This week, the PGA Tour is at TPC River Highlands for the Traveler’s Championship
While River Highlands is ranked as One of the Player’s favourite courses on Tour every year, it is also one of the shortest – coming in at just 6,841 yards – Nearly 1000 yards less than last week at Erin Hills
So basically, expect a ton of birdies with wide rolling fairways, good sight lines, and small greens. It’s a Par 70, which limits scoring a touch – but still, usually between 15 and 20 under is the winning score.
Last year, it became the site of the TOUR’s first 58, from Jim Furyk, and Russell Knox held off Jerry Kelly for his second PGA TOUR victory, though that kinda became secondary behind Furyk’s 58 a couple hours earlier.
Furyk used six birdies and an eagle to fire a front-nine 27, then started his back nine with three more birds. One more at the par-3 16th put him in line for the 58, and two more pars completed the job.
Since the course is short, all types of players have a chance to win here. A quick look at the Past 5 Winners shows anyone can win: Russell Knox, Bubba Watson, Kevin Streelman, Ken Duke and Marc Leishman; a mixture of bombers and precision guys.
Also – The last 7 Years straight – and 9 of the last 10 – The tourney has either gone into a Playoff or been decided by a Single Stroke on the 72nd Hole – So its always tight. Part of the reason for this: the birdie chances. There are even two drive-able Par-4’s at the 2nd & 15th holes. The finishing stretch however, is pretty tough. 16-18 aren’t scoring holes, and the 17th is the hardest on the course. This, is due to the water. A large 4 acre lake outlines the closing stretch and to navigate 17 you must take on the aqua twice
That said, it is really anyone’s tournament that’s sitting within 5 shots of the lead come Sunday. Last year Jim Furyk was completely out of the tournament going into Sunday; he walked off the 18th green in a tie for 5th. When Kevin Streelman won here, he fired a back nine 28 to close it out. Basically, the setup of the back nine with a driveable par 4 keeps the tournament interesting all the way to the end and the closing stretch of holes should provide plenty of excitement. All in all, expect to see several guys go really low and the leaderboard endure a ton of turnover
Favourites & My Picks
The field, due to it being such a fun course to play, is really good
Rory McIlroy and Jason Day come in off missed cuts, but still, are Top-5 ranked guys in the world. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Paul Casey are on site as well, meaning five of the top 15 players in the latest world rankings are present.
So those are the favourites in terms of Name and Status
Of the big names, I personally, like Paul Casey the most
- Casey comes in with 10 straight cuts made, was in contention last weekend at the US Open before a bit of a rough Sunday, but still finished 26th and was 10th in his start before that
- He finished 17th and 2nd in his last two starts in Connecticut, and his combination of Good play off the tee and really strong Approach game – 3rd in Strokes Gained Approaching the Green this year – Sets him up well for TPC River Highlands
Of the Middle of the pack guys I really like Brendan Steele this week
- Another guy that was in contention last weekend, finishing 13th; Brendan has Made the cut in all 12 events he has played this year – and as I mentioned earlier, pretty much anyone that makes the weekend has a chance to win – Plus Brendan has finished in the top-25 the last 4 times in this event, including a 5th and a 13th. With the course being a par-70 and predominantly Par-4’s, his ranking 6th in Par-4 Scoring Average this year is the cherry on top if still looking for reasons why I like him this week
And a sleeper. Well, I’ll give you a couple I like this week.
- Graham DeLaet – He has two top-5’s in his last three starts here, as well as a 10th in his last PGA Tour start
- Charley Hoffman – while not exactly a sleeper, he comes in playing really well. An 8th at the US Open, paired with finishes of 25th, 26th and 7th is his last 3 starts here.
- Chez Reavie – Definitely a sleeper – Finished 16th last weekend and 4th the week before. and if you’re going by Stats – his game shapes up nicely for this type of course. He is 4th in Good Drive %, 31st in Par-4 Scoring Average, and 41st in Strokes Gained: Approach
What do you think??