Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Travelers Championship Tips 2022

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Congratulations if you were on-board Matt Fitzpatrick at Monday odds of 25/1 (bet365) to win the U.S. Open. He certainly gets on with Brookline!  Matt became the first player since Danny Willett in 2016 to win a Major Championship as his first PGA Tour victory. I landed  runner-up Will Zalatoris at 30/1 with a full each-way return – it was good to have a player in the Major mix on a Sunday night.

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. 2022 sees a strong field with Sam Burns, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler and Justin Thomas all committed.

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number of putts

Before we go into the detail surrounding the Travelers Championship, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,100 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: TPC River Highlands is a stock ‘Up-State’ par 70. At 6,852 yards, the course is attackable and gives all styles of play a chance of victory. Chez Reavie averaged 279 yards off the tee here in 2019, whilst Bubba Watson has averaged 317 yards off the tee across his three victories here. Jordan Spieth, Russell Knox, Kevin Streelman, Ken Duke and Freddie Jacobson plotted and putted their ways to victory, as did Dustin Johnson and Harris English over the past 2 years, using hybrids off many tees.

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 Poa Annua/Bentgrass 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: 6,852 yards; Holes with Water In-Play: 4; Fairways: Bentgrass with Poa Annua; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass with Fescue 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: 6 9.72 (-0.28), Rank 19 of 49 courses. 2020: 68.63 (-1.37), Rank 32 of 41 courses. 2021: 69.74 (-0.26), Rank 22 of 51 courses.

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.
  • Muirfield Village: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:28; 325:24; 350:27.
  • Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:27; 325:26; 350:23.
  • Champions Course – Southern Hills: Average 40 yards wide.
  • TPC Potomac: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:30; 300:27; 325:23; 350:27.
  • Harbour Town: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:26; 300:22; 325:26; 350:22.
  • Oaks Course: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:34; 300:29; 325:27; 350:26.
  • Copperhead: 250 yards from the tee: 24 yards wide; 275:20; 300:21; 325:23 350:19.
  • 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.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • 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.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 59 yards wide; 275:61; 300:65; 325:60; 350:62.

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 + 2021 PGA Championship
  • 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 Poa Annua/Bentgrass 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 Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson prime examples. But here more than anywhere a red-hot putter will be required to deliver circa 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 (top 10 hardest pretty much every year) for those missing greens. This tournament though tends to be won on the par-4s, with the victor always towards the top of the scoring charts across the 48 looks at the par-4s.

Below is a breakdown of player par-4 scoring at TPC River Highlands across the last 10 tournaments here. Finishing position in brackets:

  • 2021: Kramer Hickok (2nd) -11; Hank Lebioda (5th) -10; Marc Leishman (3rd) -9; Guido Migliozzi (13th), Patrick Reed (25th) -8, Harris English (1st) -7.
  • 2020: Dustin Johnson (Winner) -14; Mackenzie Hughes (3rd), Kevin Na (5th) -13; Bryson DeChambeau (6th) -12.
  • 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), Jason 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.

travelers championship tips

Travelers Championship Winners: 2021: Harris English (-13); 2020: Dustin Johnson (-19); 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).

OWGR of Winners: 2021: English 19; 2020: D Johnson 6; 2019: Reavie 48; 2018: Watson 20.

Cut Line: 2021: -2; 2020: -4; 2019: -2; 2018: -2.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2021: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -9; Round 3 -10; Round 4 -13.
  • 2020: Round 1 -10; Round 2 -13; Round 3 -18; Round 4 -19.
  • 2019: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -11; Round 3 -16; Round 4 -17.
  • 2018: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -16; Round 4 -17.

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 | SG 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 Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Keegan Bradley, Joaquin Niemann, Patrick Cantlay and Sam Burns.

Travelers Championship Winning Prices: 2021: English 45/1; 2020: D Johnson 30/1; 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 8 Renewals Average: 50/1  Overall Average: 64/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2021: Thursday: Due to fog, the start to the first round was delayed 15 minutes and began at 7 a.m. Mostly sunny with a high of 79. Wind SW 10-15 mph. Friday: Light showers in the morning. Mostly cloudy with a high of 77. Wind SSE 6-14 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy with occasional showers. High of 81. Wind SSW 15-20 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a high of 87. Wind SW 10-15, gusting to 25 mph.
  • 2020: Thursday: Mostly sunny with a high of 87. Wind SW 8-16 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy with a high of 88. Wind W 6-12 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 83. Occasional showers. Wind SSW 6-12 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a high of 86. Wind SW 5-10 mph. Due to a dangerous weather situation, the final round was
  • suspended from 5:17 p.m. until 6:15 p.m.
  • 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.

