Steve Bamford Golf Tips

Steve Bamford's Travelers Championship Tips 2020

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Since the PGA Tour resumption, we’ve seen some amazing golf across Colonial and Harbour Town. Exciting finishes with winners Daniel Berger and Webb Simpson delivering at 66/1 and 30/1 respectively for their backers. Congratulations if you were on Simpson, last week who captured his 7th PGA Tour title.

Before we talk through The Travelers, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is sure to be strong, with new readers and those new to golf betting full-stop.  Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) the Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Onto this week and the Travelers Championship has always been a well-supported event on the PGA Tour and has a ‘big tournament’ feel in Cromwell, Connecticut, just 2 hours drive out of Manhattan. 2020 sees a strong field with the betting market headed by Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, plus Justin Rose, Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Marc Leishman.

2020 PGA Tour Resumption Key Bookmaker Promotions

With the eyes of the world watching the PGA Tour last week, bookmakers are keen to offer golf punters real value right now. The Travelers features a stacked field and will offer-up betting entertainment from Thursday onwards, supporting a mid-week schedule of English Premier League fixtures. All in all it’s a superb week to open a new bookmaker account, so here are our picks for you to take advantage of:

William HILL 8 Places Each-Way at the 2020 Travelers with William Hill

William Hill are once again leading the way when it comes to enhanced each-way terms, offering 8 places, 1/5 odds again this week at the Travelers:

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paddy power 8 Places Each-Way at the 2020 Travelers with Paddy Power 

Not to be outdone, Paddy Power are also offering the same each way terms as William Hill. As ever, it’s worth checking the prices on your selections with both bookmakers before placing your bets:

✅ £/€20 risk-free bet offer for new customers using code YSKAEE and this qualifying link
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Course Guide: TPC River Highlands is a stock ‘up-state’ par 70. At 6,841 yards, the course is attackable and gives all styles of play a chance of victory. Defending champion Chez Reavie averaged 279 yards off the tee here in 2019, whilst Bubba Watson has averaged 317 yards across his three victories here. Jordan Spieth, Russell Knox, Kevin Streelman, Ken Duke and Freddie Jacobson plotted and putted their ways to victory.

River Highlands has seen significant changes since the 2015 renewal, with a PGA Tour inspired renovation seeing 50 bunkers removed and the remaining bunkers being upgraded and in many cases moved to create fairway pinch-points. 5 greens on the inward set were also rebuilt to present new hole locations. All in all though, River Highlands is a good, solid, mid-scoring, tree-lined parkland course where making birdies and putting extremely well will be key on Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix greens that aren’t overly taxing. Birdies and minimising mistakes will be the name of the game.

TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut: Designer Robert J. Moss 1928 with Pete Dye (1984), and PGA Tour (2016) renovations; Course Type: Resort; Par: 70; Length: 6,841 yards; Water Hazards: 5; Fairways: Bentgrass with poa annua; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass with Perennial Rye 4″; Greens: 5,000 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass with poa annua; Tournament Stimp: 12ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 69.84 (-0.16), Difficulty Rank 26 of 49 courses. 2013: 70.25 (+0.25), Difficulty Rank 20 of 43 courses. 2014: 69.69 (-0.31), Rank 32 of 48 courses: 2015: 69.38 (-0.62), Rank 29 of 52 courses. 2016: 69.67 (-0.33), Rank of 26 of 50 courses. 2017: 70.20 (+0.20), Rank 21 of 50 courses. 2018: 69.60 (-0.40), Rank 25 of 51 courses. 2019: 69.72 (-0.28), Rank 19 of 49 courses.

Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for TPC River Highlands and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:

  • TPC River Highlands: 250 yards from the tee: 38 yards wide; 275:36; 300:29; 325:29; 350:28.
  • Harbour Town: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:26; 300:22; 325:26; 350:22.
  • Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:27; 325:26; 350:23.
  • TPC Sawgrass: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:32; 300:30; 325:28 350:20.
  • Bay Hill: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:33; 300:33; 325:39 350:29.
  • PGA National: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:27 350:25.
  • Riviera: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26 350:28.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • TPC Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26; 350:24.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:34; 325:37; 350:34.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Pete Dye designs include:

  • Austin Country Club – WGC Dell Matchplay since 2016
  • Crooked Stick – 2012 and 2016 BMW Championship.
  • Harbour Town Golf Links – RBC Heritage
  • Ocean Course – Kiawah Island – 2012 PGA Championship
  • TPC River Highlands – The Travelers
  • TPC Louisiana – Zurich Classic of New Orleans
  • TPC Sawgrass – The Players Championship
  • TPC Stadium, PGA West – The American Express since 2016
  • Whistling Straits – 2010 and 2015 PGA Championship

Course Overview: TPC River Highlands is a traditional north-eastern state parkland golf course that features little water. The short format calls for a greater degree of accuracy off the tee to fairways which aren’t difficult to hit for players who focus on course management. At an average of 5,000 square feet, the green complexes are a typical short Par 70 affair, but the key to the course is that the Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix surfaces run at a receptive speed. River Highlands is a second-shot course where accurate approach play is key. Accurate drivers and plotters tend to prosper, although bombers can contend with Bubba Watson a prime example. But here more than anywhere a red-hot putter will be required to deliver a minimum 20 birdies required for victory.

