The PGA Tour heads to a regular stop this week when the Travelers Championship takes place at TPC River Highlands, a popular track for many on the circuit despite the focus beginning to turn towards Europe and the lead up to The Open.
Dustin Johnson won this tournament in the midst of the pandemic last year and he is back to attempt to defend his title but there are a number of potential winners teeing it up all looking to deny him that honour.
2020 – Dustin Johnson
2019 – Chez Reavie
2018 – Bubba Watson
2017 – Jordan Spieth
2016 – Russell Knox
2015 – Bubba Watson
2014 – Kevin Streelman
2013 – Ken Duke
2012 – Marc Leishman
2011 – Freddie Jacobson
It is TPC River Highlands that is staging the tournament again this week. You know what you are going to get from River Highlands. It is a par 70 which only measures 6,841 yards so it isn’t long. You can use length to your advantage here as there are a couple of drivable holes but in the main this is a second shot golf course and it is the iron play that is most important here.
The rough remains relatively significant this week at four inches but the players who are most likely to be in it are going to be a long way down there so I don’t think that will hamper them in any way. Accuracy is still going to be key around here but the emphasis is very much on iron play. A hot putter is never a bad thing either it has to be said. The forecast suggests there might be some wind around over the weekend which will make things even more interesting.
Sometimes the field the week after a major isn’t the strongest but that isn’t the case this week and even though the bigger events in Europe are on the horizon there is still a very strong set of players teeing it up this week, headed by the defending champion Dustin Johnson. Former winners in the field this week include Bubba Watson, Kevin Streelman, Stewart Cink and Chez Reavie, all of whom will be looking forward to returning to a place where they have positive memories.
Other players who are sure to catch plenty of attention this week are Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Paul Casey and Scottie Scheffler while the likes of Abraham Ancer, Joaquin Niemann, Si Woo Kim and Cameron Smith head up the international challenge. The Palmetto winner Garrick Higgo goes in search of a second regular PGA Tour win in succession while the new Italian sensation Guido Migliozzi also gets his first regular PGA Tour start.
Bryson DeChambeau is a joint 14/1 favourite with Dustin Johnson this week. It will be interesting to see how the Bryson grip it and rip it style goes around here. He has been in the top 10 in the last three years which would suggest that he copes fine but the way he melted in the heat of battle last week suggests he is searching for something with his game. I’m not a defending champion backer so DJ is of no interest to me but in truth he isn’t playing well enough for me to consider him at 14/1 in a pretty decent field anyway.
The Memorial winner Patrick Cantlay comes next in the betting at 16/1. I wouldn’t write him off but I was a bit disappointed with his effort with my money on him last week and I’m a bit reluctant to back him in this company after that. Although he won The Memorial we should remember he was playing for second place until what happened with Jon Rahm so although I’m not taking his win away from him, it has to have an asterisk next to it. He isn’t for me.
Paul Casey is next in the market at 18/1. He has top 10s in his last three starts worldwide and four top fives in six goes around here so I can understand why he is this price. He doesn’t win enough in this company for my liking though and while we might get a place out of him, with the terms on offer this week we really need to get the win to get any significant sort of return. I respect Casey and wouldn’t want to oppose him in the side markets but I can do without him in the outright ones.
Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka complete those under 25/1 in this market. They are both 22/1 shots this week. I’m not convinced Reed is right on top of his game at the minute although to be fair to him he keeps on getting decent results. He is in the Casey bracket for me though without the course form. I’m never one for getting involved with Koepka in a regular PGA Tour event. He openly admits he can’t get up for them and as good as he is I don’t want anyone who isn’t motivated carrying my money for the week.
I’ll go with a couple of main bets here with the first of those on a man who won his first PGA Tour title on this track when he birdied the last seven holes to take the title. Kevin Streelman was the runner up to Dustin Johnson last year as well so he clearly has a liking for River Highlands and arrives here off the back of four successive top 20 finishes, two of which were in majors on courses probably too long for him. This one isn’t though and over the last couple of months he ranks ninth in both strokes gained tee to green and on approach so his long game is in very good order indeed. You don’t achieve the finishes he has recently without putting well so that part of his game is going nicely and on a track he loves I think he’ll go very well again here.
I don’t normally like to take players who have just contended in major championships but Russell Henley has just enough upside to his price to tempt me in. He ranked 13 in strokes gained from tee to green last week and third in strokes gained on approach and that in particular is a big statistic this week. We know Henley is one of the best putters going when he is on song and I’m hoping he took a lot of confidence away from Torrey Pines overall even though it went wrong on the final day. He was in with some huge talent in that final round and it wasn’t like he let it get completely away from him like some others did. I’ll pay to see if the backup to last week is another positive week.
There are four outsiders that I like this week. They begin with another who is creaming it from tee to green in Aaron Wise. Wise finished in the top 10 at Quail Hollow and Muirfield Village where his long game was in fantastic order and in between he was in the top 20 at Kiawah Island in the USPGA Championship so he is in excellent form right now. The only thing that was denying him the chance to really contend in a tournament was his putter but that seems to be cooperating now too. He was also the 36 hole leader at The Honda Classic so he plays tough courses well. This isn’t the toughest course on the circuit but it tests all parts of a game. I fancy Wise might be up to that challenge.
Carlos Ortiz is another who is flushing it at the minute and if the forecast for wind at the weekend is right we know he can handle himself in those conditions. Ortiz ranked first in strokes gained on approach at The Memorial and it is that statistic which makes me like him here. It isn’t as though he is terrible off the tee either. He can be a bit sporadic with the putter which is a bit of an issue but his long game looks in the sort of working order that can see him be competitive and at an each way price I’ll pay to see how he gets on.
Chez Reavie hadn’t been having much of a time of it with six missed cuts in a row from The Players Championship right through to the USPGA Championship but in the last two tournaments he has played he has been registering the numbers which get me excited about his chances this week. At the Palmetto he was 7 for strokes gained tee to green and 11 in that discipline last week on a course far too long for him. In those events he ranked 14-10 on approach. Those are the sorts of long game numbers he was producing at his best and given that he won on this very track two years ago and it fits him like a glove, this might be the week that improvement in his long game gets him back to winning ways.
Stewart Cink hasn’t delivered the recent numbers that suggest he is going to win here but the last time he was on a Pete Dye design outside of the PGA Championship, he was a very comfortable winner of The Heritage. That ween he ranked first in strokes gained from tee to green, second on approach, fifth around the greens and 25 in putting. That tells us he likes Pete Dye tracks and if we needed that confirming then he has twice won around here in the past. He was also second here in 2018 when his game wasn’t anything like as good as it is this season. Even at Kiawah Cink was in the top 20 on approach but the length of that track went against him. He was in the top 20 for putting that week so he clearly enjoys these Dye designed greens. I’m not convinced he’s done with winning yet so I’ll pay to see if he completes a hat trick of River Highlands wins here.
Back K.Streelman to win Travelers Championship (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back S.Cink to win Travelers Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back them here:
Back R.Henley to win Travelers Championship (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with Coral (1/5 1-8)
Back A.Wise to win Travelers Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 71.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-8)
Back him here:
Back C.Ortiz to win Travelers Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-8)
Back C.Reavie to win Travelers Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-8)
Back them here: