There won’t be any fans at TPC River Highlands for the 2020 Travelers Championship, but there seem to be more golf fans around the betting world than ever. The sport is rising in popularity for a lot of different reasons, not the least of which the fact that it has given all of us something to bet on while the major pro and collegiate leagues try to navigate the treacherous COVID waters.
Lots of bettors are finding their way to the Golf section of their sportsbooks to attempt to pick winners, play matchups and groups, and wager on whatever they can. It doesn’t hurt to have golfers mic’d up so that we can find out that they’re just like us! See? Just like us!
Author’s note: The article has NOT been edited to include the players that have WD. The article has remained as is from when it was posted on Monday afternoon.
Anyway, the field is really good this week, as has been the case for the first two events back. There are a lot of really good players that have played in this event a lot or at least sporadically, but a lot of top players are on hand this week. Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Brooks Kopeka, Dustin Johnson, and Webb Simpson make up the under +2000 crowd. Patrick Cantlay makes his return right at +2000. Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed, Collin Morikawa, Bubba Watson, and Abrahm Ancer range from +2500 to +3000.
Watson is a three-time winner here. A guy like Brian Harman at +6000 might make some sense here, as it would appear that kind of left-handed shot shape plays well at TPC River Highlands. There are lots of notables in the field, including Paul Casey at +3300, who often plays well here with five top-20 finishes in a row and four in the top five, and Sergio Garcia, who doesn’t play here often, but was runner-up in 2014. Jordan Spieth is a past winner here. This is a solid field. Odds for all of the players in the field are posted at the bottom of the article.
TPC at River Highlands is a short par 70 around 6,850 yards. This is a Pete Dye re-design that has been a tour stop 36 times in the past. This course requires a calculated approach. There aren’t a ton of hazards until you get to holes 15-18, but there are some narrow landing areas and some in-between second and third shots with the shortened distance.
The winning score the last two years has been 17-under, so there are some low numbers out there. Given the 22-under last week at Hilton Head to set an all-time tournament record, it does seem as though PGA Tour officials have put some training wheels on the players with some fairer pin placements and less penal blades of grass in the rough. We’ll see if that changes this week.
While golf is drawing more nationwide attention for a sports-crazed society, it will be a huge bummer to not see fans here. This event generally ranks second behind the Waste Management Phoenix Open in attendance.
Yay or Neigh?
This is the heading for the horse for course discussion. Some bettors and fantasy players believe course form is irrelevant. Others disagree. So, we’ll present the info and let you decide.
As mentioned, Bubba Watson is a three-time winner here. He has also finished fourth, second, and sixth dating back to 2008. Jordan Spieth won in 2017, but finished 42nd and then MC the next two years. Kevin Streelman is +12500 this week and had a win here in 2014. He also has three other top-10 finishes dating back to 2008. Chez Reavie is the reigning champ at +10000. Marc Leishman (+5000), Russell Knox (+17500), and Stewart Cink (+20000) are also past winners in the field.
Casey has the aforementioned four top-five finishes here at +3300. Bryson DeChambeau is listed among the favorites and has finished in the top 10 each of the last two years. Charley Hoffman carded top-10 finishes in 2012-13 and 2017 and he is +15000. Ryan Moore had four top-10 finishes from 2009-14 and finished 15th here last year and 17th in 2016. He’s +12500 this week.
Last year’s top 10 in strokes gained per DataGolf were Reavie, Keegan Bradley, Zack Sucher, Vaughn Taylor, Casey, Kevin Tway, Joaquin Niemann, Harman, Jason Day, Roberto Diaz, Ancer, DeChambeau. Guys like Tommy Fleetwood and Patrick Cantlay were just after some of those guys. It was the putting for Bradley and Tway that put them high on the list.
In 2018, the list was Bubba Watson, Cink, Casey, JB Holmes, Beau Hossler, Harman, Tway, Russell Henley, Anirban Lahiri, Chase Seiffert, and DeChambeau.
Per DataGolf the top 10 in Course History Index (CH Index), which is adjusted for field strength, is Casey, Watson, Moore, Day, DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Tommy Gainey, Freddie Jacobsen, Hoffman, and Leishman.
It is a shame that Daniel Berger is taking this week off, since he finished tied for third in strokes gained last week at the RBC. His price would have been pretty low anyway, but he has been outstanding since the return.
One popular pick this week will be Sergio Garcia. He was -0.77 SG: Putting last week, but finished in the top five in SG overall. He didn’t make enough putts and still finished tied for fifth at 19-under. The 35/1 price is certainly good enough to take a stab this week.
The price is not very good on Bryson DeChambeau at 14/1, but keep an eye on him throughout the tournament to see if you can get him a few shots off the lead. He’s been T-3 and T-8 in strokes gained in the last two events and plays extremely well at this course.
This course has not been kind to JT Poston with three MCs, but he’s finished eighth and 10th the last two weeks. Last week, he finished 17-under and only struggled on approach. Because Harbour Town values approach shots more than that average course, he finished a little lower than he maybe could have elsewhere. Poston ranks in the top 10 for the season in SG: Putting. He is at +6600 this week.
Viktor Hovland finished just outside the top 20 last week because he putted poorly and had some issues scrambling. His play off the tee was excellent and his full body of work was strong. This week, where SG: Off-The-Tee matters a lot more than it did last week, Hovland at 45/1 looks attractive. He was eighth in SG: OTT per DataGolf last week. He was third in this event last year in SG: OTT, but putted poorly and struggled around the green. If his approach shots are better this time around, he should be fine.
Casey, Watson, Garcia, and Harman are on the card this week. Watson for his course history and a shot shape that clearly helps here. Same thing with Harman. Bubba also played really well two weeks ago at the Charles Schwab. Last week’s course was a bad fit for him. Harman has been top-30 the last two weeks.
Casey, like Cantlay, is coming off of the shelf, so there is some major risk involved, but Casey and Cantlay have both played well here. Casey is just the better price at +3300.
Garcia did everything except make putts last week. He hasn’t played here in a while, but he’s been top-25 in his last two starts. Garcia led the field in SG: T2G last week.
These aren’t awe-inspiring prices at 33, 28, 35, and 60, but the quality of these fields means that it is a lot tougher to hit those big long shots.
Let’s throw out a couple long shot bombs anyway. Brandt Snedeker is +14000 this week. Sneds has three top-15 finishes here. He got to shake off the rust last week at the RBC and seemed to have a lot of it to shake off. He struggled off the tee here last year, but played well on approach and around the green.
Matthew NeSmith will be the other one at 200/1. NeSmith is just outside the top 35 in driving accuracy for the season. The South Carolina grad has also putted well and sits 40th in SG: Total for the season per the PGA Tour stats. Last week, NeSmith was bad on the greens, which is rare for him. He’s never played here before, but plays in the fairway and gets to the green in regulation.
Coverage of the Travelers Championship will be on Golf Channel and PGA Tour Live on Thursday and Friday and CBS will have the mid-afternoon coverage on Saturday and Sunday.
Odds for the Travelers Championship as of June 22, 4 p.m. ET:
|Byeong Hun An||+12500|
|Harold Varner III||+17500|
|Si Woo Kim||+30000|
|Ted Potter, Jr.||+50000|
|Bo Van Pelt||+100000|
|Davis Love III||+100000|