Today's Free Picks for
Posted Wednesday, June 24 at 11:30 AM EST.
Cutoff time for this event is June 25 at 7:00 AM EST.
Streaming Subscribers: Watch on Sky Sports Golf Channel in the Sky Sports Group beginning at 6:30 AM EST on Thursday and every day thereafter.
Travelers Championship Preview
In benign conditions last week, the field was able to make hay on a Pete Dye designed course at Harbour Town and they will be hoping to do likewise this time out in another track with the Dye DNA in its make-up. Okay, so the legendary designer wasn’t directly responsible for TPC River Highlands – that honor fell to Robert Ross, but Dye did provide a fairly comprehensive overhaul in 1982. With the foundations already laid, he couldn’t reproduce the typically devilish characteristics he is known for, and so the primary defense of this layout is the wind. If conditions are favorable, incredible feats are possible at TPC River Highlands – Jim Furyk shot a round of 58 here back in 2016. It’s not fair or correct to call this layout ‘average’, but it does have an average profile – average-sized fairways, average tree coverage and average-sized Bentgrass/Poa Annua blend greens, which run at an average 11 or so on the stimpmeter. Water is only in play on four holes, although three of those form the ‘Golden Triangle’ of 15 through 17, which play adjacent to or around a giant lake. Measuring 6,841 yards for its Par 70, TPC River Highlands is short enough that anyone can thrive, and as the history books show there are scores to be made here by accurate types with an eye for a birdie on the 12 Par 4 holes – there are just two Par 5s to play with.
What We’re Looking for:
The history books for the Travelers Championship are littered with short hitters who are able to grind out winning scores with relentless accuracy. Chez Reavie has been joined in the winners’ circle at TPC River Highlands by the likes of Russell Knox, Kevin Streelman, Ken Duke and Stewart Cink, with Jerry Kelly, KJ Choi and David Toms former runners-up. But just when you thought you had this layout wrapped up, you note that Bubba Watson has won three times here and Phil Mickelson twice – not accurate plodders by any measure. Still, there does seem to be two profiles of players to look for – accurate ball strikers and bombers who are able to scramble like hell and hole some putts. For the large part, the former strategy is arguably the most valuable play. We’re looking for players who can make birdies on Par 4s consistently too, and one interesting angle could be soft greens – if the sun bakes Bentgrass it can soften, and the rain (should it arrive) will also enhance that idea. In that case, backing those who can hit darts at the flag with iron in hand might be the clever option. We are always looking for longshots to win outright. There is no value in playing guys like Rory McIlroy at 12-1 for instance. These high-class fields mean that great quality is available at odds of 50-1 or more. Reavie was 70/1 when he won, and if we go back a bit farther we note that Marc Leishman (100/1), Kevin Streelman (125/1) and Ken Duke (150/1) all won here at mouth-watering prices. Incidentally, this week's Travelers Championship is the first open since The Honda Classic. It's also the first 156-man field since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am where Nick Taylor prevailed. Lots to choose from so let’s get started.
To Win Outright: These are played at BET365 because of their cashout option.
Matthew Fitzpatrick 55-1
One of the absolute best players to graduate from the European Tour in recent years, it won’t be long before Matt Fitzpatrick is contesting PGA TOUR events at the business end. He was in the mix at the RBC Heritage, eventually finishing T14 after some rash decision-making, but it’s a strong continuation which saw the Englishman bank a top-10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational just before the break. Solid in all aspects of the game, Fitzpatrick is particularly well suited to shorter tracks where precision is key. He ranks 23rd ON TOUR in SG: Putting, 39th in Scoring Average and 20th in Approach from 150-175 yards (Risking 0.2 units to win 11 units).