It looks like we may well get a tournament this week with little wind – something that has been rare in recent times. So with nothing more than 10mph forecast, the only true defence mechanism for TPC River Highlands would be releasing greens. They can be quite spicy here (check out the Sunday for Reavie’s win here in 2019), but there’s +50% chance of rain on Wednesday and Thursday which could well soften. Temperatures jump to +30 degrees Celsius over the weekend, so I can see a high-teens winning score.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Mexico Open / Catalunya Championship which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events. Players’ rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Joaquin Niemann; 3) Jason Kokrak; 4) Keegan Bradley; 5) Brendan Steele; 6) Jordan Spieth; 7) Justin Thomas; 8) Patrick Cantlay; 9) Paul Barjon / Cameron Champ / Austin Smotherman; 12) Sungjae Im; 13) Anirban Lahiri / Luke List; 15) Emiliano Grillo; 16) Stewart Cink / Scottie Scheffler; 18) Tony Finau; 19) Lucas Glover; 20) Mito Pereira; 21) Charles Howell III / Nate Lashley; 23) Hayden Buckley; 24) Brandon Wu; 25) Ryan Palmer.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Brendan Steele; 3) Rory McIlroy; 4) Xander Schauffele; 5) Chris Gotterup; 6) Mito Pereira; 7) Davis Riley; 8) C.T. Pan; 9) Harold Varner III; 10) Aaron Wise; 11) Jordan Spieth / Matt Wallace; 13) Cam Davis; 14) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Alex Smalley / Justin Thomas; 17) Keegan Bradley / Garrick Higgo / Chez Reavie; 20) K.H. Lee / Brendon Todd; 22) Tony Finau / Charles Howell III / Webb Simpson; 25) Sam Burns / Tommy Fleetwood /   Brian Harman / Sam Ryder.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Rory Sabbatini; 2) Jason Day; 3) Tony Finau; 4) Michael Gligic; 5) Xander Schauffele; 6) Chris Gotterup; 7) Sungjae Im; 8) John Huh; 9) Anirban Lahiri / Jordan Spieth; 11) Henrik Norlander; 12) Stephan Jaeger; 13) Harold Varner III; 14) Si Woo Kim; 15) Andrew Putnam; 16) Denny McCarthy; 17) Wyndham Clark; 18) Brice Garnett / Justin Thomas / Aaron Wise; 21) Chez Reavie; 22) Bill Haas; 23) Hank Lebioda / Brendon Todd; 25) Rickie Fowler / Tom Hoge.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Xander Schauffele; 3) Scottie Scheffler / Jordan Spieth; 5) Davis Riley / Aaron Wise; 7) Brendan Steele; 8) Tony Finau / Joaquin Niemann / Mito Pereira / Justin Thomas; 12) Harold Varner III; 13) Tommy Fleetwood / Sungjae Im; 15) Charles Howell III / Anirban Lahiri; 17) Keegan Bradley; 18) K.H. Lee; 19) Scott Piercy; 20) Luke List / Alex Smalley; 22) Emiliano Grillo; 23) Sam Burns; 24) Chez Reavie / Webb Simpson.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Denny McCarthy; 2) J.J. Henry; 3) Sam Burns; 4) Nick Hardy / Brooks Koepka; 6) Rory McIlroy; 7) Marc Leishman; 8) Davis Riley / Richy Werenski; 10) Beau Hossler; 11) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 12) Seamus Power / Brendon Todd; 14) Bill Haas / Maverick McNealy; 16) Jason Day; 17) Keith Mitchell; 18) Mackenzie Hughes / Hank Lebioda; 20) Justin Lower; 21) Cam Davis / Justin Thomas; 23) Keegan Bradley; 24) C.T. Pan / David Skinns / Cameron Tringale.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Davis Riley; 3) Xander Schauffele; 4) Mito Pereira; 5) Jordan Spieth; 6) Denny McCarthy / Aaron Wise; 8) Sam Burns / Scottie Scheffler; 10) Keegan Bradley / Justin Thomas; 12) Tony Finau / Nick Hardy / Sungjae Im / Joaquin Niemann; 16) Seamus Power / Brendan Steele; 18) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 19) Brian Harman; 20) K.H. Lee; 21) Jason Day / Anirban Lahiri; 23) C.T. Pan / Harold Varner III; 25) Tommy Fleetwood / David Lipsky / Adam Long / Rory Sabbatini / Brendon Todd.

