Travelers Championship Predictions, Odds and PGA Best Bets
By Dave Shields
It was another great week on the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C. Webb Simpson had a blistering back 9 on Sunday to break out of the pack and win at 22-under. But going into the last few holes, there were a handful of players with a chance to win, including Abraham Ancer (21-under), Daniel Berger (20-under), Tyrell Hatton (20-under) and Joaquin Niemann (19-under).
Once again, there were no galleries, but it didnʻt affect the level of play, in fact, Simpson set a course record at the Harbour Town Golf Links.
This week, the tour heads north to Cromwell, Conn., near Hartford, for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. This is a 6,840-yard par 70 track that was built to handle the large galleries that flock to the event each year. Those galleries wonʻt be there this year so it will be a different feeling for golfers coming up to the Pete Dye and Bobby Weed re-designed amphitheater at hole No. 18. The final four holes, designed around a lake, make for a great test of golf. Stewart Cink called them “four of the most exciting finishing holes in a group anywhere in the world.”
Last Yearʻs Winner
Chez Reavie broke through last year to win for only the second time on the PGA Tour. It was his first win in 11 years on the tour. Reavie won rather easily, carding a final round 69 to finish 17-under, four shots ahead of Keegan Bradley and Zach Sucher.
This year, there are 156 players in the field, and once again, Tiger Woods is not among them. But there is a strong field coming to Cromwell, including world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is once again the favorite at 12-1. Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas are next at 14-1, followed by Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, and Webb Simpson at 20-1.
Other favorites include Patrick Cantlay (25-1), Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, and Justin Rose (28-1); Bubba Watson and Paul Casey (33-1); Abraham Ancer, Sung-Jae Im, and Collin Morikawa (35-1); Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed (40-1); Gary Woodland and Sergio Garcia (45-1); Marc Leishman, Joaquin Niemann, Tony Finau, and Matthew Fitzpatrick (50-1); and Viktor Hovland and J.T. Poston (66-1)
Picks for This Year
There are a few things to know about the Travelers Championship. One, Bubba Watson owns this course, having won it three times in the past 10 years. Two, you often see long shot winners here, like journeyman Ken Duke in 2013 and Peter Jacobson in 2003 at the end of his career. With that said, here are my top picks for the tournament.
Abraham Ancer (35-1). This is the perfect type of tournament to see this excellent young golfer break through and win it. The Travelers, and the former Greater Hartford Open, have a long history of seeing these types of breakout wins. Ancer has been knocking on the door, finishing second last week at RBC Heritage and posting four top 10s already this season. He has moved up to No. 24 in the world rankings and is primed for his first PGA Tour win. Last year at the Travelers, he finished tied for 8th at 10-under, so heʻs already had success here. I like him to win outright.
Joaquin Niemann (50-1). Like Ancer, this is another exciting young player who is knocking on the door of his first PGA Tour win. Last week, the 21-year-old finished in a tie for 4th place at 19-under. And last year at this very course, TPC River Highlands, the then 20-year unknown from Chile, finished tied for 5th at 11-under. Like Ancer, he knows he can win here and gained a lot of confidence last week at the RBC Heritage.
Bubba Watson (33:1). How can you not go with Watson here? The guy has dominated on this course, winning three times in the last 10 years. Plus, Bubba is playing well right now. He has three top 10s this season, including a No. 7 finish two weeks ago at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Last week, his game was not suited for Harbour Town, but we know he loves this course, so you know heʻll be in the mix.
First-round action begins Thursday with the first tee off at 6:45 a.m.