Fresh off of the mentally draining and physically challenging test that is The U.S. Open, the players will welcome a much easier course on the schedule this week in TPC River Highlands for The Travelers Championship.
Following the second Major Championship of the season, The PGA Tour takes us to Cromwell, Connecticut this week for The Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. Sitting on the schedule the week after The U.S. Open, The Travelers has always attracted a decent field and this year is no exception with Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Jason Day highlighting the marquee.
TPC River Highlands and The Travelers have undergone a few name changes and design tweaks over the years but this is a Pete Dye golf course first and foremost. Dye did his work in 1982 to what was then called Edgewood Country Club. It was in 1989 that Bobby Weed was called upon to make some additional design adjustments. The golf course is a Par 70 and measures just shy of 6900 yards. If you recall, it was Jim Furyk who shot a record 58 here last year.
Yes, the players can go very low here this week but it will take some precise iron play, hitting greens in regulation, knocking down a lot of putts, and some good scrambling when missing the smaller sized greens. Neither Driving Distance or Accuracy seem to take precedence here as the golf course is very forgiving off of the tee. TPC River Highlands has consistently ranked as one of the easier courses on Tour – and that is likely a sight for sore eyes with many in the field having just gone through the grueling test of a U.S. Open Championship.
Jordan Spieth (+890 5Dimes) Spieth saved his best for last, shooting a 69 in the final round at Erin Hills despite finishing 35th. This is his first ever time playing The Travelers but he is 2nd on Tour in Birdie Average, number one in Strokes Gained Approaching The Green, and 4th in Par 4 Scoring.
Rory McIlroy (+935 5Dimes) Rory missed the cut at The U.S. Open and this too is his first ever time playing TPC River Highlands. His tee to green game and scrambling ability should be able to carry him a long(er) way this week.
Jason Day (+1600 5Dimes) It is hard to figure out which Jason Day will show up week to week after a couple of excellent performances at The Byron Nelson and at The Memorial followed by a badly missed cut at The U.S. Open. He’s finished 27th and 18th in two trips to The Travelers.
Justin Thomas (+1417 Bookmaker) It was not hard to imagine Thomas coming back down to Earth on Sunday at The U.S. Open after shooting a record 63 at Erin Hills on Saturday.. but his form is obviously very good right now. He took 3rd here last year.
Bubba Watson (+3072 Bookmaker) The long bombing lefty has won The Travelers twice but he hasn’t been so hot so far, this season. A horse for the course, this could be a week in which he finds his comfort zone.
Marc Leishman (+3072 Bookmaker) Leishman won here in 2012 and has been playing very solid as of late. He won The Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this season and in his last four starts, he’s gone 27-15-34-15.
The Long Shots
Charley Hoffman (+3970 Bookmaker) Hoffman finished with a personal best 8th place in The U.S. Open last week and has made the cut at TPC River Highlands in each of his last six visits. He notched Top 10 finishes here in 2012 and 2013.
Tony Finau (+4600 5Dimes) Another long bomber who can make birdies in bunches, Finau has played The Travelers twice, finishing 25th each time. He ranks 6th on Tour in Greens In Regulation.
Webb Simpson (+6000 5Dimes) Simpson has never missed a cut here at TPC River Highlands and landed a Top 10 finish in 2013. His stats for the course are excellent but he’ll need to hole some putts this week if he figures on doing more than just making the cut.
Paul Casey (+2032 Bookmaker) Casey was tied for the lead last week at The U.S. Open after two rounds but made a triple bogey on Saturday that derailed his effort, finishing 26th. I believe that has him focused on bouncing back this week at The Travelers.. a place where he is also looking to avenge a loss in a playoff just two seasons ago. Casey is 5th on Tour in Greens In Regulation, 6th in Par 4 Scoring, 9th in Scrambling, and 3rd in Strokes Gained Approaching The Green. His form is there. I’m betting his 3rd trip to TPC River Highlands is the charm.