No course statistics really jump from off the page – River Highlands really is pretty stock across the piece, apart from the fact that scrambling from the rough is particularly difficult (8th, 8th, 8th and 4th hardest last 4 seasons) for those missing greens. This tournament though tends to be won on the par-4s. The course was in the top-10 easiest on the PGA Tour for par-4 birdie or better conversion in 2015, 14th easiest in 2016, 18th easiest in 2017, 21st easiest 2018 and 24th easiest last term, highlighting that the tournament is won or lost on the 48 looks at the par-4s.

travelers championship tips

Below is a breakdown of player par-4 scoring at TPC River Highlands across the last 8 tournaments here. Finishing position in brackets:

  • 2019: Chez Reavie (Winner) -13; Keegan Bradley (2nd) -8; Kevin Kisner (15th), Zach Sucher (2nd) -7.
  • 2018: Bubba Watson (Winner), Paul Casey (2nd) -11; Stewart Cink (2nd) -10; Brian Harman (6th) -9; J.B. Holmes (2nd) -8.
  • 2017: Jordan Spieth (Winner) -11; Boo Weekley (5th) -9; Anirban Lahiri (17th) -8; Daniel Berger (2nd), Paul Casey (5th), Keegan Bradley (8th) -7.
  • 2016: Russell Knox (Winner) -10; Jerry Kelly (2nd) Shawn Stefani (11th) -9; Tyrone Van Aswegen (5th) -8.
  • 2015: Bubba Watson (Winner) -12; Bo Van Pelt (7th) -10; Paul Casey (2nd) -9; Curran (10th), Delaet (4th), Gore (10th), Harman (3rd), Pettersson (5th) -8.
  • 2014: Kevin Streelman (Winner), Brandt Snedeker (11th) -11; K.J. Choi (2nd), Marc Leishman (11th) -9; Aaron Baddeley (4th), Sergio Garcia (2nd), Jhonattan Vegas (31st) -8.
  • 2013: Chris Stroud (2nd) -9; Graham Delaet (3rd), Ken Duke (Winner), Charley Hoffman (7th) -8; Ryan Moore (7th) -7.
  • 2012: Charley Hoffman (2nd) -11; Tim Clark (4th), Matt Kuchar (8th), Bubba Watson (2nd) -10; Brian Davis (4th), Billy Hurley III (47th) -9.

Winners: 2019: Chez Reavie (-17); 2018: Bubba Watson (-17); 2017: Jordan Spieth (-12); 2016: Russell Knox (-14); 2015: Bubba Watson (-16); 2014: Kevin Streelman (-15); 2013: Ken Duke (-12); 2012: Marc Leishman (-14); 2011: Freddie Jacobson (-20); 2010: Bubba Watson (-14).

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Bryson DeChambeau and Paul Casey.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour (where recorded) events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Kyle Stanley; 2) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 3) Jim Furyk; 4) Ryan Armour; 5) Tyler Duncan; 6) Kevin Kisner / Brendon Todd; 8) Ryan Moore; 9) Brian Stuard; 10) Collin Morikawa; 11) Abraham Ancer / Sungjae Im; 13) Austin Cook / Steve Stricker / Vaughn Taylor; 16) Scottie Scheffler; 17) Corey Conners; 18) C.T. Pan / Doc Redman; 20) Lucas Glover / Kevin Streelman.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Patrick Cantlay / Xander Schauffele; 3) Corey Conners / James Hahn; 5) Collin Morikawa; 6) Paul Casey / Bryson DeChambeau; 8) Jason Kokrak; 9) Shane Lowry; 10) Jon Rahm / Harold Varner III; 12) Sepp Straka / Kevin Streelman / Gary Woodland; 15) Sergio Garcia / Sung Kang; 17) Brooks Koepka / Rory McIlroy; 19) Jim Furyk / Ted Potter Jnr.
  • Scrambling: 1) Brendon Todd; 2) Kevin Kisner; 3) Bryson DeChambeau / Scottie Scheffler; 5) Jon Rahm; 6) Shane Lowry; 7) Luke List; 8) Webb Simpson / Richy Werenski; 10) Cameron Tringale; 11) Michael Thompson; 12) Sungjae Im; 13) Abraham Ancer / Dylan Frittelli / Adam Long; 16) Aaron Baddeley / Billy Horschel / Rory McIlroy; 19) Sergio Garcia /  Ian Poulter.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Justin Thomas; 2) Mackenzie Hughes; 3) Rory McIlroy; 4) Joel Dahmen / Ian Poulter; 6) Max Homa / Peter Malnati / Patrick Reed; 9) Branden Grace; 10) Marc Leishman; 11) Bo Hoag / Viktor Hovland / Collin Morikawa / Phil Mickelson / Carlos Ortiz / Brian Stuard / Vaughn Taylor; 18) Zac Blair / Dylan Frittelli / Brian Harman.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 20 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which includes both PGA and European Tour events where recorded. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 20 SG Off The Tee: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Bryson DeChambeau / Jason Kokrak; 4) Dustin Johnson; 5) Collin Morikawa; 6) Sungjae Im / Jon Rahm; 8) Cameron Davis / Rory McIlroy; 10) Sergio Garcia / Bubba Watson; 12) Xander Schauffele; 12) Sam Burns / Joel Dahmen / Viktor Hovland; 15) Abraham Ancer; 16) Corey Conners; 17) Patrick Cantlay; 18) Henrik Norlander / Jhonattan Vegas; 20) Ryan Moore.
  • Top 20 SG Approach: 1) Bryson DeChambeau; 2) Justin Thomas; 3) Joel Dahmen; 4) Patrick Cantlay; 5) Marc Leishman / Gary Woodland; 7) Matthew NeSmith; 8) Collin Morikawa; 9) Rory McIlroy; 10) Bud Cauley / Lucas Glover; 12) Corey Conners; 13) Paul Casey / Cameron Champ; 15) Viktor Hovland / Ian Poulter / Harold Varner III; 18) Webb Simpson; 19) Joaquin Niemann / Xander Schauffele / Scottie Scheffler.
  • Top 20 SG Around The Green: 1) Luke Donald; 2) Byeong Hun An; 3) Aaron Baddeley; 4) Sergio Garcia; 5) Luke List / Patrick Reed; 7) Martin Trainer; 8) Branden Grace; 9) Bo Hoag / Kevin Na; 11) Ian Poulter; 12) Greg Chalmers / Cameron Davis; 14) James Hahn / Chez Reavie; 16) Davis Love III; 17) Brian Harman / Jhonattan Vegas; 19) Justin Thomas; 20) Danny Willett. .
  • Top 20 SG Tee to Green: 1) Bryson DeChambeau; 2) Patrick Cantlay; 3) Sergio Garcia; 4) Scottie Scheffler; 5) Rory McIlroy; 6) Marc Leishman; 7) Joel Dahmen; 8) Collin Morikawa; 9) Xander Schauffele / Justin Thomas / Harold Varner III; 12) Corey Conners / Cameron Davis / Tony Finau; 15) James Hahn; 16) Sungjae Im; 17) Cameron Champ; 18) Webb Simpson; 19) Matthew NeSmith; 20) Lucas Glover.
  • Top 20 SG Putting: 1) Richy Werenski; 2) Denny McCarthy; 3) Ian Poulter; 4) Mackenzie Hughes; 5) Charl Schwartzel; 6) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Patrick Rodgers; 8) James Hahn; 9) Peter Malnati; 10) Jon Rahm / J.T. Poston; 12) Luke Donald / Harry Higgs / Zach Johnson; 15) Beau Hossler / Troy Merritt / Brian Stuard; 18) Dylan Frittelli / Brendon Todd; 20) Robby Shelton.
  • Top 20 SG Total: 1) Bryson DeChambeau; 2) Patrick Cantlay; 3) Joel Dahmen; 4) Ian Poulter / Jon Rahm; 6) Rory McIlroy; 7) Scottie Scheffler; 8) James Hahn / Collin Morikawa / Justin Thomas; 11) Max Homa / Sungjae Im; 13) Marc Leishman / Xander Schauffele; 15) Matthew NeSmith; 16) Sergio Garcia’ 17) Charl Schwartzel; 18) Patrick Rodgers / Webb Simpson; 20) Abraham Ancer.

