Whom you should bet on and roster for this week's Travelers Championship.
After a week of grinding out pars and scrambling out of thick rough at the U.S. Open, the PGA Tour heads back east this week for some much more welcoming conditions at the Travelers Championship.
Consistently voted one of players favorites stops on tour, the Travelers will once again host a star-studded field despite directly following perhaps the most grueling golf tournament in the world
The field of 156 will feature nine of the top 20 players in the world as well as a quartet of some of the best recently turned professionals—former world No. 1 amateur Viktor Hovland, who finished T12 at the U.S. Open, along with college former college standouts Collin Morikawa (Cal), Justin Suh (USC) and Matt Wolff (Oklahoma State) have all received exemptions into the event.
Bubba Watson returns to Cromwell, Conn. in search of his fourth Travelers title. He won for a third time at TPC River Highlands last year, closing with a seven-under 63 to overtake 54-hole leader Paul Casey and win by three strokes.
Fresh off another impressive major championship and a second-place finish at the U.S. Open, world No. 1 Brooks Koepka will tee it up this week. Koepka has two top 20s in three starts at the Travelers, finishing T19 a year ago.
The 2017 Travelers champion, Jordan Spieth, also returns. Also teeing it up Justin Thomas, who will make his fourth start since returning from a wrist injury. JT has sandwiched a T20 (RBC Canadian Open) in between two missed cuts (Memorial, U.S. Open) since returning to competition.
TPC River Highlands is traditionally a birdie fest, with scores daily dipping into the low 60s and even the 50s, as we saw in 2016 with Jim Furyk firing a 58. The golf course is one of the shortest on tour and features wide landing areas off the tee.
Nuts and bolts
Course: TPC River Highlands (6,840 yards, Par 70)
Defending champion: Bubba Watson (-17, 263)
Weather: Temperatures in the low to mid 70’s. Chance of showers Thursday and Friday.
Jordan Spieth (16/1, $11,400)
Ranked 29th in the world rankings, Spieth continues to be on the cusp of a breakthrough. After a decent start at the U.S. Open he faded over the weekend, eventually finishing T65. Ultimately his driving accuracy and shaky iron played led to over-par rounds. This week, that will change as he returns to the scene of one of his most famous triumphs, where he holed out of a bunker to win a playoff over Daniel Berger in 2017. Wider fairways will lead to easier approach shots. The rest will take care of itself as Spieth currently ranks seventh on tour in strokes gained putting.
Louis Oosthuizen (33/1, $10,400)
The South African returns to Connecticut for the first time since 2016, when he finished T17, and does so in fine form. Louis is coming off a T7 at the U.S. Open where he played himself into contention before a crippling double bogey on 10 on Sunday. He led the Open field in strokes gained putting and currently ranks 25th in Birdies from 125-150 yards. Hot putter = birdies.
Chez Reavie (50/1, $9,900)
Reavie’s solid play is simply becoming impossible to ignore. After a T3 finish at Pebble Beach, Chez now has four top 10s on the season and has top 20s in four of his last five starts. He’s also made the cut in six of his eight Travelers starts, which includes a T11 back in 2012. Statistically, he ranks 24th in strokes gained approach, 36th in strokes gained tee to green and 32nd in birdies from 125-150 yards.
Charley Hoffman (70/1, $9,700)
Rested after not qualifying for the U.S. Open, Hoffman returns to Connecticut where he’s missed the cut just once in nine tries and has racked up five top 25s, as well as three top 10ss. Prior to missing the cut at the Memorial, Hoffman finished T13 at Colonial, including a 63 on Saturday, which shows he has no problem going low when the course and conditions allow. He currently ranks 28th on tour in strokes gained approach and 28th in birdies from 125 to 150 yards.
Collin Morikawa (100/1, $8,700)
The next generation has arrived on the PGA Tour. Morikawa is one of four high profile young guns to get sponsor’s exemptions into the Travelers. The Cal Berkley product recently turned pro prior to the RBC Canadian Open where he promptly finished T14, cashing his first six-figure check on Tour. He followed that up by finishing T35 at the U.S. Open, capped off by a final round 69 on Sunday at Pebble Beach. Already mature beyond his years after spending four years at Cal, a top 10 this week is a very real possibility for a kid who says he can win right now on Tour.
Brandt Snedeker (45/1, $10,000)
A hot pick a week ago at the U.S. Open, Sneds’ game went south in a hurry at Pebble. Snedeker surrounded a second-round 69 with rounds of 75, 74, and 77. He hit just 44% of greens in regulation and made 20 bogeys and a pair of doubles at the Open. He also missed the cut a year ago at the Traveler, and though he can easily work his way around TPC River Highlands, there have been just too many bogeys for him to keep up with the birdie barrage this week.