Keegan Bradley 125-1
In his return from action after the pandemic hit, Bradley finished 32nd at the Charles Schwab Challenge before skipping last week’s event. It’s well planned, as he skipped last week to prepare for this week at what is likely his favorite course. Keegan Bradley has been on Tour since 2011 and he has never missed this event. That says he likes it here. He’s also never missed the cut. Furthermore, he’s sprinkled four top 25s, including a personal-best T2 last year. His scoring average in 36 competitive rounds at this track is an outstanding 68.39. It's a virtual home game for the Vermont native and he’s absolutely worth a look (Risking 0.2 units to win 25 units).
Joel Dahmen 90-1
Joel Dahmen wouldn’t have wanted the hiatus in golf to have come, having notched consecutive T5 finishes in the Arnold Palmer and the Genesis Invitational prior to the lockdown. He’s crept back into form after the break, and he is beginning to look once again like a player who could win on the PGA TOUR. Since the start of 2019, Dahmen has banked four top-10s and a catalogue of top-20s, and he has the profile of a player who simply loves the grind – he will be rewarded with a trophy sooner or later, you suspect. Dahmen has the profile of a champion with high rankings in many key categories that include 24th ON TOUR in SG: Off the Tee, 15th in SG: Approach the Green, 10th in SG: Tee to Green and 28th in Scoring Average. Dude is on the verge of being recognized as one of the top in the business. He also ranks 31st in Money Won this season. Overlay (Risking 0.2 units to win 18).
Doc Redman 225-1
One of the fun things about golf analysis is that we have all the stats on hand to break down a player’s game. When we look at Doc Redman, we find a tremendously gifted young man who has a very high-quality iron game already. Other departments need work of course, but the 22-year-old is certainly heading in the right direction in his fledgling professional career. Redman is at least accurate off the tee to go with his sublime approach play, and if he can find a short game of any repute he will be a fixture on the upper echelons of tournament leaderboards more often than not. He’s not likely to win but for a small investment, we might have some fun and sweat. Doc ranks 24th ON TOUR in Driving Accuracy, 25th in SG: Approach and 40th in Greens in Regulation (Risking 0.2 units to win 45 units).
Head-to-head Matchups for the Travelers Championship
HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUP below is for 72 holes:
Scottie Scheffler +107 over Corey Connors (Pinnacle)
Don’t get us wrong, as one suspects Corey Conners will win plenty more PGA TOUR titles to add to his Texas Open crown, and you suspect courses like TPC River Highlands are where his immaculate ball-striking will be best rewarded. As a Canadian, he has an entire country watching and rooting every week and therefore his stock is very high after two good showings after the hiatus. Connors finished inside the top 20 at both the Charles Schwab Challenge and the RBC Heritage Classic and now one will pay a premium to back him here against the lesser known Scottie Scheffler.
Ever since finishing T7 at the Greenbrier in September of last year, Scottie Scheffler hasn’t looked back. Six top-20s since, including solo third at the American Express and T5 at the RSM Classic, shows plenty of class and a particular fondness for playing in the wind. He had three rounds in the 60’s at the Charles Schwab Challenge before a final round of 73 and then he skipped last week’s event. Scheffler’s form has generally been better on Bermuda too, as he ranked top-10 for SG: Around-the-Green at Bay Hill and he’ll need that chipping ability to shine once more at TPC River Highlands. It might surprise you to learn that Scottie ranks 9th ON TOUR in SG: Off the Tee, 21st ON TOUR in SG: Tee-To-Green, and 6th on Tour in Birdie Average. He’s also a smaller price to win outright then Connors but most books have Conners favored to beat Scheffler and it’s all because Conners profile is trending right now. Try to take advantage (Risking 2 units to win 2.14).
Patrick Reed -122 over Sergio Garcia (Pinnacle)
Out of nowhere, Sergio shot up the leaderboard on Sunday to once again be in the spotlight. Patrick Reed missed the cut and now that recency bias comes into play, as the books have Reed underpriced against Garcia and we plan to attack. Prior to last week, Garcia had not finished inside the top 35 in 13 of his last 14 events dating back to last season. He also missed the cut in a third of those events and now he’s getting some positive press because of one good showing? Garcia is not over the hill at 40-years of age but he’s past his prime while Patrick Reed is just approaching his.
