Preview: Travelers Championship 2020

69th time at the Travelers

Nice

NO, YOU GROW UP

Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

Cromwell, CT

Yards: (per official scorecard): 6,841
Par: 70; (35-35)
Greens: Bent/Poa; 5,000 square feet on average.
Stimpmeter: 12′ max
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass and fescue at 3.5″.
Bunkers/Water Hazards 69/4
Architect(s): Pete Dye (1982); Bobby Weed (1989); PGATOUR (2015).
Purse: $7.4 million; $1.332 million and 500 FedExCup points (winner).
Defending Champion: Chez Reavie (-17), 263.
Fact of the Week: Plays in the usual spot on the calendar but doesn’t follow the US Open.
Fact of the Week II: The 2016 event was the only one that did NOT follow the US Open since 2007; moved due to Rio Olympics.

 

2019-2020 Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
   
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier *- Joaquin Niemann
Sanderson Farms Championship *- Sebastian Munoz
Safeway Open Cameron Champ
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Kevin Na
Houston Open *-Lanto Griffin
CJ CUP AT NINE BRIDGES Justin Thomas
ZOZO Championship Tiger Woods
WGC-HSBC Champions Rory McIlroy
Bermuda Championship Brendon Todd
Mayakoba Golf Classic Brendon Todd (2)
The RSM Classic *-Tyler Duncan
Hero World Challenge Henrik Stenson
Sentry Tournament of Champions Justin Thomas (2)
Sony Open Cameron Smith
The American Express Andrew Landry
Farmers Insurance Open Marc Leishman
Waste Management Phoenix Open Webb Simpson
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Nick Taylor
The Genesis Invitational Adam Scott
WGC-Mexico Championship Patrick Reed
The Honda Classic *-Sungjae Im
Arnold Palmer Invitational Tyrrell Hatton
THE PLAYERS Championship Abandoned due to COVID-19, no winner
Charles Schwab Challenge Daniel Berger
RBC Heritage Webb Simpson (2)

 

Horses for Courses publishes at PGATOUR.COM Tuesdays. It’s a look who has played well here recently so I suggest reading it as I won’t replicate all of the information here.

 

Recent Event Winners

Year Player Notes
2019 Chez Reavie Set the 54-hole record for margin as he led by six; won by four.
2018 Bubba Watson, -17 Six back of Paul Casey’s 54-hole lead before picking up win No. 3 here.
2017 Jordan Spieth, -12 Defeated Daniel Berger in a playoff by holing out a bunker shot.
2016 Russell Knox, -14 Only third international winner since 1996; first TOUR win.
2015 Bubba Watson, -16 Lost to Casey by two shots in the penultimate group but beat him in a playoff.

 

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 258; Kenny Perry, 2009.
Course Record: 58; Jim Furyk, Round 3 2016; finished T5.
Defending Champion(last): Phil Mickelson, 2001-2002.
Multiple Winners Entered: Mickelson, Watson and Cink.
First-time – TOUR Everyone from 2010-2013
First-time – Event (last time) Spieth
Oldest Winner: Kenny Perry, 48 (2009).
Youngest Winner: Spieth, 23 (2017).
Low Rounds 2019: 63; Abraham Ancer, Jason Day and Chez Reavie.
Odd Fact: Only two players in their 20s have won this decade.
Odd Fact II: Only three wire-to-wire winners since 1982.

 

Quick thoughts:

If Bubba Watson is a 3X champ here then it’s obvious that there is room to swing driver even though it’s just 6,841 yards. Streelman, Leishman, Duke, Knox, Spieth and Reavie are just some of the other names that have lifted the trophy so it’s really one size fits all.

Good News, Bad News:

Another week, another monster field will make handicapping interesting. Of the top 10 players in the OWGR, nine are entered (Adam Scott is not). Cameron Champ tested positive for COVID-19 and is out. So did Graeme McDowell’s caddy so he’ll be replaced as well. Still a field of 156.

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Altitude:

There will be more than a few players this week happy to see Bermuda rough take a few weeks off. Remember, not everyone grows up in the south or enjoys playing or putting on that surface. There will be more than a few players this week who will welcome back having three-plus inches of ROUGH this week as well. There will be a premium of keeping it on the fairway and finding GIR.

So What? So Let’s Dance!