PGA Tour Resumption Player Strokes Gained Rankings These top 20 in the field rankings are based from the Charles Schwab Challenge forward:

  • Top 20 SG Off The Tee: 1) Bryson DeChambeau; 2) Abraham Ancer; 3) Rory McIlroy; 4) Cameron Champ / Tony Finau / Dustin Johnson; 7) Justin Rose; 8) Jon Rahm; 9) Max Homa; 10) Viktor Hovland; 11) Brooks Koepka / Scottie Scheffler;  13) Bubba Watson; 14) Sungjae Im; 15) Sergio Garcia / Lucas Glover / Matt Jones / Jason Kokrak; 19) Corey Conners /  Scott Harrington.
  • Top 20 SG Approach: 1) Abraham Ancer / Doc Redman; 3) Justin Thomas; 4) Bryson DeChambeau; 5) Joel Dahmen / Michael Thompson; 7) Gary Woodland; 8) Lucas Glover; 9) Marc Leishman; 10) Viktor Hovland; 11) Corey Conners; 12) Joaquin Niemann / Henrik Norlander; 14) Tyler Duncan; 15) Justin Rose; 16) Cameron Champ / Scott Stallings; 18) Matthew NeSmith / Scottie Scheffler; 20) Wesley Bryan / Brian Harman / Bubba Watson.
  • Top 20 SG Around The Green: 1) Luke Donald / J.T. Poston; 3) Chris Stroud; 4) Brian Harman; 5) Sergio Garcia / Si Woo Kim / Charl Schwartzel; 8) Aaron Baddeley / Patrick Reed; 10) Zac Blair / Ian Poulter; 12) Sam Burns; 13) Justin Rose; 14) Justin Thomas; 15) Tony Finau / Branden Grace; 17) Roger Sloan; 18) Dylan Frittelli / Scott Stallings; 20) Michael Kim / Carlos Ortiz.
  • Top 20 SG Tee to Green: 1) Bryson DeChambeau; 2) Abraham Ancer; 3) Justin Rose; 4) Justin Thomas; 5) Sergio Garcia; 6) Viktor Hovland; 7) Corey Conners; 8) Lucas Glover; 9) Cameron Champ; 10) Michael Thompson; 11) Henrik Norlander / J.T. Poston; 13) Rory McIlroy; 14) Tony Finau; 15) Joaquin Niemann; 16) Jon Rahm; 17) Bubba Watson; 18) Joel Dahmen; 19) Brian Harman; 20) Stewart Cink.
  • Top 20 SG Putting: 1) Richy Werenski; 2) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 3) J.T. Poston; 4) Michael Thompson; 5) Keegan Bradley; 6) Brooks Koepka; 7) Branden Grace; 8) Ian Poulter / Patrick Rodgers; 10) Mark Hubbard / Chris Stroud; 12) Cameron Champ / Harry Higgs; 14) Gary Woodland; 15) Denny McCarthy; 16) Brian Harman / Davis Love III; 18) Mackenzie Hughes; 19) Michael Kim; 20) Rafael Cabrera Bello.
  • Top 20 SG Total: 1) Bryson DeChambeau; 2) Abraham Ancer / Michael Thompson; 4) J.T. Poston / Justin Rose / Justin Thomas; 7) Cameron Champ; 8) Joaquin Niemann; 9) Brooks Koepka; 10) Corey Conners; 11) Viktor Hovland / Ian Poulter; 13) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Lucas Glover; 15) Brian Harman; 16) Tony Finau; 17) Chris Stroud; 18) Sergio Garcia / Bubba Watson; 20) Keegan Bradley.