At a wind-affected golf course where short game is key, Patrick Reed is a master. His record in Links golf, both in the USA and in Britain, is outstanding, and Reed is a player who really thrives when the wind is blowing. His short game is better than most, that is beyond doubt, and he is simply playing very good golf right now – a winner in Mexico four starts ago, he has since posted T15 at the Arnold Palmer and T7 at the Charles Schwab week. His short game at Colonial two weeks ago was in absolutely outstanding shape, and Reed looks ready to contend once more. He ranks 2nd ON TOUR in SG: Putting, 7th in Scoring Average and 25th in SG: Around the Green. Reed has also been a fixture at the tournament since 2012 and has risen for a T5 (2017) among three top 20’s (Risking 2.44 units to win 2).
Rory McIlroy -118 over Bryce Dechambeau (Coolbet)
Despite not winning two weeks in a row, Bryce Dechambeau finished inside the top 10 both times and there might not be a pro with more hype surrounding him right now than this guy. Yeah, he’s good and yeah, he’s a threat and yeah, he looks like he offers up great value as a dog against Rory but if you bet Bryce or bet against Rory, you would be buying high and selling low and that is something we cannot recommend. Instead, we’ll do the opposite and buy low and sell high. You see, while Bryce was finishing 3rd and 8th at the Charles Schwab and RBC respectively, Rory was finishing 32nd and 41st. Now we buy.
Prior to the break, nobody was able to really hold a candle to Rory McIlroy, whose ridiculous run of form showed six consecutive top-5 finishes worldwide. There was only one win in that spell, but that surely works in the Irishman’s favor: it’s not as if he is lacking in motivation or hunger. He has the perfect game for TPC River Highlands with his long, straight hitting and mastery at approaching small greens with precision, and as ever, it’s perhaps only the flatstick that can curtail his chances. Rory will take some stopping but more importantly, we’re thrilled to get him at a bargain price. He still ranks 1st in Scrambling and 2nd in SG: Tee-to-Green, 2nd in Scoring Average and 2nd in Eagles. (Risking 2.36 units to win 2).
Sungjae Im -106 over Collin Morikawa (Coolbet)
We’re pretty sure that if you follow this sport, whether it be hard core or casual, you’re aware of Collin Morikawa’s streak. After making the cut last week, Morikawa has now gone 22 consecutive made cuts to start his pro career on the PGA Tour. It’s the second-longest streak in the last 30 years behind only Tiger Woods, who began his career with 25 consecutive cuts made. Comparisons to Tiger Woods are almost always patently unfair, but this one is gaining steam. Morikawa will now start to feel the pressure. With each made cut, more of the media will want to talk with him. He’s clearly put himself in the spotlight while Sungjae Im missed the cut last week at the RBC Heritage Classic so nobody wants to talk to him.
Sungjae is one of the hardest-working players around, and his consistency is extraordinary: he delivered seven top-10 finishes last season, including a catalog of top-fives. A two-time champion on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2018, the 22-year-old fits the profile of a serial PGA TOUR winner because there really are few flaws in his game: from tee-to-green, and on the green, he fits the bill. Im wasn’t quite at his best at the RBC Heritage last week but do not expect a repeat performance here. He improves on something almost every time, which is a testament to his precocious talent. Most of Im’s rankings are better this year than last (12th in Birdie Average, 10th in Scoring Average, 19th in SG: Tee-to-Green) but Morikawa is getting all the attention. Win or lose, this is an outstanding value bet. (Risking 2.12 units to win 2).
We faded Jordan Spieth last week in two H2H’s and ripped up both our tickets after Kevin Kisner missed the cut by one stroke and so did Patrick Reed. It was very disappointing because Spieth was awful, just as we anticipated. While the entire field was slaying Harbour Town over the weekend, Spieth finished above par and ended up at -4 for the event. Unfortunately, we cannot fade him this week because the prices are not good. For instance, Hovland is -154 over Spieth and Fitzpatrick is -165. The point is that if you find a playable price against him, it comes recommended again to fade him. Kevin Kisner is +100 over Spieth at 888sport if you have an account there.