This is the third consecutive event with greens of 5,000 square feet (on average) or smaller. I pointed out above that if Watson has won three times there’s room to swing driver. I’ll also point out that Watson doesn’t win many putting contests but he rarely three-putts as he’s a fantastic lag putter. Bomb and gouge will be on display as driver-wedge will be just as popular as navigating the proper angles from tee-to-green. It’s not a surprise why so many different styles have won here recently.

Heat Check:

Top 15 RBC Heritage
 (entered this week)
01 Webb Simpson
02 Abraham Ancer
05 Sergio Garcia
05 Joaquin Niemann
07 Brooks Koepka -WD
08 Dylan Frittelli
08 Justin Thomas
08 JT Poston
08 Bryson DeChambeau
08 Michael Thompson
08 Ryan Palmer
14 Justin Rose
14 Ian Poulter
14 Matt Fitzpatrick
 

Justin Thomas: T3 in 2016 included 62 to close; Back-to-back top 10s on TOUR suggest he’s dialed in.

Abraham Ancer: Backed up his T14 with solo second last week because he only missed SEVEN GIR. Imagine if he holed a few putts. That travels.

Bryson DeChambeau: “The Kracken” should get some airtime this week as he’ll be free to swing it more than he did on Hilton Head. Five straight in the top 10 while undergoing his transformation is something plus he’s 22-under (T8, T9) the last two years here.

Justin Rose: Comfortable in his own skin, he backed up T3 at Colonial with another strong performance last week T14. 100 years ago he played here and racked up five T19 or better in eight trips. His last visit was T13 in 2013 after he won the US Open at Merion.

Dustin Johnson: Tell him it’s the RBC Canadian Open. Should be excited for a bit of Bent/Poa.

Jon Rahm: Seemed to find his feet as he closed the final 54 holes 67-66-68 at Harbour Town. I’d expect him to turn it up another notch this week.

Matthew Fitzpatrick: If you loved him last week, you should love him again this week. 19 straight WW.

JT Poston: T8-T10 after the restart suggests he’s dialed in.

Joaquin Niemann: T5 last week and T5 on debut here last year. Already torched a TPC for a win this season in West Virginia.

 

Longer Shots (not mentioned in Horses for Courses):

Patrick Rodgers: 5 straight and 34-under here and solid form on TOUR. MC last week posting 3-under!

Brendan Steele: In nine trips he’s cashed in seven. All are T25 or better and 26 or 32 round are par or better.

Jhonattan Vegas: Cruising along with T27 in three of his last four on TOUR and cashed in seven of eight.

Collin Morikawa: Opened 66-67 last year before fading. All he does is make cuts, folks.

Charley Hoffman: Recent form cools me off but he should be included for course horses. T15-T3-T25-T26-T7-T2 in six of his last seven deserves a mention.

Matt NeSmith: Cashed in nine of his last 10; first trip to Travelers.

Ian Poulter: T32 or better in six straight on TOUR and never missed in three tries here.

Joseph Bramlett: Hit the podium (T3, T2) the last two weeks on the Korn Ferry Tour for those of you looking for rank outsiders.

Stewart Cink: Racked up four straight on TOUR and has won twice here. Sure it was over a decade ago but he did close with 62 for T2 last year. Interesting long shot who’s cashed in 13 of 16 tries here.

Wyndham Clark: All four rounds in the 60s last year for T15. Only missed once in his last seven on TOUR.

Corey Conners: T21 and T19 the last two weeks and leads the TOUR in GIR.

Viktor Hovland: Of his last five he’s won and cashed T21 and T23. The last two are most impressive because of the fields gathered. Another chance this week to impress.

Joel Dahmen: Five straight and seven of eight on TOUR but nothing explosive here.

Harry Higgs: 7 straight but nothing inside in the top 25 in the last four. Still hot.

Russell Henley: 2 of 3 in the top 11 here. 2 of 3 in the top 17 on TOUR.

Kevin Tway: 4 straight at the event including T5-T6 the last two years. 5 straight MC on TOUR entering the week will test the patience of the greatest course historians.

Vaughn Taylor: 5 straight here and a career-best solo fourth last year.

 

Caution

Russell Knox: 2016 champ rolls into town on SIX STRAIGHT MC. Contrarian pick at best.

Kevin Na: Returning from pre-tournament WD RBC Heritage.

Scottie Scheffler: See Na, Kevin.

Jim Furyk: Don’t fall in love with that 58 before checking his 2020 form chart.

 

 

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

 

 

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