For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at TPC River Highlands since 2016 click here.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the winners of the Travelers Championship back to 2012 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this classical test:

  • 2021, Harris English (-13). 297 yards (31st), 75.0% fairways (11th), 75.0% greens in regulation (15th), 34’8″ proximity to hole (25th), 77.8 % scrambling (2nd), 1.69 putts per GIR (11th).
  • 2020, Dustin Johnson (-19). 303 yards (27th), 62.5% fairways (47th), 77.8% greens in regulation (10th), 27’8″ proximity to hole (3rd), 62.5 % scrambling (33rd), 1.63 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 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).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 31st, Driving Accuracy: 31st, Greens in Regulation: 22nd, Proximity to Hole: 19th, Scrambling: 18th, Putting Average 7th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2021, Harris English (-13). SG Off the Tee: 9th, SG Approach: 32nd, SG Around the Green: 8th, SG Tee to Green: 3rd, SG Putting: 18th.
  • 2020, Dustin Johnson (-19). SG Off the Tee: 46th, SG Approach: 6th, SG Around the Green: 25th, SG Tee to Green: 6th, SG Putting: 4th.
  • 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: 24th, SG Approach: 11th, SG Around the Green: 19th, SG Tee to Green: 3rd, SG Putting: 17th.

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

Harris English (2021): “I’ve played here a lot over the years, so I feel like I know where the pins are going to be. Kind of played this course in my mind. Coming out here I know where to hit all the shots. It’s just about focusing and pulling it off.

I love the U.S. Open setup. I love when it’s difficult like that. I can use a lot of that on days like today where it’s tough, it’s windy, you’ve got to grind out there. I feel like I’m a really good grinder on the golf course. I never really get out of it. Had some really great up-and-downs today, made some great seven- or eight-foot par saves. It just shows the validation, all the work you put in, the work I put in back at Sea Island, and putting myself in those positions. I love being in that spot. I love being in the hunt of a golf tournament, and to come down the stretch and actually pull it off is an unbelievable feeling.”

Dustin Johnson (2020): “Well, to me I thought the wind, well, yesterday morning they didn’t have any breeze. Today we had, I mean, I was just talking to Jordan, and other than 16, every single shot we hit was into the wind. I mean, we didn’t get one hole downwind. I don’t know how you can go around this golf course and do that other than 16, which worked in our favour. All three of us made birdies there. But yeah, I thought the wind was tricky today. It was hard to get a beat on it, and it wasn’t blowing one or two miles an hour, it was enough to where it would affect the golf ball enough. That’s why I think it played tougher this morning.

Yeah, I mean, probably obviously the way I hit my irons today was, finally I felt like I had a lot of control of my distance and the shot shapes. I hit a lot of great shots, you have to shoot a 61. I think that was probably the biggest key. But probably the most important part of the round would have been No. 11, where I made that really good bunker save because I put myself in just an awful spot with a wedge.

On 9, I’ve been hitting hybrid off the tee, and today I hit hybrid and a pitching wedge to about two inches, and then yesterday I did the same thing, hybrid and a pitching wedge to about five feet and made it. I just want to hit it off the fairway, especially around here, because the rough is pretty thick. It’s hard to control the golf ball. The greens are fast and kind of firm. For me, it doesn’t really matter what distance I’m playing from, as long as I’m in the fairway.”

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 scoreable 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.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the winners of the Travelers since 2010:

  • 2021 – Harris English: Round 1: 15th, Round 2: 20th, Round 3: 6th.
  • 2020 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 79th, Round 2: 20th, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 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 shots from the lead during the tournament of Travelers winners since 2010:

  • 2021 – Harris English: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2020 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 9 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 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.

Form of Travelers winners since 2010:

  • Harris English: 3rd US Open/12th Palmetto/64th PGA/13th TPC Craig Ranch.
  • Dustin Johnson: 17th Harbour/MC Colonial/48th Mexico/10th Riviera.
  • 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.

  • 2021 – Hickok / Kodaira  – AM/PM Split -7/63 – 200/1 & 150/1.
  • 2020 – Hughes – AM -10/60 – 150/1.
  • 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:

  • 4 – Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Brandt Snedeker.
  • 3 – Jordan Spieth.
  • 2 – J.J. Henry, Brooks Koepka, Scott Piercy, Brendan Steele, Nick Watney.
  • 1 – Jonas Blixt, Keegan Bradley, Patrick Cantlay, Cameron Champ, Stewart Cink, Cam Davis, Harris English, Emiliano Grillo, Bill Haas, James Hahn, Tom Hoge,  Russell Knox, Nate Lashley, Marc Leishman, Luke List, William McGirt, Joaquin Niemann, Andrew Putnam, Chez Reavie, Scott Stallings, Justin Thomas, Kevin Tway, Erik van Rooyen, Richy Werenski.

