Sleeper Picks: Travelers Championship
June 22, 2021
By Rob Bolton, GolfBet for PGATOUR.COM
- Aaron Wise is flying under the radar entering the Travelers Championship. (Sam Grreenwood/Getty Images)
Aaron Wise (+6600) … Because, well, golf, in recent starts when he was a Sleeper (Valero Texas Open) and in the Power Rankings (AT&T Byron Nelson), he’s made the cut but underperformed. However, sprinkled around those Lone Star State stops was a T9 at Quail Hollow, a T17 at Kiawah Island and a T9 at Muirfield Village in what was his most recent. With crisp irons that have him eighth on the PGA TOUR in greens hit and contribute to his position of 23rd in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, it’s no wonder why his game travels. He got his first taste of the race track that is TPC River Highlands with four sub-70s a year ago, but he settled for a share of 46th place. With that experience and his recent surge, he’s expected to improve on that result to punctuate his birthday week. He turned 25 on Monday.
Talor Gooch (+12500) … No matter his odds or his Official World Golf Ranking (70th), when you slot as a Sleeper for the fifth time in a season, it means you’re either doing enough to warrant persistent attention or not doing enough to climb the ladder. Or both. The 29-year-old last landed inside this focus at the AT&T Byron Nelson and finished T39. It’s among 17 cuts made in 23 starts this season. With three top 10s and another four top 20s, including in his last two starts, he’s 54th in the FedExCup. He’s also 93 starts and deep into fourth season on the PGA TOUR career without a victory. He hasn’t come close at TPC River Highlands where he’s 0-for-2, but he’s back for more with one of the most balanced skill sets in the field and, frankly, only one objective – to win.
C.T. Pan (+15000) … It was just a month ago that he appeared here for the Charles Schwab Challenge and finished T32. It’s one of four consecutive paydays that have fortified his position to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs. Currently 95th in points with a pair of top 10s among five top 25s, he has to picks his spots because he’ll never win a long-drive contest. Not that he can’t hold his own, but a sub-6,900 yard walk like TPC River Highlands presents as more gettable prey for his sharper skills to attack. He placed T8 here in 2017 and T25 in his debut in 2015.
David Lipsky (+15000) … This is a bonus start thanks to a T8 in what was a bonus start at Congaree via a sponsor exemption two weeks ago. He’s seventh on the Korn Ferry Tour points list, so the well-traveled 32-year-old is playing on the equivalent of house FedExCup points before he’ll compete for official points as a PGA TOUR rookie in 2021-22. In the expanded 2020-21 KFT season, he’s recorded one win and a trio of runner-up finishes among six top 10s and a dozen top 25s.
Austin Eckroat (+25000) … After Davis Thompson (RSM) and John Pak (Palmetto) missed the cuts in their Sleepers debuts, it stands to reason that the third member of what could evolve into a memorable Class of 2021 is the charm, although Eckroat also missed the cut at the Valero in his appearance in this space that week. Each is among PGA TOUR University’s top five that has fully exempt status on the Korn Ferry Tour this summer, but only Eckroat is doing damage early on. In his professional debut two weeks ago, he finished seventh at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation where he led the field in putting. He then chased it with a T13 in Wichita with another superb performance on the greens. The Oklahoma State product will need to dial in his irons at TPC River Highlands to give his wand a chance, but he ranked T4 in greens in regulation en route to a T12 at Mayakoba last fall where roommate and former OSU teammate Viktor Hovland prevailed.
Odds were sourced on Tuesday, June 22 at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
NOTE: Sleeper is a relative term, so Rob uses unofficial criteria to determine who qualifies. Each of the following usually is determined to be ineligible for this weekly staple: Winners of the tournament on the current host course; winners in the same season; recent major champions; top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking; recent participants of team competitions.