After a week in Los Angeles, we head to the northeast for The Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. Who is primed for a let-down after last week’s US Open? WagerTalk golf handicapper Andy Lang shares his thoughts on this week’s field with betting tips, DFS recommendations and players to avoid.
TPC River Highlands
We move to a course that doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. It’s a par-70 that doesn’t favor one part of the game, although it will ultimately come down to who makes the most birdie putts as the course is a bit easy with not a ton of defense. There are two par-5’s – One is reachable in two for everyone, the other is reachable in two for the longer hitters in the field. There are five par-4’s that are around 420 yards or less. So take those par 5’s, par 4’s and add the par 3’s and we can see that there are a lot of shorter iron approaches if you’re hitting fairways.
The rough around the green is always top-10 toughest every year so missing greens and a sloppy short game can take away birdie opportunities. Video flyovers of the holes at PGA golf courses should be mandatory as last week I could do detailed breakdowns of holes based on the awesome videos that LACC put out there, but TPC River Highlands gets a D- as they have a video that’s five years old on Youtube, and on their website they only feature four holes…the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th.
I can’t give the most detailed breakdowns of the holes, but here are my three favorite:
- Hole #2…341 Par 4-I love short Par 4’s as the strategy (or lack thereof) tells you everything you need to know about a golfer. It’s a thin green with bunkers and trees involved, and layups need to be positioned correctly in the fairways, but players can try and drive the green in one. This is a big risk or reward hole right at the start of the round as you can birdie it easily with a good tee shot, but if you go for the big tee shot and miss, you’ll be looking at bogey or worse.
- Hole #13…523 yard Par 5-This should be the easiest hole this week as a decent drive in the fairway will allow everyone to go for it in two. The winner of the tournament will probably play this hole in -3 or -4 so making a par will be a disappointment.
- Hole #15…296 yard Par 4-If you drive the ball straight, you’ll have a fairly guaranteed birdie, but there is sand on one side of the fairway and water on the other side so it’s feast or famine off the tee. If the leaderboard is packed on Sunday, this will be the hole that could shake things up. o
Travelers Championship Field
Let’s take a look at the top-10 in this week’s field for Total Strokes Gained in 2023:
1. Scottie Scheffler
2. Jon Rahm
3. Xander Schauffele
4. Patrick Cantlay
5. Rory McIlroy
6. Rickie Fowler
7. Viktor Hovland
8. Collin Morikawa
9. Wyndham Clark
10. Tony Finau
Travelers Championship Players to Avoid
Scottie Scheffler – On a course that demands great putting to win, I have to rule out Scottie Scheffler. We know he’s going to hit fairways and greens, and his drives will be long and his approaches will be accurate, but if he can’t make those putts, he’s not going to win this week. He’s -0.57 in Strokes Gained putting the last 30 days, and with this tournament giving up a lot of birdies to hot putters, I can’t invest in him as the favorite this week. He would have to finish top-2 to return any value, I think he comes up short of that.
Rickie Fowler – Fowler might be a bit out of sorts this week after a big emotional let-down on Sunday, and as good as he’s been this year, I’m staying away from him. He’s missed the cut the last two tourneys here, and I know his putting is lights-out this year, but this will be five tourneys in six weeks for him and it has the makings of tourney he isn’t 100-percent invested in.
Wyndham Clark – It’s a pretty obvious let down spot for Clark as he comes off the US Open win. He’s priced as a top-10 golfer this week, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he misses the cut. It was a very emotional win for him last week so a big energy let-down is highly possible, and on top of that, he doesn’t play good here as he’s finished 35th, MC, MC the last three years. Stay away from the newly-crowned US Open champion.
Travelers Championship DFS Darlings
Justin Suh ($7,200) – He’s made the cut four straight weeks, and six out of seven. He is +1.09 in Strokes Gained putting in the last 30 days.
Austin Eckroat ($7,300) – He’s been good recently making the cut in six-straight tourneys, and he was 10th last week, 30th, 16th and 2nd the weeks before that. He is No. 12 in total Strokes Gained the last 30 days in this field.
Eric Cole ($7,300) – He’s been a DFS cash machine and a head-to-head matchup cash machine. He’s made five cuts in the last six weeks for the rookie, and finished 39th last week at The US Open.
Rest Of The Lineup: Tom Kim ($8,100); Viktor Hovland ($9,900) and Patrick Cantlay ($10,200)
Travelers Championship Best Bet
Matthew Fitzpatrick -120 over Wyndham Clark
Fitzpatrick has been great the last three weeks finishing 17th, 20th, and 9th, and last time Wyndham Clark won at the Wells Fargo, he took a week off and then came back and missed the cut at The PGA Championship. That’s his only missed cut of the season. So playing a week after winning the US Open I think is going to be really tough for him. I wanted to fade him this week and Fitzpatrick is a good opponent.