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 with Poa Annua mixed green surfaces, 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.

A look at Dustin Johnson’s west coast resume tells you all you need to know. A 2-time winner at Pebble Beach (2009, 2010) and a winner at Riviera Country Club (2017) amongst 10 top-10 finishes, DJ also has a 3rd place at Torrey Pines (2011) to his name.

Johnson may not be the best example, so let’s take defending champion Harris English. A winner at Kapalua (2021) and with a 3rd (2015), 4th (2014) and 9th (2013) at Waialae; even the Georgia-based player has a decent west coast Poa resume. 10th (2014) at Riviera, Harris had finished 2nd (2015) and 8th (2018) at Torrey Pines, before finishing 3rd at the Torrey Pines-hosted U.S. Open last year. That was his best ever Major finish and by the following Sunday he had won the Travelers Championship.

2019 champion Chez Reavie won this straight off finishing 3rd at 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 has finished 7th (2016) and 10th (2020) at Riviera Country Club.

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), 9th (2020) and 3rd (2021) 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.

So what is the 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 (Putts per GIR) across the week, with a sub-1.7 Putts per GIR looking an essential target for victory. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to a strong Strokes Gained Putting performance, so we aren’t necessarily talking about whoever holes the highest distance of putts winning this week. Instead 5 of the last 6 winners all have ranked in the top 18 for Strokes Gained on Approach and all have been in the top 6 for Strokes Gained Tee to Green.

My Final Travelers Championship Tips Are As Follows

Scottie Scheffler 3pts win 11/1 with Unibet

I’ll start with a win-only bet on Scottie Scheffler. The World Number 1 was in his pomp at Brookline, and looks ready to add to his incredible 4 tournament haul in 2022. It’s worth remembering that he also lost a play-off at the Charles Schwab Challenge to his friend Sam Burns the week after the PGA Championship, and was only a shot back of Matt Fitzpatrick at the U.S. Open last week. Wow!

4th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 1st for Total Driving, 2nd for Strokes Gained on Approach, 13th for Greens in Regulation, 3rd for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 2nd for Ball Striking at Brookline last week, you cannot downplay his performance in anyway, shape or form. And actually in a field that includes Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, his joint favouritism with Rory smacks a little of value to me, especially as this will be only his 3rd consecutive appearance compared to Rory, who will be going 4 consecutive appearances this week.

Scheffler has course experience here after last year, where he was 11th going into the weekend. I’ll take him win-only in expectation of a strong run in Connecticut this week. RESULT: T13

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Keegan Bradley 1.5pts EW 35/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Keegan Bradley on a short, plotter’s course makes a lot of sense to me this week. Fresh off his first Major top 10 since the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, Keegan, who has jumped 43 places back into the world’s top 50 on the OWGR in 2022, must be looking forward to a visit to TPC River Highlands with real optimism. 8th (2017) and 2nd (2019) here at the Travelers across his 5 past renewals, Keegan is a proud New England guy who has a decent enough record in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island across his career. A 5th win at the Travelers Championship would mean a great deal to the 36 year-old.

Comfortable on ‘up-state’ golf courses, Keegan’s last win on the PGA Tour was at the 2018 BMW Championship played at Aronimink, and his win previous to that was the 2012 WGC Bridgestone Invitational played at Firestone South. That’s 2 wins across Ohio and Pennsylvania. West coast Poa Annua form at Riviera (2nd 2012, 4th 2015) and Torrey Pines (4th 2017, 5th 2018) makes a ton of sense, and Keegan is playing some amazing plus consistent stuff right now.

5th at TPC Sawgrass, 8th at TPC San Antonio, 4th at TPC Louisiana (paired with Brendan Steele) and 2nd at TPC Potomac, prior to 7th last week, Bradley is undoubtedly just a win away from serious contention for Team USA in the President’s Cup. A rank of 10th in this field for Strokes Gained Current Form over the past 8 weeks probably won’t surprise you, and from a Strokes Gained perspective Bradley was 1st for Approach and 4th for Tee to Green at Brookline last week. RESULT: T19

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Seamus Power 1pt EW 55/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Seamus Power has also impressed me of late. It’s easy to remember him as a Korn Ferry graduate scratching around for his PGA Tour playing privileges, but he’s much more than that these days.

3rd at the Sony Open, 9th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a Quarter Finalist at the WGC Dell Match Play; he’s now become a genuine each-way punt at Major Championships. 9th at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, last week he was a 12th place finisher at the U.S. Open. A level par performance over the final 54 holes at Brookline saw Seamus surge as plenty cracked at the toughest test of 2022.