Winners & Prices: 2019: Reavie 70/1; 2018: Watson 33/1; 2017: Spieth 10/1; 2016: Knox 50/1; 2015: Watson 14/1; 2014: Streelman 150/1; 2013: Duke 150/1; 2012: Leishman 125/1; 2011: Jacobson 45/1; 2010: Watson 40/1. Past 6 Renewals Average: 55/1. Overall Average: 69/1. For a full summary of winner’s odds on the PGA Tour since 2010 click here.

Historical Weather:

  • 2019: Thursday: Overcast, with light showers throughout the day. High of 74. Wind S 6-12 mph. Due to wet course conditions, preferred lies in closely-mown areas were in effect for round one. Friday: Rain in the morning and partly cloudy in the afternoon. High of 74. Wind NNW at 10-20 mph. Due to wet course conditions, preferred lies in closely-mown areas were in effect for round two. Saturday: Sunny. High of 82. Wind NW 12-22 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 85. Wind WNW 10-20 mph.
  • 2018: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 85. Wind NNE 6-12 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy. High of 67. Wind SE 4-8 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy with scattered showers. High of 67. Wind NE 6-12 mph. Sunday: Mostly cloudy. High of 81. Wind SW 8-15 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 85. Wind SSW 7-12 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy, with intermittent showers throughout the day. High of 85. Wind SSW 10-20 mph. Saturday: Due to expected morning thunderstorms, tee times were between 10:45 a.m. and 1:05 p.m. Cloudy in the morning, with light rain. Clear and mostly sunny in the afternoon, with a high of 86. Wind NW 8-16 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 84. Wind SW 10-18 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Sunny. High of 82. Wind SSE 6-12 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 85. Wind SSW 10-15 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy with light precipitation. High of 85. Wind WSW 10-15 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 87. Wind WNW at 10-15 mph.
  • 2015: Thursday: Sunny, with an afternoon high of 83. Wind SW at 6-12 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy, with an afternoon high of 85. Wind SW at 6-12 mph. Saturday: Cloudy, with an afternoon high 73. Light, afternoon rain. Wind SE at 8-15 mph. Sunday: Due to expected overnight rain Saturday, officials moved final-round tee times between 11:40 a.m.–1:30 p.m., in threesomes off Nos. 1 and 10 tees. Cloudy, with light rain. High of 74. Wind NNE at 7-12 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Hartford, Connecticut, is here. This week will see a few different weather angles in-play, but ultimately scoring should be strong again. 30mm of rain last week and the significant chance of more rain on tournament Wednesday could well see soft conditions when the players tee off Thursday. A 31 degree Celsius maximum temperature on the opening day will also be guarded against by Director of Golf Course Maintenance, Jeff Reich, who’s sure to water greens in advance. From Friday onwards, temperatures start to fall and light wind will be a feature on Saturday. Nothing substantial, but enough to put a slight lid on scoring. Rain can’t be ruled out on Sunday, where temperatures fall to a northern European 23 degrees Celsius.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 10 winners here at The Travelers since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this:

  • 2019, Chez Reavie (-17). 279 yards (55th), 82.9% fairways (3rd), 75.0% greens in regulation (1st), 31’4″ proximity to hole (2nd), 83.3% scrambling (2nd), 1.69 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2018, Bubba Watson (-17). 312 yards (7th), 51.8% fairways (70th), 77.8% greens in regulation (7th), 33’11” proximity to hole (29th), 56.4% scrambling (44th), 1.64 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2017, Jordan Spieth (-12). 290 yards (52nd), 62.5% fairways (41st), 68.1% greens in regulation (42nd), 31’1″ proximity to hole (35th), 65.2 % scrambling (19th), 1.63 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2016, Russell Knox (-14). 296 yards (24th), 67.9% fairways (30th), 79.2% greens in regulation (5th), proximity to hole 30’6″ (8th), 66.7 % scrambling (19th), 1.68 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2015, Bubba Watson (-16). 319 yards (1st), 53.6% fairways (70th), 69.4% greens in regulation (38th), proximity to hole 38’1″ (59th), 90.9 % scrambling (1st), 1.70 putts per GIR (17th).
  • 2014, Kevin Streelman (-15). 291 yards (48th), 73.2% fairways (17th), 73.6% greens in regulation (10th), proximity to hole 29’5″ (5th), 52.6% scrambling (58th), 1.55 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2013, Ken Duke (-12). 282 yards (57th), 78.6% fairways (10th), 62.5% greens in regulation (62nd), proximity to hole 30’7″ (13th), 77.8% scrambling (3rd), 1.62 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2012, Marc Leishman (-14). 301 yards (12th), 76.8% fairways (15th), 70.8% greens in regulation (28th), proximity to hole 30’1″ (9th), 61.9% scrambling (18th), 1.67 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2011, Freddie Jacobson (-20). 275 yards (46th), 85.7% fairways (9th), 72.2% greens in regulation (34th), proximity to hole 32’0″ (45th), 95.0% scrambling (1st), 1.67 putts per GIR (11th).
  • 2010, Bubba Watson (-14). 321 yards (1st), 66.1% fairways (58th), 70.8% greens in regulation (38th), proximity to hole 31’5″ (25th), 57.1% scrambling (43rd), 1.63 putts per GIR (2nd).

