- After an eventful U.S. Open, the PGA Tour stays in the Northeast for the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn.
After a controversy-ridden week at the U.S. Open, the PGA Tour could really use an event that has cultivated a great all-around vibe. The Travelers Championship, which has emerged as one of the Tour's best tournaments in terms of player and fan experience, could not come at a better time.
TPC River Highlands plays host to an awesome field this week despite falling the week after the most grueling golf tournament in the world. That's a testament to just how much the players enjoy coming to Cromwell, Conn., a suburb of Hartford. It also doesn't hurt that the U.S. Open happened to be on Long Island this year, meaning the trip from Southampton to Cromwell was a manageable one.
The guy who won that Open—and last year's Open—Brooks Koepka, is in the field this week. So are four other members of the world's top 10. Nine of the top 20 are teeing it up this week. Should be a fun one, which is pretty rare for a tournament coming right after a major. It does, however, have quite the shoes to fill, because last year's finish was the best of the entire season. Remember? Jordan Spieth holed out from the bunker to beat Daniel Berger in a playoff. The place went wild. So did Spieth.
Here's everything you need to know about this year's tournament.
The golf course
TPC River Highlands, a 6,800ish yard par-70 track is basically the antithesis of Shinnecock. It's parkland rather than links-style. It's treelined. There is no fescue in sight. There is rough around the greens rather than shaved areas. There are water hazards. It's the type of course you see on a regular basis on Tour—green, perfectly manicured, etc.
It's also not nearly the test Shinnecock was. Over the past five years, the average winning score has been roughly 14-under. In 2016, Jim Furyk shot the lowest round in PGA Tour history by carding a 58. In 2011, then-amateur and the current fastest player on tour (wink-wink) Patrick Cantlay shot 60. Low scores will be out there, and you're not going to hear anyone saying the course is "gone" or "lost" like you heard last week at Shinny. So if you were turned off by players' complaints, this is the week for you.
The Travelers field has steadily improved in recent years, thanks in part to the tournament's move from August to June. In August 2016, the tournament was played against the Olympic Games—as a general rule, you want to avoid being an opposite-field event in any capacity.
Defending champ Jordan Spieth is in the field this week, as is his buddy Justin Thomas. Brooks Koepka, who is sure to be tired from a week of media attention and partying, is staying true to his commitment and will compete. Rory McIlroy will stay on the Northeast for the fourth week in a row (he arrived at Shinnecock two weeks before the U.S. Open...only to shoot 80 in the first round and miss the cut). Another guy who missed the cut at Shinnecock, Jason Day, is looking for a bounce-back week. Masters champion Patrick Reed will be there, as will Players champion Webb Simpson. Two-time Travelers champ Bubba Watson, who picked up his first PGA Tour victory at this tournament in 2010, will play.
Other notables in the field: Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Paul Casey, Marc Leishman, Daniel Berger and Dylan Meyer (recent Illinois grad who took T-20 at Shinnecock).
A full list of tee times can be found here, but here are a few notable groupings:
Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger: 7:50 a.m* Thursday/12:50 p.m. Friday
Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson: 8:00 a.m.*/1:00 p.m.
Marc Leishman, Jordan Spieth, Russell Knox: 12:50 p.m./7:50 a.m*
Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas: 1:00 p.m./8:00 a.m.*
* denotes 10th-tee start.
2017- Jordan Spieth
2016- Russell Knox
2015- Bubba Watson
2014- Kevin Streelman
2013- Ken Duke
2012- Marc Leishman
2011- Fredrik Jacobson
2010- Bubba Watson
2009- Kenny Perry
2008- Stewart Cink
2007- Hunter Mahan
Justin Thomas +1200
Rory McIlroy +1200 - Course would seem to fit McIlroy's game, though he hasn't ever played the event
Jordan Spieth +1400 - Form and putting have been as poor as they've been since he emerged as a force on Tour
Brooks Koepka +1600 - Doubt his preparation was up to his standards this week, and rightfully so
Patrick Reed +1600
Jason Day +1600
Paul Casey +2000
Webb Simpson +2000 - Really quiet T-10 last week
Marc Leishman +2500
Bryson DeChambeau +2500
Bubba Watson +2800 - Good odds for two-time champion at this event
Daniel Berger +2800
Ryan Moore +2800
Patrick Cantlay +2800
Xander Schauffele +3500 - Keeps racking up top-10s in chase to make Ryder Cup team
Charley Hoffman +4000
Russell Knox +4000
Emiliano Grillo +4000 - Vegas loves this guy
Brian Harman +4000
Billy Horschel +5000
Okay, I have to take this opportunity to brag a little: I absolutely nailed the U.S. Open. See for yourself:
Let's ride this momentum. I'm going with Bubba this week. His last three starts have not gone as planned—MC at Shinnecock, T-44 at the Memorial, T-57 at the Players. But Bubba's game often clicks with little warning signs. His three starts prior to his win at Riviera? MC, T-40, T-35. Bubba's got a rich history at this course and always gives it 100% because he won his first event there. Bubba becomes the first player to win three events in this PGA Tour season.