That to me boosts his chances this week, where I think scoring will be more than possible. Power has built his blossoming career, which now sees him up to 36th in the OWGR, around shooting strong numbers on short-to-medium length tests. His maiden PGA Tour win last year came at -21/267 at Keene Trace. 3rd this year at Waialae featured a -19/261 total. Multiple top-10 finishes across Pebble Beach, TPC Craig Ranch, Glen Abbey, Detroit Golf Club, TPC Deere Run and Sea Island have all come at the mid-to-late teens winning total we are looking for this week.

Plus Seamus has now played at River Highlands 4 times and seems to be getting his head around the course. 12 months ago he shot 66/67 over Thursday and Friday, which saw the Las Vegas, Nevada resident head into the weekend in 4th place. 19th was his eventual finish, but I’m a believer that a more confident and Tour-established Power would contend down the stretch if he starts as well this week. RESULT: T25

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Brendan Steele 1pt EW 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Recency bias sometimes blinds, especially with a Major Championship fresh in the mind. Brendan Steele tends to play quite a regimented selection of tournaments. Genuinely pretty much courses that he likes, unless he squeaks into a Major. A look at his form here at TPC River Highlands highlights an scoring average of 68.08, which of multi-tournament attendees is behind only Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Patrick Cantlay. Decent company I think you will agree. 13th (2011), 13th (2013), 5th (2014), 17th (2016), 14th (2017) and 6th (2020) from 11 appearances, which also includes another couple of top-25 finishes, highlights the Californian’s like for TPC River Highlands. So he clearly likes the course, how about current form?

13th at The Players, 4th at the Zurich Team Event (with Keegan Bradley), 9th at the PGA Championship (his best ever Major finish) and 10th at The Memorial – Brendan has landed 4 top-13 finishes in his last 6 starts. He must be full of confidence and we know he likes Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix greens simply looking at his record away from the Travelers. A winner twice at Silverado (2016 & 2017), he’s also been a top-10 finisher at the likes of the Barracuda Championship when it was played at Montreux G&CC.

Fresh off his best ever finish at The Memorial where his 10th place finish saw him rank 5th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 1st for Total Driving, 11th for Strokes Gained on Approach, 6th for Greens in Regulation, 10th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 1st for Ball Striking. RESULT: T25

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Denny McCarthy 1pt EW 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

I’ll also ride the hot hand of Denny McCarthy. Now into the top 100 in the OWGR for the first time, Denny played some extraordinary stuff at the U.S. Open last week. We know that McCarthy is a phenomenal putter – he ranks 4th on the PGA Tour – but his last 2 outings have seen him rank 14th and 24th for Tee to Green – powered in the main by his approach play. That in itself turns Denny into a very dangerous animal for obvious reasons.

3rd after 36 holes & 6th after 54 holes at TPC Potomac, 2nd after 36 holes & 7th after 54 holes at Muirfield Village, the Maryland bred and University of Virginia educated 29 year-old, eventually finished 24th & 5th respectively. That was before last week at Brookline, where McCarthy equalled both Matt Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris with a -4/136 best weekend score at the U.S. Open, where he vaulted from the cut line to 7th spot by the close of Sunday.

Full of confidence, I’m hopeful that McCarthy, who has always been capable of linking top 10 finishes together, can string together a few -4/66s here at River Highlands, which he has done across 4 starts in Hartford, Connecticut. RESULT: MC

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Joel Dahmen 1pt EW 90/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Joel Dahmen was excellent at the U.S. Open last week. 1st for Total Accuracy, 4th for Strokes Gained Approach, 1st for Greens in Regulation and 5th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, Dahmen was the co-leader after 36 holes at Brookline – eventually finishing 10th. That was Joel’s second T10 at a Major following his 10th at the 2020 PGA Championship, hosted at TPC Harding Park.

Both Brookline and Harding Park are relatively short for Major Championship purposes and both feature Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix greens. Joel seems accustomed to Poa with 9th (2019) at Torrey Pines, 14th (2020) & 6th (2022) at Pebble Beach, and 5th (2020) at Riviera standing out from a California Poa perspective. I like that angle.

A definite plotter who for me is most comfortable at mid-teen to resort level scoring tests, as 2nd at the 2018 John Deere Classic signifies perfectly with a score of -19/265, Joel’s last visit to TPC River Highlands featured 4 straight rounds in the 60s including a Sunday -5/65 which was good enough for a top-20 finish. RESULT: 69th

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:00BST 20.6.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.