Event: The Travelers Championship
When: June 22-25, 2017
Where: TPC River Highlands Cromwell, CT
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by: Evergreen of Predictem.com
The emotional energy of the PGA Tour can run a little low this time of year as most players are reeling a bit from the grind of the U.S. Open. This season might be a bit different however with Erin Hills playing as one of the more friendly Open venues in history. That is not to say that there werent some hurt feelings from last week as several of the top players failed to make the weekend. Guys like Rory McIlroy and Jason Day left Wisconsin earlier than anticipated but they get a chance to redeem themselves at this weeks Travelers Championship. Jordan Spieth joins Day and McIlroy as featured favorites at TPC River Highlands with Russell Knox looking to defend his 2016 crown. The Travelers has a reputation for helping players breakthrough as six of the last eleven champions earned their first PGA win at this stop. This event also tends to be a close fought affair with each of the last seven tournaments decided in a playoff or by a one-stroke margin in regulation.
TPC River Highlands does not share much in common with the sights you saw at Erin Hills. The 6,840 yard, par-70 layout is diminutive compared to the U.S. Open venue but the scores might range in the same area with 14-under par a very common winning total over recent years. This Greater Hartford area gem has the ability to give up very low numbers with Jim Furyk most famously carding a Tour record 58 during the final round last year. This course does have the appearance that it accommodates the bombers with Bubba Watson winning here twice since 2010 and several other long hitters having good career records. The shorter players can get it done as well with Furyks miracle round being the best evidence of that. There isnt a ton of over-the-top difficulty at River Highlands so it really does come down to shot execution. The guys that come in playing well will likely see another good check come Sunday and the guys that are kicking it around a bit will probably struggle to make a push. The course is fair and pays off for those who can make the shots and putts when it counts.
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Reed has played a ton this season and is due to tee it up for his 20th event but the results have just not been there for the man who was amazing in leading the American Ryder Cup squad just last fall. If you are playing that much and not getting it done, it usually means you are far from turning it around but Reed has a very nice trip around Erin Hills and that place could have taken his lunch money if he were really off. I think Pat is close and his turnaround will be immediate given his talent when it all does click. He was T11 here last year and is good enough off the tee to get himself set up well, even though his iron game has been lacking for the most part so far. The putter has been his saving grace with a top-20 total putting rank and that alone can keep him in the hunt with just a modest increase in tee-to-green performance. I dont think this will be a lost season for him and a win this week will be a nice jump start to the summer and the FedEx Playoffs.
Hoffman is a journeyman to be quite honest but there is no shortage of big time talent when he is right and he displayed that last week in a solo eighth place finish at the U.S. Open. Hoffman was one of the more consistent players through the week, carding an under par total on all four days and never really getting into trouble the way most everyone else did at some point. He has made seven consecutive cuts entering this week and has missed just one weekend in his last twelve starts with three top-10s over that stretch and a T45 as his worst finish. Hoffman has finished T7, T24 and T25 in his last three Travelers so I like him to make the weekend here again and his strong driving stats should have him in the top third of the field. Charley isnt a top-notch statistical putter but he is good enough on the greens to be top-60 in GIR putting and is ranked 8th in total birdies on the season so he can score and do so in streaks. I think he can absolutely win in these medium strength field stops and he should contend if he simply brings his game from last week to River Highlands.
You really need a strong stat category to lean on when picking a longshot but Lingmerth has top-end putting stats and he could turn in a big payday if he can put his way around this course. David is 4th in overall putting average, 5th in one-putt percentage and 8th in GIR putting percentage for what amounts to one of the strongest overall putting profiles on Tour and most likely the strongest in this field. Lingmerth is coming off a three week stretch with T12, T15 and T21 finishes and has done so against very strong fields with the Open and Memorial included in there. This field isnt quite to that level which should push those results even higher should he put in another strong effort. The approach game is average at best for David but he does have good proximity numbers so he does hit it close a fair amount. That helps the scoring average and is a week-to-week key for winners on Tour.
Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds. Check with your 5Dimes Sportsbook for the best array of single round matches and a the best variety of prop bets.
Both players had about the same kind of week at the Open so recent results have them pretty even and they are also very even on most of the stat sheet. I think the big qualifier for this match is the fact that Simpson has the better scoring average on the year despite being Johnson being a bit better statistically on the greens. It points to Zach being a little more mistake prone than he has been through much of his career while Simpson has the 12th rated scrambling rate and that has helped him net those better scores with similar tee-to-green and driving metrics. Webb has a nice edge in greens hit to this point also, a factor I think firmly swings this match in his favor.
There is no doubt that as a two-time champ, Bubba has an affinity for this course. Im going with
Leishman this week however and that is based on Bubbas recent inability to get his scoring average down. Watson enters the week as the 5th best driver on Tour but his greens hit percentage is way down and his putting average has ballooned outside to the top-150. He is 114th in birdie average and has struggled to limit the damage overall with his scoring average at 184th to begin the week. Those marks are surprisingly poor for such a tremendous driver of the ball. Watsons GIR% is most troubling considering he should have short irons in after those monster drives. Leishman is a long hitter in his own regard and has the edge in greens, putting, scrambling and scoring right now. Stay away from Bubba until he sorts some things out and gets back to his top form.
Good luck and good golf!