Tournament Skill Averages:

Driving Distance: 30th, Driving Accuracy: 32nd, Greens in Regulation: 27th, Proximity to Hole: 23rd, Scrambling: 21st, Putting Average 7th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2019, Chez Reavie (-17). SG Off the Tee: 10th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 24th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 10th.
  • 2018, Bubba Watson (-17). SG Off the Tee: 4th, SG Approach: 18th, SG Around the Green: 10th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 22nd.
  • 2017, Jordan Spieth (-12). SG Off the Tee: 56th, SG Approach: 7th, SG Around the Green: 2nd, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 30th.
  • 2016, Russell Knox (-14). SG Off the Tee: 16th, SG Approach: 3rd, SG Around the Green: 42nd, SG Tee to Green: 5th, SG Putting: 19th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 22nd, SG Approach: 7th, SG Around the Green: 20th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 20th.

Let’s take a view from players as to how TPC River Highlands sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Chez Reavie (2019): I mean, I hit the ball a little closer on the back than I did on the front, but I hit a lot of great shots on the front, too. I would say the front was a little tougher for me. Some of the holes are real long and playing into the wind today. I was hitting 5-wood. Like at 4 and 5 I hit 5-wood at both of those holes and hit good shots. So I just got some more scorable clubs on the back nine in my hands. I have shot 28 before on nine holes, but not on tour, I don’t believe. I’ve done it at home.

Yeah, the golf course is great. You can shape it both ways off the tee; hit every club in your bag from longer irons to short irons. It’s just a test of all your shots. That’s something I like. I’m a shot maker. I like to work it both ways. Fortunately I don’t have to hit hybrid like I did at Bethpage. I’ve always loved the layout since the first time I came here. Just the way the holes are shaped you can shape shots and think around the greens. It’s a great challenge and something I really enjoy.

Biggest shot for me down the stretch? When I stepped up to 17 tee, which that is the toughest visual shot for me on the golf course because I like to hit a draw. With that water off to the left it kind of doesn’t suit me, so I just tried to aim at the bunkers and let the wind blow it into the fairway. Knocked it on the green and I was very comfortable, and when I made the putt it kind of sealed the deal for me.”

Bubba Watson (2018): “Earlier this year I had won in L.A. for my third win in L.A. Now I just need one more in Augusta and that would be great. Get a different jacket. I like this jacket, don’t get me wrong. I love this. I’ve got a few of them. But, yeah, there are certain places that we’ve built our schedule, everybody builds their schedule around places they’ve seen, loved, the atmosphere, all of that comes into play. Around here there are a lot of driver holes where I can hit some drivers and shape it. There are a lot of guys, a lot of guys that are starting to come. Jordan came last year when he won, and he said, “Bubba, anywhere you play good that’s where I want to play, because I think I can play where you can play.” I don’t know if that was a dig or what, but he backed it up with a win. Yeah, it’s one of those things where it just fits our eye. You can see the fairway. You can see the shape of the holes and the greens are always in great shape, so it’s fun.”

Jordan Spieth (2017): “Yeah, I had no idea until we kind of got on the grounds and I saw Michael (Greller) on Tuesday before we played any holes, and he said, “This course is tailor made for you,” is what he said. I love the back nine. I think it’s a very exciting nine holes of golf, one of the coolest stretches that we play where anything can happen. So that’s good and bad when you’re leading. So again, yeah, I thought it was a really good golf course for us. You kind of manoeuvre the ball both ways. You’ve kind of got to watch out for – you’ve got some clearings where the wind affects it more than other times where you’re kind of in the valleys. But overall, poa annua greens, historically, aren’t my best, and so today was a big confidence boost. The rest of the golf course I really love. You’ve got to work both ball flights. You’ve got to kind of be fearless in playing different shots. You really have to. You can’t get out there and just step and hit just draws the whole day. It forces you to hit different shots. The greens are just tough.

Yeah, you’ve got to stay patient. You can’t force it here. You get so many opportunities, you feel like you’re losing to the field if you don’t birdie with a wedge in your hand. But they put these pins in such difficult locations it’s hard to feed it next to it, once you do, it’s difficult to get the right line on the green. So recognizing that the course is 6800 yards for a reason. It’s tricked out elsewhere. And being very patient on the weekend is key. I always mention that, that’s always the word. I try to tell myself that, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Given here especially, given that we’re going to have a lot of chances, greens in regulations is going to be an important stat.

Russell Knox (2016): “The scores here – I always think this course, if you tee off in the morning, the conditions, you can always shoot a mega low score. That’s what Jim Furyk did last year on Sunday. But as the day goes on, teeing off in the afternoon, especially on a weekend, shooting under par is a great score if you tee off at 1, 2 o’clock. So the course changes significantly as the day goes on, just the firmness of the greens. I think players like that. But every hole, I don’t really feel uncomfortable on. I mean, you don’t have to overpower this course. I remember watching the year before. I think Bubba Watson and Corey Pavin were in a playoff with Scott Verplank maybe too. And I remember thinking what an amazing course this must be that the shortest hitter and longest hitter in the field are in the playoff. So this course, I think, allows everyone in the field to win, and I think that shows what a great course this is.

