is T17 outside of one MC, his first in 294080380928 events, at Harbour Town.

Bryson DeChambeau: What’s the catch? There isn’t one. He’s on tilt as half of his last eight starts have gone for WIN, 2nd, T3 and 4th.

Rory McIlroy: Last year on Sunday he posted 64 but sadly for gamers that just moved him to T17. Last year this event saw Spieth break out of a funk as his victory led to another one at The Open Championship. McIlroy was second at Wentworth and T8 at Memorial before MC (80-70) at Shinnecock Hills. EVERY gamer would like to see a reaction this week after MC especially since we won’t see him again (TOUR stuff) until Carnoustie.

Jordan Spieth: Class is permanent; form is temporary. Class is permanent; form is temporary. Class is permanent; form is temporary. He wasn’t playing well on arrival last year and his first visit he went wire-to-wire. His last six events have been dire and I’d be surprised if the streak hit seven.

Ryan Moore: Oh, hey, look who didn’t have to deal with Shinnecock in any way, shape or form! Moore’s record here is scintillating (9/10) with seven going for top-25 paydays. His form is also great with six of his last seven on TOUR going for T30 or better. Moore has a wonderful habit of showing up at events he has played well in the past. He’ll be fresh as well.

Brendan Steele: It’s always hard to back a guy who’s posted 81 and 80 in his final rounds at his last two tournaments but I’m not scared. Steele’s record here is mint as six of his seven weekends have gone for top-25 paychecks. Of his 26 rounds, 21 are in red figures.

Bubba Watson: His recent form doesn’t concern me because he rarely plays well at the events that lead up to this week. I always look at Watson when there is a reason to play. This is his spiritual home and site of his first win when his dad was dying. He MC last year for the first time in 10 years so I’m expecting a “normal” return of service. Of his last nine finishes, six were inside the top 14.

Xander Schauffele: Since I’m jumping on this week he’ll take the week off but I’m going in just in case! His T2 at THE PLAYERS was followed by MC-MC but he added ANOTHER top-six U.S. Open paycheck (2-2) last week. Maybe this track isn’t hard enough…He’s 24 and hasn’t played two full years on TOUR.

Charley Hoffman: The renovations here haven’t bothered him much as he backed up his T25 with T3 last year and has made seven straight here. He was lurking at Shinnecock as he played in the final group on Saturday with Johnson before 77-74 weekend knocked him to T20. In his last five visits to CT he’s taken home three top-10 finishes.

Marc Leishman: He’s blown wonderfully hot-and-cold this spring but I’ll lean on the course where he picked up his first TOUR win.  He’s never MC in seven tries but his stroke average (68.25) isn’t as low as Hoffman’s (68.10).

Keegan Bradley: I’m probably jumping the gun here a bit but I don’t think another top 10 is out of the question. The greens here won’t give him as many problems as the ones at Memorial or Shinnecock did and he’ll hit just about all of them.

Brooks Koepka: I believe only two things are going to happen this week with him: He contends early and burns out late or he never fires to begin with. I don’t think after that test last week that there will be anything left in the tank come Sunday. How could there be? He’s in prime physical shape and this course shouldn’t drain him but staying locked in on every shot ain’t happening!

 

Next Tier

Just missed the list above because of a wart or two; order isn’t important.

Russell Knox: He’s been heating up with the weather with four paydays in a row including T12 at Shinnecock. His ball-striking accuracy is the key here but, similarly to Bradley, his putter is the difference between good and great.

Emiliano Grillo: His streak of cuts made on his own ball crashed out at Shinnecock. There’s no shame in that and he probably enjoyed those unexpected days off. #Recharged.

Patrick Rodgers: He played really well at Memorial (T8) and Shinnecock minus his Saturday 83. He’s a summer player that should be ready to fire on a course he has shown flashes on before. His 63 in 2015 was followed by T3 in 2016 and hasn’t MC in his last four tries here.

Chez Reavie: He’s played the last three weekends here and his last six in a row since 2009. Safety dance.

Beau Hossler: Streak is nine in a row but nothing tasty since P2 to Poults in Houston. He opened with 66 here last year but it’s the final two rounds that have been the issue. I’d love to have him in a weekly game where I could just set it and forget it!

Kyle Stanley: His worst finishes this season have come on the most difficult courses. This week doesn’t qualify. He’ll defend next week at TPC Avenel Farm where he won on seven-under. Make sense?

C.T. Pan: Five in a row with all trending results. He doesn’t hit far so this makes perfect sense that he’s taken home T8 and T25 in his two starts here.

Russell Henley: He was 12-under through three rounds in 2016 but sank with Berger in the final group on Sunday.

Kevin Streelman: A wonderful all-or-nothingness about him here. For the risk taker in you!

Brian Harman: Phil twice, Bubba twice…He’s only MC once here once in seven tries but only has one top 10.

Luke List: He’s gone ice cold but I’ll point out that the big hitter was T3  at Harbour Town with a final round 72. Taking the driver out of his hands for a week might be what the doctor ordered.

 

Long Shots, Course Horses, Etc.

Patrick Cantlay: He shot 60 here as an amateur in 2011 but has cooled recently. Remember, he only played a total of 13 events last year. He’s already racked up 15 heading into this week.

Corey Conners: He’s cashed four straight and navigated Colonial for T8.

Jim Furyk: 58 and didn’t win.

Troy Merritt: Nice run at TPC Southwind and hit the top 10 here last year. Shhh.

Anybody From U. Illinois: They all seem to be ready for the next level. You have two choices this week in Meyer and Hardy. They’ll be in play at JDC.

J.B. Holmes: Scalding form (T42, T13 and third) meets zero love at TPC River Highlands. Dude shot 62 here in 2012 and cashed T37. You pick.

J.J. Henry: He went to school at TCU but is from the area. His T5 in 2013 has been followed with two MC’s and a pair of T60 or worse.

Anirban Lahiri: Had two rounds OVER PAR but his 63 and 67 saw him cash T17 LY.

Danny Lee: T3 last year followed T25 in 2016 but turned ice cold after the Dallas-Ft. Worth (read: home games) stretch.

Rory Sabbatini: He hasn’t MC in 2018.

Brett Stegmaier: Local opened with 64 last year before cashing T27.

 

Fades:

The road to success is filled with potholes. You don’t drive your car over them so why put them on your fantasy team?

Jason Day: I should have learned my lesson at Memorial so I’m not making this mistake twice.

Brandt Snedeker: His course form suggests a return to the top 25. Again, I’m not sold yet as the only breakout result was based on one very nice round of 62 at Memphis. I’ll circle back at Glen Abbey.

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

 

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