Horses for Courses: Travelers Championship
June 18, 2019
By Mike Glasscott, PGATOUR.COM
- Jordan Spieth became just the third player to go wire-to-wire and first since 1982 after his 2017 victory at the Travelers Championship. (Warren Little/Getty Images)
Summer will finally arrive on Friday but the PGA TOUR season is well into its autumn as it stops at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. After the Travelers Championship, there are just eight events left before the FedExCup Playoffs begin in August so the time is now for many.
The 68th Travelers Championship plays just 6,841 yards to Par-70 and its Poa-Bent greens will make it six consecutive weeks on this surface. With greens averaging just 5,000 square feet in size this will also not be a change from the last few events. Neither will be rough reaching around 3.5" off the fairways and greens.
This week will be a time to exhale for those who tackled Pebble Beach and the U.S. Open last week. Those who didn't get a chance to play for our national championship will be looking to get back on track or fine-tuned for the final run-in.
A full field of 156 players will battle it out for the winner's share of $1.296 million (500 FedExCup points) from the $7.2 million prize pool. Bubba Watson defends as he looks to pick up his fourth title this decade.
2018 - Bubba Watson (-17): For the second time in three wins at TPC River Highlands, Watson made up a final round deficit of six shots to claim the title. Paul Casey couldn't hold the four-shot 54-hole lead that he build and finished T2 three behind. Casey's T2 was his third top five in four starts here.
Notables: For the fifth year in a row the winner was either first or T1 in Par-4 scoring. ... Jordan Spieth opened with 63, again, but finished T42, as Phil Mickelson is the only player to defend here. ... Beau Hossler and J.B. Holmes also cashed T2. ... U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka placed T19. ... The last time the U.S. Open was on the West Coast only Brandt Snedeker hit the top 10 at both events (8th at Chambers Bay; T10 Travelers). ...
2017 - Jordan Spieth (-12): The first maiden winner since Phil Blackmar in 1985, Spieth became just the third player to go wire-to-wire and first since 1982. He defeated Daniel Berger on the first playoff hole with a pitch-in birdie out of the greenside bunker. Berger went agonizingly close again as he closed with 67 to force the playoff.
Notables: U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka DNS. ... Spieth, who opened with 63, arrived after T35 at Erin Hills. ... His total of 268 ties the highest winning total in the last 11 years. ... Only twice this decade has the scoring average exceeded 70 for the week.
2016 - Russell Knox (-14): Berger posted 62 in Round 3 three to lead by three, but Knox rallied with 68 on Sunday to win by a shot. Henley was tied with Knox entering the final round but a closing 73 knocked him back to T11.
Notables: Knox started the trend of three-straight winners finishing in the top five in Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green. ... Jim Furyk (not entered) set the TOUR and course record with 58 in Round 4 but don't forget about Justin Thomas's closing 62 or Patrick Cantlay setting the old course record, 60, as an amateur in 2011.
Key stat leaders
Golfers around the top 25 in each statistic on the 2018-19 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week. This is the 34th event of the season.
* - Top 10 finish since 2014
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
4 Patrick Cantlay
5 *Justin Thomas
7 *Brooks Koepka
8 *Paul Casey
11 Byeong Hun An
12 Tommy Fleetwood (first appearance)
15 Emiliano Grillo
19 *Keegan Bradley (never missed in eight tries)
20 Jason Kokrak
23 Lucas Glover
26 *Kevin Streelman
Putting: Birdie or Better Percentage
1 Si Woo Kim
2 *Bryson DeChambeau (T9, 2018)
4 *Justin Thomas
5 Wyndham Clark
6 *Jordan Spieth
9 Patrick Cantlay
11 Jason Day
12 Andrew Putnam
16 Cameron Champ
19 *Phil Mickelson (2001-2002; first visit since 2003)
20 *Marc Leishman (2012 champ)
21 *Brooks Koepka
24 Brandon Harkins
1 Patrick Cantlay
2 *Brooks Koepka
8 *Justin Thomas
11 Lucas Glover
11 *Aaron Baddeley (4, 2014)
19 Jason Day
19 Chez Reavie
19 Brian Stuard
19 Abraham Ancer
19 Cameron Tringale
30 Jonas Blixt
30 *Paul Casey
30 Si Woo Kim
30 *Phil Mickelson
30 *Troy Merritt (T8, 2017)
30 Sungjae Im
Landlord & Tenants
Bubba Watson: He's won thrice this decade and his next win will put him on top of the all-time wins list at TPC River Highlands. He's posted 67 or better in 25 of 44 rounds and his stroke average for the event is 67.48. Don't forget, he was T2 in 2012, fourth in 2013 and T6 in 2008 so this isn't a "new" phenomenon. For new gamers, I'll point out his results in U.S. Opens do not bleed into this event as he's cashed in 10 of 12 here.
Paul Casey: There's no point in over-thinking this player either. No Englishman has ever won, but he's played four events and returned a 67.06 scoring average with second, T17, T5 and T2 the last four years. His only two rounds of 16 over par are sadly late Sunday afternoon. He's 47-under during this run.
Charley Hoffman: After MC on debut in 2007, Hoffman returned in 2010 and hasn't missed a weekend. Of his last 16 rounds, 15 are in the red and his worst finish in the last six years is T26; half of those have gone for top-10 paychecks.
Brian Harman: The lefty has cashed in seven of eight including solo third in 2015 and T6 last year. Both of those efforts combined for 28-under.
Kevin Streelman: Announcing his affinity for this track with T10 on his maiden visit in 2008, the 2014 champ also cashed T8 in 2017. Of his 38 rounds, seven are 64 or better!
Marc Leishman: One of only three international winners since 1996, the Aussie broke his streak of eight straight paydays last year. Outside of his maiden voyage in 2009, 23 of his 26 rounds are par or better.
Ryan Moore: He's made nine cuts here and six have cashed T17 or better. Like Leishman, he MC last year breaking a run of seven straight paychecks.
Patrick Reed: Last year's 72-67 saw him miss by a shot, but he was T5 in 2017 and T11 in 2016. He also MC in 2015 with 67-72, but has killed the Par-5 holes here.
New to the Neighborhood:
Daniel Berger: He's lost a 54-hole lead and chased down another.
Russell Henley: He's 22-under over eight rounds counting a 73, good for T11 and T6.
Danny Lee: The switch flipped in 2015 (T25) after MC-81-MC, but it was his return in 2017 (T3) that is the best of the bunch. Nothing wrong with T15 last year as he has posted red numbers in 12 of his last 13 here.
Anirban Lahiri: The Indian opened 73-63 en route to T17 on debut in 2017 and backed it up with four rounds in the 60s for T9 last year. He's 18-under combined including rounds of 71 and 73!