Following a thrilling Sunday at the U.S. Open, we move forward to the 2022 Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT. The field is strong as the PGA Tour continues to showcase the star-studded players that the new rival LIV Tour cannot. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, and Jordan Spieth are just a few of the elite who will tee it up before they head overseas to tune up for The Open Championship in the Scottish Open.
The home of the only 58 in Tour history (Jim Furyk, 2016), this Pete Dye-designed Par 70 tips out at a mere 6,852 yards, making it one of the shortest courses these guys will play all season. Around the Green and Approach Play from 125-150 are critical factors for me this week when looking at advanced stats historically at TPC River Highlands. Although it is a short track, those that can confidently let the driver rip and keep it in the short stuff will be at an even more significant advantage here than most weeks.
Travelers Championship Tournament Analysis
A target of mine this week in DFS formats, as well as a Top 10 prop at 11/1 odds, is Lucas Glover. Glover heads into this event in good form, gaining 1.4 strokes per round off the tee (last 20 rounds). This has led to Glover making the weekend in six of his past seven events. An above-average putter in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the flatstick has let him down this year as he currently is 196th in total putting. If he can get some positive regression in that category, you are getting great value on the Top Ten price.
Another 11/1 Top Ten bet I will be making is on J.J. Spaun. After taking down his first PGA Tour title this April at the Valero Texas Open, Spaun has only played in five events, missing the cut in three of them. This has perhaps thrown the bookmakers off the scent, but looking at his advanced stats, there has been no glaring issue for this downturn in results. When looking at Strokes Gained only on Pete Dye courses, Spaun ranks inside the top 30 in this field Off-The-Tee and Total Ballstriking.
Seamus Power has had an impressive run of golf this season. In addition to a T-3 finish at the Sony Open, Power has had fantastic showings at each of the majors thus far, finishing T-27 at Augusta, T-9 at the PGA, and T-12 last week at the U.S. Open. His putter has done most of the heavy lifting for him week in and week out, but he has also been excelling Off-The-Tee (gaining .8 strokes per round over his last 20) and Around-The-Green (.5 strokes/last 20). After a poor run with his Approach play in the spring, Power has found something lately with plus performances with his irons in each of the past three events. All this adds up to a play for me at his 50/1 outright number.
A breaker of many hearts last week as the DFS chalk, I will give Tony Finau a pass for missing the cut at the U.S. Open and go back to the well here at 33/1. Big Tone had three Top 4’s in the five events before Brookline and has been gaining significant strokes in each facet of the game for nearly two months now. The pulled drive left is what cost him the weekend at the U.S. Open, so if he can get that under control, he will capitalize on leading this field in GIR-Gained over the past 24 rounds and be in the thick of things Sunday.
Backing Jordan Spieth is never for the faint of heart, and when I put money on him, it is almost always at shorter courses like River Highlands. In April, he won at the RBC Heritage, and earlier this season, he finished second at Pebble Beach; both courses also rank inside the Top Five of shortest the pros play. These events allow the Golden Boy to showcase his world-class short game, which is what he did here in 2017 when he gained six strokes Around-The-Green en route to winning the tournament. At 25/1, give him a look to capture his second Travelers Championship title.
For First Round Leader Bets, I will back a triumvirate of players who exceed in Birdies-or-Better on Pete Dye courses. Patrick Cantlay (+2800), Cameron Davis (+10000), and Matthew NeSmith (+10000) each pop in this model and have shown they can put a lot of circles on their scorecards in any given round.
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