Travelers Championship – Golfers to Target

Mark Diana
Golf Analyst

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Following an epic U.S. Open where Jon Rahm stormed up the leaderboard on Sunday to earn his first Major victory, the PGA Tour makes its way to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship. TPC River Highlands is a Pete Dye designed course which underwent renovations in 2015. The course is a classic Pete Dye course. The fairways are lined with trees and precision and accuracy is the key to success. At a really basic level, good approach play and a hot putter will be the name of the game this week. 

As a Par 70, TPC River Highlands only features two Par 5s. The course can be overpowered, with bombers such as Dustin Johnson, Chez Reavie, and Bubba Watson have all found success. While bombing is one way to go, shorter accurate hitters such as Russell Knox, Jordan Spieth have also won here in recent years. The course only measures 6,841 yards so every golfer is in play this week. With twelve holes being Par 4s, golfers will need to make birdies in order to keep pace with the field and then score on the limited Par 5s. Most of my handicapping process this week is focused on finding golfers who can get on birdie streaks, especially on Par 4s, and golfers who are consistent ball-strikers who possess strong putting upside. 

Each week, I will highlight golfers from different price tiers to help you build your betting card! The four price tiers I will highlight this week will be the: the top-tier, mid-tier, sleepers, and longshots. Top-tier golfers will consist of golfers who are 30-1 or less. The mid-tier will consist of golfers who are longer than 30-1, but shorter than 60-1. Sleepers will consist of golfers who are longer than 60-1, but shorter than 100-1. Longshots will consist of golfers who are longer than 100-1.

Top-Tier (Under 30-1)

Bryson DeChambeau 12-1

Following his Sunday implosion at the U.S. Open, I am sure Bryson is itching to get back on the links and show he is a winner. DeChambeau has played TPC River Highlands five times, and has recorded three straight Top 10 Finishes. As a short Par 70, the course is vulnerable to being overpowered and Bryson will take his bomb and gauge approach to New England this week. The #5 ranked player in the world has not missed a cut since February, has the elite scoring upside to keep pace at this anticipated birdie-fest.

Patrick Cantlay 16-1

Patrick Cantlay broke out of his mini-slump in a big way with a win at the Memorial Tournament the other week. Cantlay is a great tee-to-green player who is an elite birdie-maker. Dating back to 2015, no one has gained more strokes on Pete Dye courses than Cantlay. Over his last 49 rounds on Pete Dye course, Cantlay has gained 1.85 Total Strokes per round. It is also worth noting that as a 19-year-old, Cantlay shot the then-course record at TPC River Highlands with a round of 60.

Paul Casey 18-1

Paul Casey has been one of the best ball-strikers this season and he continues to rack up high finishes. Casey is absolutely a horse for the course, with four Top 5 finishes in six tries at this course. Casey is coming off of a relatively strong performance at the U.S. Open where a Sunday charge was stymied by a double bogey on the back nine. The 43-year-old Englishman has six Top 5 Finishes in 15 events this season. I would be more inclined to bet Casey Top 10 or Top 5 than I am to bet him outright at these odds. 

Scottie Scheffler 25-1

Scottie Scheffler is going to win soon. He has three Top 10 finishes in his last four starts and continues to find ways to be in the mix on Sundays. Scheffler is great for this style of course because he has both distance and accuracy which allows him to get on the green with a look at birdie. Scheffler is Top 10 in Par 4 Birdies or Better and Birdies or Better Percentage. He has the skills to go on birdie runs and set the pace for the field, but at 25-1 he would likely have to be the top golfer on your betting card.

Mid-Tier (Longer than 30-1, Shorter than 60-1)

Joaquin Niemann 35-1

Niemann is a long hitter who is also a great Greens-in-Regulation player. The 22-year-old has been the model of consistency this season. In twenty events, Niemann has made nineteen cuts and has recorded eleven Top 25 Finishes. He hasn’t found himself in contention frequently, but he isn’t playing himself out of tournaments. Niemann’s biggest weakness is his chipping, which should not come into play too frequently this week. I really like Niemann’s scoring consistency, where he is not making too many bogeys and has plenty of birdie opportunities. 

Brian Harman 45-1

Brian Harman would’ve been in contention last week in the U.S. Open if it weren’t for an ugly triple bogey on Saturday where he missed three putts from inside five feet. Usually, Harman is a great putter where he’s ranked 17th among all PGA golfers this season. The former Georgia Bulldog is also a Pete Dye specialist with most of his best performances coming on Pete Dye tracks. Harman has a very high floor but has not won since 2017, so he might be a better Top 30 or Top 20 bet than an outright bet. 