Paul Casey: “This is a golf course where the green is relatively small, but they’re tucking the pins away and putting them on some funky little slopes. If you short side yourself, especially if you get over these greens, you’re going to be in a world of hurt. I’m a guy that hits a lot of greens in regulation. I’m pretty aggressive when going with the irons into the greens. I try to give myself a lot of birdie looks. To me, as a player, I love playing these kinds of events where you can go low. I think it’s good for the psyche. If all you ever do is play events where level par is winning score, you feel like you get beaten up, and you’ve got to have these, because every now and then you’ve got to go really low. It is fun. You can’t get the wrong side of it. With a golf course like this, it’s not that easy. I think the scores are reflective in the fact that we’ve got perfect conditions and perfect greens. If you get to the wrong side of it, you can make bogeys very easily out there.

Bubba Watson: “First hole is going to be a wedge; second hole, wedge; third hole, wedge. These are the approach shots. And then next hole is going to be…it’ll change, but 8, 9 or wedge; next hole is a 6 iron to a 5 iron; next hole is a 3 iron, going for it in two; next hole is a wedge; next hole is an 8 iron; next hole is a wedge; next hole is a wedge; next hole is a wedge; next hole is a wedge; next hole is going for it in two; next hole is a wedge; next hole is a wedge, or if you drive the green you can putt; next hole is a 9 or an 8; 17 is a 9 or a wedge; and 18 is a wedge. So when you look at that, why would I not want to play here if I’m hitting that many wedges? It doesn’t matter if I’m in the rough or not, those are the clubs I’m hitting. It comes down to me putting; if I can putt halfway decent, I have a chance to top 10 here or scare a victory.

Marc Leishman: “I think it’s a fun golf course. If you’re playing well, you can make a lot of birdies. If you’re not playing well, you can make bogeys. But I think this is a fun golf course because there are birdies out there. If you’re willing to take it on, you can have a low score. But at the same time, if you do take it on, you’re bringing in that big number into it as well. I think that’s a good indication of a good golf course. I think this is one of them.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 10 Travelers winners:

  • 2019 – Chez Reavie: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2018 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 77th, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 6th.
  • 2017 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2016 – Russell Knox: – Round 1: 9th, Round 2: 5th, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2015 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2014 – Kevin Streelman: Round 1: 61st, Round 2: 39th, Round 3: 7th.
  • 2013 – Ken Duke: Round 1: 48th, Round 2: 32nd, Round 3: 6th.
  • 2012 – Marc Leishman: Round 1: 25th, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 20th.
  • 2011 – Freddie Jacobson: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 5th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2010 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 5th, Round 2: 10th, Round 3: 4th.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 10 Travelers winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2019 – Chez Reavie: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 6 ahead.
  • 2018 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 6 back.
  • 2017 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 1 ahead, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2016 – Russell Knox: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2015 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 2 ahead, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2014 – Kevin Streelman: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 8 back, Round 3: 4 back.
  • 2013 – Ken Duke: Round 1: 8 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2012 – Marc Leishman: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 6 back.
  • 2011 – Freddie Jacobson: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2010 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: 6 back.

Incoming form of winners since 2010:

  • Chez Reavie: 3rd US Open/MC Colonial/14th PGA/18th Quail.
  • Bubba Watson: MC US Open/44th Memorial/54th TPC Sawgrass/5th Augusta.
  • Jordan Spieth: 35th US Open/13th Memorial/2nd Colonial/MC TPC4S.
  • Russell Knox: 22nd PGA/30th Open/10th Scottish Open/54th Firestone.
  • Bubba Watson: MC US Open/42nd TPC Sawgrass/29th Shenzhen/38th Augusta.
  • Kevin Streelman: MC US Open/MC St Jude/MC Memorial/MC TPC Sawgrass.
  • Ken Duke: MC St Jude/16th Memorial/31st Colonial/MC TPC4S.
  • Marc Leishman: 58th Memorial/57th Colonial/3rd TPC4S/45th TPC Sawgrass.
  • Freddie Jacobson: 14th US Open/32nd St Jude/27th TPC4S/31st Colonial.
  • Bubba Watson: 33rd Memorial/MC TPC Sawgrass/43rd TPC Louisiana/14th Houston.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2019 – Ancer/Armour/Burgoon/Hughes/K.H. Lee/Sucher – 2AM/4PM  -6/64 – 95/1,150/1,200/1,125/1,125/1 & 250/1.
  • 2018 – Z Johnson/Spieth – AM/PM  Split -7/63 – 55/1 & 33/1.
  • 2017 – Spieth – PM -7/63 – 20/1.
  • 2016 – Kelly/V Taylor – AM/PM Split -6/64.
  • 2015 – Watson – PM -8/62.
  • 2014 – Steele – AM -8/62.
  • 2013 – Hoffman – PM -9/61.
  • 2012 – Mathis – PM -6/64.
  • 2011 – Renner – PM -7/63.
  • 2010 – Goggin/Harrington/Rose/Wi – 3AM/1PM -6/64.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Poa Annua and Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 10 – Dustin Johnson.
  • 6 – Bubba Watson.
  • 5 – Phil Mickelson.
  • 4 – Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Brandt Snedeker.
  • 2 – Bryson DeChambeau, J.J. Henry, Brooks Koepka, Hunter Mahan, Patrick Reed, Brendan Steele, Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland.
  • 1 – Aaron Baddeley, Keegan Bradley, Patrick Cantlay, Greg Chalmers, Cameron Champ, Emiliano Grillo, James Hahn, Billy Horschel, Russell Knox, Nate Lashley, Marc Leishman, Shane Lowry, Hideki Matsuyama, Graeme McDowell, Collin Morikawa, Ted Potter Jnr, Andrew Putnam, Jon Rahm, Chez Reavie, Justin Rose, Scott Stallings, Steve Stricker, Chris Stroud, Vaughn Taylor, Justin Thomas, Kevin Tway.

