2019 Travelers Championship Picks, Rankings, Sleepers, PreviewPat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2019 Travelers Championship Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from TPC River Highlands.
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2019 Travelers Championship Open FieldField: 156 Players | Top 70 and Ties Make the Cut
First Tee: Thursday, June 20 at 7 a.m. ET
Defending Champion: Bubba Watson
Chartered flight or not, the trip from Pebble Beach to Cromwell, Connecticut ain’t quick. Regardless, many of the top names you saw on the weekend at the US Open are making the pilgrimage to the Northeast for the 2019 Travelers Championship: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay, Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, Tommy Fleetwood, Kevin Kisner, Marc Leishman, Phil Mickelson, Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth and two-time TPC River Highlands runner-up Paul Casey all will be in the field.
Kyle Stanley, Cameron Smith, Chez Reavie, Byeong-Hun An, Abraham Ancer, Daniel Berger, Harris English, Emiliano Grillo, Chesson Hadley, Tom Hoge, Carlos Ortiz, Andrew Putnam, Alex Prugh, Sepp Straka and Nick Taylor also are among the competitors who played all 72 holes last week at Pebble Beach.
Now, California to the Hartford suburbs isn’t a quick flight, so maybe getting there early could be a leg up. There are three big-name talents who gave their best last week at the national championship and ended up slamming the trunk of their complimentary rent-a-car Friday afternoon: Justin Thomas, Tony Finau and defending, and three-time Travelers winner, Bubba Watson. Keegan Bradley, Lucas Glover, JB Holmes, Matt Jones, Si Woo Kim, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Aaron Baddeley, Joel Dahmen, Julian Etulain, Patton Kizzire, Anirban Lahiri, KH Lee, CT Pan, Ollie Schniederjans and Brian Stuard also will be lurking the grounds after failing to make the cut at the US Open.
A few notables who were forced into a bye week after failing to earn a spot in the field a week ago: Jason Kokrak, Sungjae Im, Cameron Champ, Adam Hadwin, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Sung Kang, Russell Knox, Ryan Moore, Trey Mullinax, Joaquin Niemann, Sam Ryder, Adam Schenk, JJ Spaun, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, Harold Varner and Nick Watney are coming in fresh.
That’s all great, but a lot of the focus is going to be squarely on Viktor Hovland; the now-former No. 1-ranked amateur making his debut on the PGA TOUR as a professional. The 21-year-old Norwegian heads to Cromwell following a T21 finish at The Masters earlier this season; then setting the scoring record for amateurs over the weekend at the US Open. He got beaucoup TV time all week, playing the first two rounds in a featured group, posting one of the best scores Sunday, then getting a solo interview post-round where the Stoned Rory nickname was born. Expectations are high for this week. And he certainly has the game to go full Jon Rahm, Bryson or Niemann and start challenging for victories immediately. But all this attention could be detrimental to his game, and it allows three other recent former amateurs to slide under the radar sans any pressure: Two L Collin Morikawa, Justin Suh and Matthew Wolff.
Morikawa turned pro following the Memorial a few weeks back, and now he’s not only made the cut at consecutive national opens, but churned out solid finishes: T14 at the Canadian Open; T35 at the US Open. Suh went pro before the Memorial and went the route of a lot of new players who are now playing for a paycheck: He missed the cut. He did gain strokes T2G versus the field at Muirfield Village but lost more than two strokes putting in two rounds. The Wolff man is the big winner with all the Hovland attention, though. Because he deserves the same recognition. Crazy Swing won six of his final 11 college events and made some noise earlier this season at the Waste Management Open with his crazy-looking swing. The No. 2-ranked amateur behind Hovland, he’s LONGGGGGG off the tee and has a shot to immediately contend at some of these birdie-fests. Like Travelers.
2019 Travelers Championship: Key StatsStrokes Gained: Ball Striking
Par 4s Gained: 400-450 Yards
Par 5s Gained
2019 Travelers Championship: CourseCourse: TPC River Highlands
Greens: Poa Annua (with Bentgrass)
Par 5 Eagles in 2018: 33
Rank: 25/451 (-0.405) in 2018 Difficulty
2019 Travelers Championship: Past Winners2018: Bubba Watson -17
2017: Jordan Spieth -12
2016: Russell Knox -14
2015: Bubba Watson -16
2014: Kevin Streelman -15
2013: Ken Duke -12
2012: Marc Leishman -14
2011: Freddy Jacobson -20
2010: Bubba Watson -14
2019 Travelers Championship: NotesWhile this is a Pete Dye track, there has been considerable crossover between the top of the leaderboards of the Valspar Championship and Riviera over the years. And it goes beyond Bubba Watson, who has won at Riviera and the TPC River Highlands three times apiece. Paul Casey has experienced success at all three. Kevin Streelman has won the Valspar and the Travelers in his career. JB Holmes just won at the Genesis this season and posted a T2 on this site a year ago.
Paul Casey, Bubba Watson, Brendan Steele, Charley Hoffman and Brian Harman have gained the most strokes at the Travelers Championship over the past five years.
