GOLF Free Picks for
Posted Wednesday, June 20 at 1:15 PM EST.
Cutoff time for this event is June 21 at 7:00 AM EST.
The Travelers Championship:
This week the TOUR goes from the ridiculous to the sublime. Carnage. That’s the best way to describe last week’s US Open at Shinnecock Hills, as the course barely budged an inch in terms of complexity across four rounds so the players can breathe a sigh of relief that TPC River Highlands is rather more forgiving. This is one of the shortest courses on the PGA TOUR: a relatively minuscule 6,840 yards for its Par 70, and this original Robert Ross design was given the Pete Dye treatment in a full overhaul back in 1982. The greens are Bentgrass and on the small side, and that is the course’s chief defense really with the trees that line the fairways largely managing to keep the winds at bay. There is a slightly tougher trio of holes known as the ‘Golden Triangle’ from 15-17, and these wind around a giant lake that tests the ball striking of any potential winner come Sunday afternoon. There are only two Par 5s at River Highlands, but that doesn’t seem to affect the scoring. Most of the recent winners have reached mid-teens under par, while Jim Furyk famously carded a round of 58 here back in 2016. With countless other rounds of 60/61, it is fair to say that this is a second-shot course that many will slay. Look for the winner to be in the -20 range or even better.
What we’re looking for this week:
Although the course is easy, it’s actually one of the toughest to pick a winner at because there is no single way of achieving success at TPC River Highlands. Take the last six winners, for example. You’ve got two major champions (Spieth, Bubba), one nearly major champion (Marc Leishman), a noted wind player (Russell Knox) and two short and straight ball-strikers (Kevin Streelman, Ken Duke). Some of those guys are accurate off the tee, others slightly more wild and carefree. There is no template off the peg for success here, and so we can surmise that this is very much a second shot, GIR-centric layout. With the ease of the course, this is going to come down to a putting contest; aided and abetted by getting the ball as close to the hole as possible on approach. Statistically speaking, Par 4 Scoring is the obvious foundation this week given that conditions are easy and there are only two Par 5s to work with. How does the US Open affect our thinking? Last year’s correlation was something of an anomaly given how easy the major played at Erin Hills, but you do wonder if the war of attrition at Shinnecock Hills – and the subsequent 125-mile trip – will be a factor this week. Perhaps backing those who didn’t feature on Long Island, or at least had an early finish, might be wise. We’re always happy to look to Pete Dye links across his courses, too. Dig through the history books and you’ll find plenty of River Highland-Harbour Town correlations, and even TPC Sawgrass offers some insight, as Sergio Garcia, KJ Choi, Davis Love III, Scott Verplank, David Toms and Streelman have all won or finished second at both venues since the year 2000.
Unless otherwise stated, the following bets to win outright will be placed at BET365 because of their cash-out option during the event:
To Win outright:
Si-Woo Kim 110-1
A winner at Sawgrass, defeated in a play-off at Harbour Town, Si-Woo’s odds here are too high to ignore. The 22-year-old is something of an enigma, and you never quite know what you are going to get from him week in, week out but the talent is there for sure, and even at his young age, the Korean has picked up a pair of PGA TOUR titles.
Si-Woo’s form is up and down but that is par for the course for this young man, who if he brings his A-Game to another Pete Dye layout could contend once again. We like that Kim missed the cut last week so he’s had a couple of extra days off and makes the short trip from Long Island to Connecticut. He figures to be fresh and he figures to be focused. It’s also worth noting that after playing at the Masters, he finished second the following week at the Heritage and also made eight straight cuts before missing last week. Kim lines up well this week (Risking 0.2 units to win 22 units).
Wesley Bryan 140-1
One of the players who will have benefited most from not playing in the US Open is Wesley Bryan, who found a bit of form last time out and would have been happy not to have his confidence sapped at Shinnecock Hills. Bryan’s T12 in the St Jude Classic was a season’s best, and featured two rounds of 66 into the bargain. He is what we might call a ‘second half golfer’. Pretty ropey off the tee, Bryan is excellent with iron, wedge and putter in hand, and around River Highlands, that has proven to be a recipe for success through the years. Bryan ranks 28th ON TOUR in SG: Approach, 29th in SG: Putting and 39th in SG: Around-the-Green (Risking 0.2 units to win 28 units).