Cameron Champ … It was announced on Tuesday, that he's tested positive for COVID-19.
Others to consider for DFS or to win outright.
Joaquin Niemann 40-1
In the hunt for the title at the RBC Heritage, Joaquin Niemann fell just short in the end but it was his outstanding iron play that got him into the equation. That could be very handy this week. The Chilean finished inside the top-five here 12 months ago, and he loved aiming his darts at the flag in damp conditions. Fast forward to this week, and the vibe may be very similar. The Greenbrier champion is comfortable on Bentgrass and, by and large, saves his best golf for Par 70 events – precise ball-striking, rather than brutal hitting, is the name of Niemann’s game. Since the Charles Schwab Challenge, he has posted four of his last seven rounds at 65 or better. Look out.
Matthew NeSmith 200-1
On debut at TPC River Highlands, you suspect that this layout will be right up Matthew NeSmith’s street. He’s another who finds a higher percentage of greens in regulation than most, and if his putter is working – that tends to blow hot and cold, truth be told – then he can convert his scoring chances. Since the Mayakoba Classic, NeSmith has only missed one cut in 11 starts, with three top-20s and a best of T6 at the Puerto Rico Open. That consistency makes his salary and price something of an absolute bargain.
Dylan Frittelli 150-1
For a large swathe of Sunday’s action, Dylan Frittelli enjoyed the clubhouse lead at Harbour Town. He wasn’t likely to win with -17 – conditions were too amiable after the storm – but it just goes to show that he was at least close to a second PGA TOUR title. Central to Frittelli’s progress were a couple of extraordinary rounds of golf – he gained +5.68 strokes from tee-to-green on Thursday, and +5.09 on Sunday – and so the upshot is clear: if he had played a smidgen better on Friday and Saturday, he would have gone very close indeed. A proven wind player, Frittelli could far outperform this salary point at TPC River Highlands.
Brian Harman 80-1
The left-hander has been playing solid golf of late, and while he has been disappointing off the tee the ‘second half’ of his golf game is in fine shape. The reason he is on the list this week is because he loves TPC River Highlands – he’s three top-10s here in his last five trips, and that is proof positive that the course suits his eye. So, even if he is lacking in confidence off the tee, the familiar sightlines should at least give him a boost. Dense, tree-lined courses in the summer months have provided Harman with his best moments on the PGA TOUR – he’s won the John Deere Classic and the Wells Fargo in such conditions, and he clearly has the form and the love of this golf course to thrive again.
Max Homa 150-1
We played Max at the Charles Schwab, skipped over him last week but we’re going right back to the well here in some DFS plays for a little more because Homa offers up great value. A run of form of 9-6-14-5 leading into the coronavirus break will have left Max Homa tearing his hair out that he wasn’t able to convert that touch to another PGA TOUR title. He looked rusty at the Charles Schwab Challenge on his return, but there were much better signs in his T41 at the RBC Heritage – his four rounds were all in the 60s, and he gained +1.59 strokes from tee-to-green including +1.54 with irons in hand. Homa is comfortable on Bentgrass greens, and he has a habit of carrying good form across state lines and from one week to the next.
Total Units Wagered = 9.72 - We will update the results after this event.
4 golfers to win outright at 0.2 units each = -0.8 units
Rory McIlroy -118 over Bryce Dechambeau = -2.36 units
Scottie Scheffler +107 over Corey Connors (Pinnacle) +2.14 units
Patrick Reed -122 over Sergio Garcia (Pinnacle) +2 units
Sungjae Im -106 over Collin Morikawa (Coolbet) +2 units
Therefore 6.14 units - 3.16 units = a net profit of 2.98 units for this event.
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Travelers Championship (Risking 9.72 units - To Win: 0.00)