Casey, Hoffman, Bryson DeChambeau, Kevin Tway, Brooks Koepka, Keegan Bradley, Vaughn Taylor, Daniel Berger and Tony Finau have never missed the cut at TPC River Highlands in a minimum of three starts. Jordan Spieth, Francesco Molinari, Cameron Smith, Mac Hughes, Emiliano Grillo, Fabian Gomez, Russell Henley and Beau Hossler are a perfect two-for-two.
There are eight Par 4s measuring between 400-450 yards.
Players hit almost 67 percent of fairways at TPC River Highlands, compared to the 61 percent TOUR average. Approaches are staggered mostly between 125 and 175 yards, with very few coming from 175 to 200 yards. It’s a wedge-fest.
TPC River Highlands is the second shortest course in the regular PGA TOUR rotation, trailing only Pebble Beach.
The 296-yard Par 4 15th generated eight eagles in 2018; nine in 2017. Historically, more than 95% of the field will attack the green off the tee. It is the second shortest Par 4 on TOUR after No. 16 at Sheshan.
At one point, the Bentgrass greens played as some of the slowest on TOUR, even garnering the elusive “velcro” label from FantasyNational.com in 2012. That changed two years ago, however. Now two years with Poa Annua putting surfaces, the greens have ran fast compared to other PGA events.
Pete Dye Courses on The PGA Tour
TPC Sawgrass (The Players Championship)
Harbour Town (RBC Heritage)
TPC River Highlands (Travelers Championship)
TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic)
Austin Country Club (WGC Match Play)
TPC Stadium Course at La Quinta (Two rounds at The CareerBuilder)
Crooked Stick (2012/2016 BMW Championship)
Whistling Straits (2015, 2010, 2005 PGA Championship)
Kiawah Island (2012 PGA Championship)
2019 Travelers Championship Picks — Targets From Each RangeAdam Hadwin
Following a mid-season lull where the Canadian never finished better than T33 (with a pair of missed cuts), Hadwin appears to be rounding back into form at a track suited perfectly to his skill set. He historically has performed well at Riviera and Copperhead before this year, with his lone PGA victory coming at the Valspar; and his ball striking deficiencies have righted themselves again. In his struggles after Pebble Beach in February, Hadwin lost strokes on approach in five consecutive events, losing strokes around the green and putting in four of them. Quite atypical. Since the Wells Fargo, however, old Hadwin as retuned. He’s gained in all four strokes gained metrics in three of past four events and finished inside the Top 11 of SG: T2G in two of his past three starts — fourth at the Canadian Open; 11th at the PGA Championship.
Did Grillo waste his best week of the season at the US Open? Potentially. Grillo was second in the field, trailing only Martin Kaymer, and tied with winner Gary Woodland, with +8.4 SG: APP. He just happened to lose a pitiful -6.3 strokes putting. Even for Grillo that’s unusual. (Patrick Reed and Kyle Stanley were other big gainers in ball striking who couldn’t drain a putt all week btw). That all gets lost in his T58 finish, though. Still, Grillo has missed just a lone cut all season and was riding three straight Top 25 finishes before heading to Pebble Beach. He’s never missed the weekend in two starts at the Travelers, sits third in SG: Ball Striking over the past 24 rounds and 15th in scoring on Par 4s from 400-450 yards. If you can get an average-to-lucky week on the greens, Grillo will return substantial value.
Missed the cut at this track a year ago, after three straight Top 20s, including a pair of Top 10s, and heads to Cromwell with his game, like Hadwin, slowly returning to its career baseline. Per www.fantasynational.com, Moore sits 13th in this field in SG: APP over the past 24 rounds and ranks Top 10 in the field in Par 4s 400-450 yards, SG: T2G, and SG: APP over his past 100 rounds. So, both long and short term, the approach game is on point. Lately, the issue has been the driver. He’s bled strokes to the field off the tee in three straight. That could be course dependent, though. Trinity Forest, Bethpage Black and Muirfield Village aren’t exactly courses that scream Ryan Moore. In the three events preceding that troika — Heritage, Valero, Valspar — Moore gained an average of +1.53 SG: OTT. Strangely, gaining so few strokes with his driver at TPC River Highlands actually would be an outlier for Moore; he’s gained an average of +2.86 SG: OTT in his past five Travelers starts.
Currently the owner of the longest cuts made streak on TOUR (probably a kiss of death), there’s a distinct possibility Kokrak missed his winning window during his hot stretch from March through the end of April. But in a stacked field like this, he doesn’t need to win to return value. And there’s a chance TPC River Highlands might fit his eyes. He’s made four of five career cuts at the Travelers, has consecutive Top 10 finishes at the Valspar and has made his past five weekends at Riviera, with Top 25 finishes three of the past four years. He bottomed out on the weekend at Memorial, but now has had two weeks off to recharge and possesses the exact ball striking prowess to contend again this week.
Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay, Kevin Streelman, Paul Casey, Justin Thomas, Byeong-Hun An, Nick Watney
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Podcast of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award, and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2019 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year). His 17 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.