Beau Hossler 80-1
Here’s a remarkable statistic: Beau Hossler ranked 18th for Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green at Pebble Beach in 2017 and somehow still managed to miss the cut. He made the cut there this year and finished T43. The answer, as is usually the case, was that Hossler had a bit of a nightmare week with the putter back in 2016 (-1.38 strokes gained to be precise) but the good news is that he is a fine putter and his overall game is great. He’s also two years older and two years better. Hossler’s neat chipping-and-putting game should be well suited to this test but most importantly is that the value on him here is too good. Dude should be priced lower than an entire slew of pros here that include Jason Day (18-1), Ryan Moore (33-1) Russell Knox (45-1) and plenty more (Risking 0.2 units to win 16 units).
Abraham Ancer 200-1
Great second shots and strong putting is the name of the game this week and that’s an area where Abraham Ancer really shines. The talented young Mexican has a cracking short game, and he has shown glimpses in his debut PGA TOUR season that he could be one to watch in years to come. We’re only interested in the here-and-now, truth be told, but there are upsides to Ancer: he has recorded a top-10 at one of our correlated courses, and bagged another in the Houston Open. This is a talented kid, and in a good situational event like this one, he may just shine. There are going to be a lot of disappointing efforts this week from players that played in last week’s grueling test and last year at this exact same time, Ancer started heating up with back-to-back second place finishes followed by a T18 and T7. It’s safe to say that as the weather heats up so does Ancer and we’d be sick if he won this week and we didn’t have him. The risk is worth the reward (Risking 0.2 units to win 40 units).
Head-to-head Matchups for The Travelers Championship
HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUPS for The Travelers Championship
The H2H wagers below are for 72 holes:
Brandt Snedeker +110 over Russell Knox (BET365)
After finishing 12th at the U.S. Open last week, Russell Knox is on most every publication’s radar this week, which is the perfect time to sell high. Knox had a decent week with the flat stick at Shinnecock Hills but don’t be fooled. Typically, the Scot throws strokes away with putter in hand and we’re not going to ignore that. We’re also not going to ignore the toll the U.S. Open had on most contenders and it would surprise us not if Knox missed the cut this week.
While it's hard to believe that it's been a year already since Spieth's bunker hole-out to win the Travelers Championship, you can't blame Snedeker for possibly feeling that it's been one of the longest 12-month cycles of his career. Little did he know it at the time, but his T14 at TPC River Highlands last year would be his last tournament for five months. And while there have been whiffs of who we've always known him to be – a scorer with the sharpest touch around and on greens you're ever going to find – he's lacked consistency. Expectations are elevated this week as TPC River Highlands has been the site of many good memories. Given his form this time around, his record doesn't resonate like other horses, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Since 2011, he's 4-for-4 with top 15s in his last three trips. At the St. Jude Classic a week before the U.S. Open, Sneds finished sixth and he did not embarrass himself at Shinnecock Hills by making the cut and finishing 48th. Brandt Snedeker is not only worth a bet at 60-1 this week but he’s a great bet to finish ahead of Knox. Dude is rounding into form again and is very much under the radar in this “what have-you-done-for-me-lately” business (Risking 2 units to win 2.2).
While we like what Brandon Steele brings to the table, we don’t like the set-up for him this week after limping to the finish line last week at Shinnecock Hills. Steele looked worse each day at the Open with rounds of 72-73-75-80. It was a grueling weekend for all and Steele looked exhausted coming off the final hole on Sunday. Even though he finished 14th here last year after the U.S. Open, last year’s Open was at Erin Hills, where the pros slayed the course. We cannot overstate the toll that we trust Shinnecock Hills took on most golfers that tested it last week so we’re happy to get behind Patrick Rodgers this week, who, by contrast, looked very good last week in the final round.
The 25-year-old Rodgers is prodigiously talented and he offered another glimpse into what is likely to be a bright future in the game when closing with 67 on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills. Only Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama went lower on the day. Rodgers’ irons were dialed in a treat in the US Open, as he gained +1.22 on Approach, and his usually reliable putting stroke let him down a touch but he is typically excellent on the greens, and a switch to pure Bentgrass should suit. With three top-10’s to his name this term, Rodgers looks like he’s just about ready to pop and claim that maiden PGA TOUR win. We like the momentum he brings and his under the radar status. Everyone is talking about Tommy Fleetwood’s final round while Patrick Rodgers’ was almost as good (Risking 2 units to win 2.4).
