After last weekend’s stellar U.S. Open, we now head to Cromwell, Connecticut, for the Travelers Championship. Unlike most weeks after a Major Championship, we will have a very star-studded field competing at TPC River Highlands. Nine of the top 20 players in the world are set to participate this weekend, including Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and last week’s winner Brooks Koepka.
TPC River Highlands is a super short 6,841-yard Par 70 but don’t let the yardage confuse you. The course is a Pete Dye designed-course, and when you see Dye’s name as the course constructor, you know it isn’t going to be easy. The greens are Poa with a mix of Bentgrass and up until last year had been known to be extremely slow before the renovation. All of that changed last season, though. In the second year post-renovation, the greens at TPC River Highlands ran fast and made putting much more critical. No longer were inferior putters able to negate the disadvantage they had on the greens. And that isn’t to say that you have to be a historically great putter to win, but you do need to have a hot putting week to contend now. Eight of the 12 par-fours measure between 400 to 450 yards, which means players can pick their distance off the tee and decide what yardage they want for their second shot. There are only two par-fives on the course, but they are holes that need to be taken advantage of when you get to them.
Key Stats For The Week:
Par 4 400-450 Yards- 20%
Strokes Gained Par 5-15%
Strokes Gained Off the Tee-15%
My Pick to Win
Full disclosure on this pick, I don’t think Patrick Reed is bettable at 16/1, and this isn’t some recommendation to bet Reed at his shallow price. What it is, though, is a strong lean that Reed is going to have a good showing and should be around with a chance to capture the title on Sunday. Win equity and outright price don’t always coincide with one another. Reed’s real win equity is probably closer to three percent, which should put him in the vicinity of 33/1. His current outright price of 16/1 puts him more in the territory of having to win this tournament 6.25 percent of the time to be profitable, and that just isn’t correct value. Aside from the mathematical logistics of why Reed isn’t a good outright bet, lets instead look at why he is an excellent play for DraftKings, head to head wagers and One and Done contests. In Reed’s last 24 rounds compared to the field, he ranks fourth in strokes gained on par-fives, fifth in strokes gained tee to green, eighth in birdies or better gained, 14th in par-four scoring between 400 to 450 yards and 17th in ball striking. Familiarity with TPC River Highlands should also suit Reed this week. Reed posted a T5 here last year and a T11 in 2016. Last but not least, I looked at Reed’s statistics on only Pete Dye courses. Once again he is stellar across the board. Looking at his previous 24 rounds on Pete Dye-designed courses and using the same statistics as before, he ranked second in strokes gained on par-fives, second in par-four scoring between 400 to 450 yards, 13th in strokes gained tee to green, 14th in ball striking, and 18th in birdies or better gained. For me, Reed is going to be my One and Done play for the week. He provides the consistency I am hoping for and still presents upside for victory, even if it isn’t at the right odds from an outright perspective.
Si Woo Kim (100/1)
Si Woo Kim is a Pete Dye specialist. In Kim’s career, he has played seven tournaments where all four of the rounds were held on a Pete Dye course. In those seven tournaments, Kim has never missed a cut and has provided six top-25 finishes, including a win at The Players Championship and a second-place at this year’s RBC Heritage. Kim has the sort of game that can win at any venue, and I refuse to miss the boat on him at a place that catches his eye.
Emiliano Grillo (70/1)
Emiliano Grillo, just like Si Woo Kim, is another player who is ideally suited for a Pete Dye course. In Grillo’s 17 rounds played previously on Pete Dye-designed courses, he ranks second in ball striking and third in strokes gained tee to green. If you take away Grillo’s missed cut at last week’s U.S. Open, he has provided 19 consecutive made cuts and nine top-25 finishes. 70/1 is a ridiculous price on the young Argentinian golfer. He has been bet down from that number at most places, but if you shop around at different markets, you can find some better prices still available on him.
Brendan Steele (80/1)
Brendan Steele comes into the week struggling as of late, but this is the perfect venue to get him back on track. Steele has made six of his seven cuts at TPC River Highlands and owns a 68.08 scoring average on Pete Dye-designed layouts. The 35-year-old ranks ninth in his last 24 rounds compared to the field in ball striking and 17th in strokes gained tee to green. His off the tee game is what really separates him from the pack, though. Steele ranks eighth on tour in strokes gained off the tee, and even though this isn’t a distance course, he ranks 14th in driving distance. Steele’s price is completely inflated based on his current spotty form, but theoretically, he should be closer to the 40/1 range in this field.
Chesson Hadley (125/1)
What in the world has happened to Chesson Hadley’s price? Weren’t we seeing him in the 40/1 range a couple of months ago? Maybe even less at some tournaments? The weirdest part is that Hadley’s decrease in odds doesn’t have a particularly good reason behind it. If you exclude his missed cut at the U.S. Open last week, Hadley had provided eight consecutive made cuts and six top-20 finishes. In Hadley’s most recent Pete Dye events, he had a T11 at The Players Championship and a T7 at the RBC Heritage. At his outrageous 125/1 price, count me in.
Ryan Moore (33/1)
It is hard to label a 33/1 bet as a sleeper, but I think that is precisely what Ryan Moore turns into when he is priced as low as he is on his outright number. Don’t get me wrong; I like Ryan Moore. Moore attended the University of Nevada Las Vegas, (UNLV), seven years before I started attending there, and because of that reason, I have always been well aware of him. He was a standout collegiate golfer and even won the NCAA individual title, but when you see Moore as low as 33/1 in a field, you know there must be a particular reason as to why. In Moore’s last three appearances at TPC River Highlands, he has produced a 17th, a fifth, and a seventh. Those are some gaudy finishes, but that alone wouldn’t put Moore at 33/1. I dug deeper and looked at Moore’s past 24 rounds compared to the field in my key stats for the week, and that is where the UNLV grad stuck out. Moore was ranked first in strokes gained tee to green, first in ball striking and second in par-four scoring between 400 to 450 yards. I expect him to be extremely popular on DraftKings and Fanduel, but I don’t think nearly as many people will be betting the 64th-ranked golfer in the world as an outright bet at such a low number. I haven’t locked a wager in on him yet, but I assume he is where I will be starting most of my betting cards.
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