Editor's note (June 24, 2020) - Brooks Koepka and Webb Simpson have withdrawn out of an abundance of caution due to someone close to each of them testing positive for COVID-19. Neither player tested positive on Wednesday.
If at the conclusion of the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship on March 12, you had closed your eyes and covered your ears until right now, and then took stock of your surroundings, you'd wonder what the fuss is all about. Yet, this week's Travelers Championship is the first PGA TOUR event since that hasn't been rescheduled or canceled.
The 3M Open in four weeks is the only other tournament remaining this season that hasn't budged. For the locals, for the golfers and for golf fans everywhere, each presents a taste of life as it was once familiar.
It was at last year's Travelers in which Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland made their professional debuts. It also marked the first time that the duo competed in the same event as Collin Morikawa. A year later, each is a PGA TOUR winner and in the field of 156 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
Scroll past the projected contenders for additional details on the makeup of the field, the inviting host course and more.
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POWER RANKINGS: TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Defending champion Chez Reavie will be reviewed in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider with 2017 winner Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Jason Day and other notables.
OK, so not everything with respect to the competition of the Travelers Championship is exactly the same. For one, the field reserved room for only two open qualifiers instead of the usual four. This is one of the modifications made for all six of the remaining opens due to the reduction of playing time for the Korn Ferry Tour graduates in 2019-20.
Another staple of the construction of the field also has been affected by a ripple of the impact of the pandemic. Whereas TPC River Highlands has served as a timely backdrop for recently turned professionals right out of college, the option for college seniors to stay another year has sharpened the focus on just the two who will be making their PGA TOUR debuts as pros this week. Sahith Theegala and Peter Kuest launch a promised fortnight of action as each is committed to next week's Rocket Mortgage Classic as well.
Theegala was the National Player of the Year. The Pepperdine product rose to as high as No. 3 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He made his TOUR debut as the winner of the Collegiate Showcase ahead of the 2017 Genesis Invitational. Kuest, a 10-time winner at BYU, was the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and First-Team All-American. He's never appeared in sanctioned competition.
TPC River Highlands is as welcoming site and predictable test as it gets. While there are no fans this year – another deviation from the norm – the stock par 70 tipping at just 6,841 yards encourages the kind of aggressive thinking that they'd love. Last year's scoring average of 69.724 aligned with all editions in recent memory. Chez Reavie's 17-under 263 en route to victory matched Bubba Watson's aggregate the previous year.
Despite the absence of overall length and existence of four-inch primary rough, accuracy off the tee isn't a prerequisite to contend. The objective is the classic combination of hitting greens and sinking putts on the Poa annua surfaces. Scrambling is the separator on targets averaging just 5,000 square feet.
Reavie ranked T7 in GIR (at 75 percent), but he led his field in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. He's always among the leaders in fairways hit, but he still needs his putter to pay off the precision. Case in point, he slotted 10th in Strokes Gained: Putting and second in scrambling. As is the case with many winners on most courses, he also led the field in par-4 scoring.
The likelihood of rain early in the week could restrict the greens from reaching 12 feet on the Stimpmeter as prepared, but the course will dry out over the first three days of competition. The threat of another system doesn't return until the weekend. Daytime temperatures will climb into the upper 80s. Winds will remain light until the energy intensifies.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.