2017 PGA Travelers Championship Preview and Prediction
by Scores & Statson
By Doug Upstone
The week after a golf major is usually time for many PGA pros to hit the reboot button, thinking about how they performed and getting ready for the British Open if choose to fly over the pond, as well as Top 10 finishes before the PGA Championship.
This is typically is an off-week for many of the top players, but at last listing, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Jason Day (1st timer) are committed to play in the Hartford, CT area.
After the stress of the U.S. Open, this is the type of course many pros like to play, because birdie opportunities are plentiful. Things didn't look too stressful for Brooks Koepka on the back 9 on Sunday. See the recap of the US Open.
The Golf Course Setup
The TPC River Highlands should play a little under 6,900 yards, with a par of 70. Yardage-wise, that is short by PGA standards, yet there are several examples of this course presenting risk/reward scenarios.
One of our favorites is No.15, a par 4 checking in at 300 yards, or a little under depending on the tee box and it is certainly is drivable, setting up eagle or even hole-in-one possibilities. Of course there is trouble if the golfer has an errant shot and a bogie creates a mess. Given many pros will be scoring birdies leaving the potential of a two-shot swing.
No. 18th is 444 yards and has amphitheater setting like other TPC courses around the country. The fans, in terms of having fun, might be only second to those at Phoenix Waste Management Open.
Top Contenders at the Travelers
The three aforementioned players have the lowest odds as one might imagine, given their level of skill. In order we have Spieth at 9/1, McIllroy at 10/1 and Day a 12/1 choice. Of this trio, Spieth would the better pick with five Top 10 finishes and coming around after missing three cuts in four tries in April and early May.
Justin Thomas shot a 63 last Saturday at Erin Hills and had to learn a painful lesson the next day with a 75. However, Thomas has seven Top 10 PGA finishes in 16 tries this season and when he turns on the birdie-machine, few can ring up low scores like he can and given how this course plays, the 24-year old at 14/1 odds is very tempting.
Other Golfers With Street Cred
Paul Casey has 10 Top 10 finishes and played well last week and can get tight to pins seeing he is fifth overall in greens in regulation. At 20/1, Casey should be a factor.
Brandt Snedeker (30/1) quietly finished 9th in Wisconsin this past weekend and though he missed cuts at the Byron Nelson and Genesis Opens, he's had five other Top 11 placements and he can string together birdies, especially on a shorter course like this.
Others that deserve further investigation are Marc Leishman (33/1) and Charley Hoffman (40-1), based on recent play and course setup. Bubba Watson is a 2-time champ (2015 and 2010) at the Travelers, yet is getting more respect then he deserves, with four missed cuts and a withdraw since February, with 33/1 odds.
And the Travelers Winner is....
Call me crazy but I like what Justin Thomas brings to this event to win, along with Brandt Snedeker and Paul Casey, and I will also use them in head to head battles once those odds are available.