Kevin Streelman 35-1

Kevin Streelman has a couple of courses that he loves. TPC River Highlands is one of those courses. In thirteen total appearances at this course, Streelman has six Top 15 finishes which includes a win in 2014. Coming into this week, the 42-year-old is riding incredible form. Streelman has five consecutive Top 26 Finishes and is a solid Approach player. Streelman’s propensity for this course while also trending in the right direction makes him an intriguing player this week. 

Sam Burns 50-1

Sam Burns is an insanely volatile golfer who has the upside to finish in the Top 5 or miss the cut by a handful of strokes. Burns plays his best golf at courses where birdies are readily available. At tougher courses that we’ve seen at the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open, Burns struggled. Now that we are back to a birdie-fest, I expect Burns to get right back to business. He is a Top 25 player in both Approach and Putting which should be the recipe for success this week.

Si Woo Kim 55-1

Si Woo Kim on Pete Dye courses is the gift that keeps on giving. Over his last 22 rounds on Pete Dye courses, Kim is gaining 1.89 Total Strokes per round. Kim is a balanced player who does not do anything exceptionally well, but does everything good enough. I love Kim in the Top 30 market and in DFS, but I probably won’t get there with him as an outright bet. 

Sleepers (Longer than 60-1, Shorter than 100-1)

Keegan Bradley 66-1

Keegan Bradley is a tee-to-green machine who is playing some of his best golf in awhile. Bradley is a fairway-finder and a Top 10 Approach player which is a deadly combination that results in a plethora of birdie putts. Bradley’s weakness is his putter. He is an awful putter but if he can get hot enough for four days to putt at field average, he will find himself in contention. Over his last 36 rounds, Bradley ranks: ninth in Tee-to-Green, ninth in strokes gained on Par 4s from 400-450 yards, and 15th in GIRs Gained.  

Emiliano Grillo 70-1

Emiliano Grillo is one of the best ball-strikers on Tour and he does it with strong irons, and living in the fairway. Grillo’s best performances have come at courses that are less than Par 72. On shorter courses where Grillo can hit greens, he contends. He struggles around the green, but with a strong Approach play, and easy enough fairways to hit, he should not have to rely on his chipping. Among all PGA Tour players, Grillo has the lowest scoring average on Par 4s. His ability to avoid bogeys, and capitalize on birdie chances makes him a lock to be on my betting card this week.

Doc Redman 70-1

Doc Redman was a swing season superstar last fall where he racked up Top 10 Finishes. Since then, Redman has been pretty quiet but flashed some form at the AT&T Byron Nelson where he finished T9. Redman once again showed his upside with a runner-up finish at the Palmetto Championship two weeks ago, so it’s safe to say that he might’ve found something in his golf game. Redman’s statistical profile is not too encouraging but he passes the eye test and I like his chances to hang around this week. I don’t love this number, and I’m sure if you shop around you could find something better.

Long Shots (Longer than 100-1)

Russell Knox 100-1

Russell Knox is a former winner at this course and has all of the tools needed to win again at this venue. His strengths are hitting fairways and greens, and playing error-free golf. Among all PGA Tour golfers, Knox is sixth in Greens-in-Regulation percentage. I think this will really be a week where the winner consistently has birdie putts and finds ways to get to the green in two. Knox’s best finish this season was at Pebble Beach, which is a course that I think is a good comp. I will likely have exposure to Knox in DFS and maybe in the Top Finishing market.

Brendan Steele 110-1

Brendan Steele loves this course, and has been relatively consistent this season. In twenty total events, Steele has made sixteen cuts. Steele has played TPC River Highlands ten times in his career, and he has notched eight Top 25 Finishes. Steele’s best finish this season was at the Sony Open which is also a Par 70. With Steele’s cut-making ability, I love his chances of finishing inside the Top 40 or Top 30 this week and might even add him as a longshot on my outright card.

Scott Stallings 175-1

Scott Stallings is a pretty random golfer but he has played well in the past at courses I believe are similar. Stallings has had multiple top 40 finishes at Innisbrook and Pebble Beach which are both courses where strong approach play and playing into the green is the key to a good finish. At these long odds, Stallings will have great odds for a Top 40 finish.

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