Justin Thomas -115 over Jordan Spieth (BET365)
If Justin Thomas was in Jordan Spieth’s form and Spieth was in JT’s form, Spieth would be a 3-1 favorite here. In this sport, more than any other, you pay for names and that is absolutely the case here. Because the media hypes up Spieth, McIlroy, Tiger, Phil and a few others, we get tremendous value in fading that select few and we’re not going to miss up the opportunity here to do just that. Spieth has finished 41, T32, MC and MC in four of his last five events while JT has finished not worse than 25th in 17 of his last 18 events (!). Of those 18 events, JT has finished top-10 in 10 of them and now he’s evenly priced or a slight favorite against Spieth? That’s a bargain.
It was another under-the-radar finish at the US Open for Justin Thomas, who ended up with a T25 finish. That’s not exactly what he would have been hoping for from his tilt at the major, but then he didn’t do any harm to his game. Thomas actually gained +1.13 strokes on the field from tee-to-green, which confirms he took to the Shinnecock challenge better than most, and so heading to rather easier climes, we can at least rely upon the fact that the former world number one is still in great form. We recognize River Highlands as a second shot course, and this is an area where JT really thrives. The improvement in his iron play in the past year or so has been remarkable and he genuinely is one of the best approach play merchants on the planet these days. JT ranks second ON TOUR in SG: Tee-to-Green, 5 th in Par 4 Birdie or Better Leaders and 8th SG: Approach (Risking 2.2 units to win 2).
If we like Beau Hossler’s chances to win this event outright, we absolutely are going to trust him to put a beat down on Luke List. For one, Luke List missed the cut at the U.S. Open last week and if nothing else, one has to question his state of mind. Since he turned pro in 2009, List has made the cut once in seven majors. He has a horrible record at the majors and wanted desperately to change that this year but embarrassed himself again with rounds of 75 and 77. That’s the legacy he’ll have to take with him to Connecticut this year when he would probably rather run and hide somewhere. Luke List has scuffled in his last four starts and is just 1-for-6 at the Travelers from 2007-2016. His state of mind this week has probably never been worse (Risking 2.04 units to win 2).
Others to consider and avoid for DFS (Daily Fantasy):
Lahiri has been playing some decent stuff lately, with eight of his last 12 rounds being 69 or better. That hasn’t yielded any particularly high finishes because he continues to throw in one bad round per event, but if he can iron that out then he can certainly better last season’s effort of T17 here, where he had a 63 on the card. Lahiri delivered three top-10s last season, so he is certainly capable of getting into the mix. Brian Harman Both Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson have won at River Highlands, which suggests it suits a left handers eye, and a shorter test of green-making suits Brian Harman down to the ground. He ranks a lowly 152nd for Driving Distance but 16th for Accuracy, so there’s the payoff, and with high GIR (24th) and Strokes Gained: Putting (22nd) stats you’d figure that it’s only a matter of time before Harman adds a third PGA TOUR title to his collection. That may well come at River Highlands. His previous best finish here was T3 in 2015, and he also has top-10s to his name at a pair of other Pete Dye properties in TPC Sawgrass and Harbour Town.
Both Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson have won at River Highlands, which suggests it suits a left handers eye, and a shorter test of green-making suits Brian Harman down to the ground. He ranks a lowly 152nd for Driving Distance but 16th for Accuracy, so there’s the payoff, and with high GIR (24th) and Strokes Gained: Putting (22nd) stats you’d figure that it’s only a matter of time before Harman adds a third PGA TOUR title to his collection. That may well come at River Highlands. His previous best finish here was T3 in 2015, and he also has top-10s to his name at a pair of other Pete Dye properties in TPC Sawgrass and Harbour Town.
Perez has gone seven straight starts in individual competition without a top-35 finish. Granted, there were some challenging events sprinkled in, but that hasn't stopped him before. This is also his first look at TPC River Highlands in nine years and he ranks 91st in Par 4 Birdie or Better Leaders. Not good. Kyle Stanley He's been a man for the job on all kinds of tracks over the last 15 months, and it was just two weeks ago that he was a playoff victim at Muirfield Village, but he's best suited for longer tests where his ball-striking with some pop off the tee can really shine. Also just 4-for-8 at TPC River Highlands with but two top-55 finishes.
He's been a man for the job on all kinds of tracks over the last 15 months, and it was just two weeks ago that he was a playoff victim at Muirfield Village, but he's best suited for longer tests where his ball-striking with some pop off the tee can really shine. Also just 4-for-8 at TPC River Highlands with but two top-55 finishes.
Total units wagered is 9.04. We will update the results at the conclusion of this event.
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Travelers Championship (Risking 9.04 units - To Win: 0.00)
GOLF Historical - Totals
|Last 30 Days||2||2||0.00||+3.04|
|Season to Date||12||9||0.00||+9.56|