From a correlating course perspective, there’s undoubtedly a form link between TPC River Highlands and a number of other classical golf courses. The course here features Bentgrass mixed with Poa Annua green complexes, and as we know the latter is a problem for many players. So a look at classical West coast courses which feature Poa Annua isn’t a bad angle in my view, namely Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Riviera Country Club. 2019 champion Chez Reavie won this straight off of finishing 3rd at the Pebble Beach-hosted U.S. Open the week before. He had also finished 2nd at the 2018 AT&T Pro-Am at the classical Pebble and 7th at Riviera Country Club in 2016.

3-time Travelers winner Bubba Watson always performs well on the West coast Poa Annua. 4th (2007), 1st (2011) and 6th (2020) at Torrey Pines is supported by 3 wins (2014, 2018 and 2018) at Riviera. 2017 Travelers winner Jordan Spieth follows the Reavie mould with 4th (2014), 7th (2015), 1st (2017) and 9th (2020) at the AT&T National Pebble tournament. He’s also been a feature at Riviera finishing 12th (2014), 4th (2015) and 9th (2018). 2014 champion here at TPC River Highlands, Kevin Streelman, is a real Pebble Beach specialist chalking up 4 top-9 finishes on the Monterey coast. 9th (2012), 6th (2018), 7th (2019) and 2nd (2020) highlights a player who copes admirably on a short course with Poa Annua greens. And 2012 Travelers champion, Marc Leishman, has finished 2nd (2010), 9th (2011), 2nd (2014), 8th (2018) and 1st (2020) at Torrey Pines, with 5th (2016) and 4th (2019) at Riviera.

The mix of recent winners here is interesting. 3-time winner Bubba Watson blasted his way to victory, but he’s undoubtedly a creative shot-shaper. 2017 winner Jordan Spieth and Marc Leishman are also ball-flight movers who thrive on shorter tree-lined tests. Defending champion Reavie, Knox, Streelman, Duke, Jacobson and Perry were far more accurate from the tee. It’s a crazy mix of short accurate types, and those with a little more length off the tee, especially Bubba!

So what is they key to TPC River Highlands? Well high quality birdie making powered by top-notch Strokes Gained on Approach is the winning formula here in Hartford, Connecticut. All 11 of these Travelers winners sat in the top 17 for Putting Average (or Putts per GIR) across the week with a sub-1.7 Putts per GIR looking an essential target for victory, but that actually translated to a pretty standard Strokes Gained Putting performance. So we aren’t talking whoever holes the highest distance of putts winning this week. However across the last 4 winners all have ranked in the top 18 for Strokes Gained on Approach and in the top 5 for Strokes Gained Tee to Green.

My Final Travelers Championship Tips Are As Follows

Bubba Watson 2pts EW 33/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Bubba Watson at the Travelers is almost an automatic bet. Let’s face it, Bubba comes alive on certain courses and Pete Dye designs have been good to him over the years.

His success here in 2010 was his maiden PGA Tour victory; he then won at TPC Louisiana in 2011, repeated his TPC River Highlands victory in 2015 and a successful 2018 saw him excel at both Austin Country Club where he won the WGC Match Play and here in Connecticut at 33/1. For those counting that’s 5 from 12 PGA Tour victories on Dye tracks and whilst we’re keeping tabs, 6 of Watson’s titles have also been on putting surfaces containing Poa Annua 2011 Torrey Pines, 2014 Riviera, 2015 TPC River Highlands, 2016 Riviera, 2018 Riviera and 2018 TPC River Highlands.

6th in 2008, 2nd in 2012, plus 4th in 2013 on top of his 3 Travelers wins tells you all you need to know about Bubba in these parts and his 67.67 course average score puts him second to only Paul Casey in terms of players who have multiple appearances here at TPC River Highlands. That number is pretty immense when you consider the Orlando, Florida resident has played 48 competitive rounds around this particular Par 70.

2020 has also seen Bubba playing some consistent golf. 6th at Torrey Pines and 3rd at TPC Scottsdale – both very much Bubba tracks – with 7th at Colonial this side of the PGA Tour resumption highlights to me a player who’s reaching his peak. 52nd last week at Harbour Town featured a closing round -5/66 and across my Strokes Gained PGA Tour resumption tracker he sits 13th for Off the Tee, 20th for Approach, 17th Tee to Green, 27th Putting and 18th SG Total. Primed and ready for a big week in my opinion. RESULT: MC

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Justin Rose 2pts EW 28/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

Justin Rose is making a timely return to form and his record in Up-State United States has to be respected this week.

The 10-time PGA Tour winner captured his first title in 2010 at Muirfield Village (Ohio) and has followed that up with victories again in 2010 at Aronimink (Maryland), in 2011 at Cog Hill (Illinois), in 2013 at Merion (Pennsylvania) and finally in 2014 at Congressional (Maryland). Those victories are backed up with 3rd (2003), 4th (2006) and 3rd (2018) in Massachusetts, 6th (2011) and 2nd (2013) in New Jersey, and a further 2nd (2019) in Pennsylvania.

