Travelers Championship, TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut
The PGA Tour moves to Cromwell, Connecticut for the Travellers Championship this week. The tournament will be hosted at the TPC River Highlands, a 6800+ yard Par 70 which was designed by Pete Dye in 1982. This course will be a huge relief for the players that have just witnessed the carnage at Shinnecock Hills.
Unlike last week at the U.S. Open, the fairways are going to be easy to hit, the greens much easier to hit, and they will also be much slower in speed. This is not to say that this course is very easy because it does have some challenges, however, it is definitely near the tour average when it comes to difficulty.
The course is also one of the shortest on tour so bombers don’t necessarily have an advantage. Players will have to be aggressive with their scoring and look to avoid mistakes to stay in contention for the win.
Jordan Spieth is the defending champion, Russel Knox won it in 2016, Bubba Watson won in 2015, Kevin Streelman won in 2014, and Ken Duke won in 2013.
The field for this tournament is surprisingly strong considering it is the week right after a major. A lot of the top players like Spieth, McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, and Patrick Reed will be in attendance.
It is difficult to see who is in form and who is not after the U.S. Open but clearly, some of the top players had a worse time than the others. Maybe missing the cut and having some extra time ahead of the Travellers Championship does them good.
To win this tournament, players will need to have an excellent wedge game. A short course where hitting the fairways is easy is all about the second shot. Ensuring that you get on the green in regulation and then putt well is where this tournament will be won.
Stats That Matter
For this week, the Wolf is going to be looking at the following stats:
- Strokes Gained: Approach to the Green
- Par 4 Scoring
- Bogey Avoidance
The average winning total over the last 10 years is -16 and that gives an idea of what the players need to do to win. Making birdies and taking advantage of the driveable Par 4’s is going to be the key. When the scoring is so high, any needless mistakes that push you down the leaderboard can be fatal and so bogey avoidance is going to be very important as well.
Jordan Spieth was 52nd for Driving Distance, 41st for Driving Accuracy, 42nd for Greens in Regulation, and 3rd for Putts per Greens in Regulation when he won.
The Wolf’s favorite to win the Travellers Championship is Justin Thomas at 13.00. Thomas was one of the few top ranked players that made the cut at the U.S. Open Championship last week. A T25 finish is nothing to write home about normally but Thomas can be proud of a good display on a brutally hard course.
The Wolf has a feeling that Thomas will take this opportunity to really show why he is considered by many to be the best golfer around and really dominate this course. Thomas already has two wins this season and finished T8 at the Memorial a couple of weeks ago. He is also very well versed with this course having finished 3rd here in 2016.
Justin Thomas is 2nd for Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, 5th for Par 4 Scoring, and 17th for Bogey Avoidance.
The Wolf’s value pick this week is Aussie Marc Leishman at $26.00. There are some courses that seem to bring the best out in players and the TPC River Highlands is certainly one where Leishman tends to do very well. Leishman won the tournament in 2012, finished 11th in 2014, 9th in 2016, and was 17th last year.
This year has also been good for Leishman who is playing some of his best golf ever. Leishman is 59th for Strokes Gained: Approach to the Green, 17th for Par 4 Scoring, and 51st for Bogey Avoidance. The Wolf believes that Leishman could be with a shout of winning this tournament come the weekend.
For the long shot, the Wolf likes Ryan Moore at $31.00. The Wolf believes that getting the player of the calibre of Moore at this price, especially considering the stellar form he has been in is very rare. Moore finished T13 at the Memorial, was T7 at the Valero Texas Open, and has been steadily coming closer to pulling off a win.
He is also the kind of player that can score heavily when he gets on a run. This course should suit him perfectly. Moore also has an exceptional record at this tournament. He has four Top-5 finishes including being runner-up twice.
The stats also back his claim up with him being 8th in Strokes Gained: Approach to the Green, 11th in Par 4 Scoring, and 9th in Bogey Avoidance. Well worth a punt.
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