TPC River Highlands in Connecticut is another positive track with 3rd (2005), 9th (2007) and 9th (2010) here, plus 2 further top-20 finishes from 8 appearances. His finishes here in both 2005 and 2010 could have been so much better as well as he was the 36-hole leader on both renewals, having shot a second round -7/63 in 2005 and a Thursday/Friday -6/64 & -8/62 in 2010. Safe to say the World Number 13 plays very nice golf in Hartford and in the North-Eastern United States.

Bringing things up to date from a 2020 perspective, you just have to love the way Rose has been playing in the first 2 weeks of Tour action since the re-start. 3rd on the Bentgrass greens at Colonial saw him end up a missed 18 footer away from a play off with Berger and Morikawa. Last week was steadier, but Justin hadn’t played at Harbour Town for 12 years and I think that the claustrophobic Carolina-type layout on Hilton Head Island isn’t ideal for Rose. A -11/131 weekend score was only beaten by a handful of players and Rose finished 14th. His summary: “The putter was probably the cold part of me. I think I was negative strokes gained putting this week, and to shoot 16 under with that means I did a lot of other things really, really well this week, so that’s encouraging.”

From a Strokes Gained perspective since the PGA Tour resumed, Justin in the field ranks 7th Off the Tee, 15th on Approach, 13th Around the Green, 3rd Tee to Green and 4th for Total Strokes Gained. And to add fuel to the fire his record on West coast Poa Annua really appeals to me this week with 6th (2016) and 3rd (U.S. Open – 2019) at Pebble Beach, 4th (2017), 8th (2018) and 1st (2019) at Torrey Pines, supported by 9th (2011) and 4th (2017) at Riviera Country Club. RESULT: MC

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Abraham Ancer 1.5pts EW 35/1 (8EW 1/5) with William Hill

Abraham Ancer must take real positives from last week’s runner-up finish at Harbour Town. 6 Birdies and 0 Bogeys on Sunday is always going to help your position, and Ancer showed heart and fight as Webb Simpson went crazy on the back nine.

2 Bogeys all week was equal best with Daniel Berger and Ancer ranked 6th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 1st for SG on Approach and 2nd for SG Tee to Green. It was just a shame that Harbour Town features Bermudagrass greens, a surface which I think Ancer struggles with. Bentgrass and Poa Annua seem to be a better match when you look at his results and he has quite a bit of form which correlates nicely with previous winners here. The last seasons have seen the Mexican finish 4th at TPC Potomac (2018), 5th at Glen Abbey (2018), 7th at TPC Boston (2018), 4th at TPC Summerlin (2018), 8th here at TPC River Highlands (2019), 2nd at Liberty National (2019), 4th at Sheshan International (2019)  and 12th at Chapultepec – all predominantly Bentgrass greens with some Poa Annua in spots.

Ancer remarkably is still a PGA Tour maiden so TPC River Highlands could just be the spot for the in-form World Number 24. The Travelers has thrown up plenty of first time winners in recent renewals with Bubba Watson, Freddie Jacobson, Marc Leishman and Ken Duke taking their first Tour title here, and Chez Reavie 12 and a half months ago was hardly prodigious having won only the once previously at the 2007 RBC Canadian Open played at Glen Abbey – essentially a 12 year gap.

Reavie came here direct from Pebble Beach where he had finished 3rd at the U.S. Open – a performance powered by 5th for SG on Approach and 3rd for SG Tee to Green rankings. Ancer last week was 6th for SG Off the Tee, 1st for SG on Approach and 2nd for SG Tee to Green. 15th after 54 holes here in his rookie season of 2016, Abraham fired book-end -6/64 (joint best of the day) and -7/63 (best of the day) rounds to finish 8th here last year. He described River Highlands last year as, “It’s a great test. I think it’s a great golf course. Showcases if you’re playing well.”

He’s undoubtedly playing well and hopefully he can keep the positive momentum flowing. RESULT: T11

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Viktor Hovland 1pt EW 60/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

For the first time now, Viktor Hovland is starting to return to courses as a professional on the PGA Tour. Last June Hovland finished a magnificent 12th at the Pebble Beach-hosted U.S. Open as an amateur then turned professional in the week prior to The Travelers. 54th here on his professional debut was a decent enough return, with rounds of 67/68 highlighting promise that we know the Norwegian has in buckets.

Just over 12 months have passed since his pro debut here, and in that time he finished 13-13-16-4 in the 4 events directly after TPC River Highlands. Then he gained a full PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, and in 2019 finished with 10th at the Greenbrier Classic and 11th at the BMW PGA Championship before an almost inevitable late year loss of form.

2020 has already seen the talented 22 year-old win his first PGA Tour title in Puerto Rico, and now the Norwegian is looking to break into the OWGR top-50. In that quest, Viktor has enrolled Pete Cowan to work on his short game and so far there are seeds of improvement, ranking in the top 30 for Scrambling across both Colonial and Harbour Town. His tee and approach play is already elite-level and that’s made clear statistically in terms of Strokes Gained, as since the PGA Tour resumed he sits 10th Off the Tee, 10th for on Approach, 6th for Tee to Green and 11th for SG Total.

Even a slightly positive week on the Bent Poa Annua mix putting surfaces this week will see Hovland towards the top of the leaderboard in my view. RESULT: T11

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:15BST 22.6.20 but naturally subject to fluctuation.