Scott Shapiro's 2021 Travelers Championship preview
It will be impossible to top Jon Rahm’s final-round back nine at Torrey Pines that earned the Spaniard his first major championship Sunday, but the PGA Tour will move cross country this week for the 2021 Travelers Championship.
Despite the nearly 3,000 miles between courses and the event following one of the year’s premier tournaments, the field for the Travelers came up strong. Not only is 2020 PGA Tour Player of the Year Dustin Johnson back at TPC River Highlands to defend his title, but four of the other top nine players in the World Golf Ranking are also set to tee it off for what will likely be their final start before next month’s Open Championship at Royal St. George’s Golf Club.
Unlike Torrey Pines, which is one of the longer tracks PGA Tour players encounter each year, TPC River Highlands — located just outside of Hartford, Connecticut — measures just more than 6,800 yards. That does not take the “bombers” out of play this week, but it brings those who lack distance off the tee into the mix.
As often is the case, gaining strokes off the tee and via approach will be extremely important at the Travelers. Those statistics are weighted heavily in my model for the week, as is the ability to score on par 4s between 400 and 450 yards and to hit greens in regulation.
Despite an 8-over 44 on the back nine Sunday, in his quest to be the second golfer to win back-to-back U.S. Opens this century, Bryson DeChambeau is listed as the favorite in the outright market.
Travelers Championship 2021
Sun, June 27 2021, 7:59 PM
DeChambeau has never won the Travelers Championship, but he has shown an affinity for the short course in Cromwell, evidenced by his three consecutive top 10 finishes. The question is whether he can bounce back, after he coughed the lead up in such horrific fashion Sunday.
I am willing to gamble that DeChambeau will to struggle to regroup and that the other top-ranked players in the world — Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay, and Patrick Reed — will lack the concentration needed to win after such an intense event last week.
Instead, I will focus on a golfer who appears ready to break through and another who has just one win but is back in top form and poised for a big summer.
Outright odds: +2200
Top 5 odds: +500
The 25-year-old has contended consistently throughout his first couple years on the PGA Tour but has been unable to seal the deal. That could easily change this week, as the former University of Texas star enters the Travelers in fine form.
Over the last 24 rounds, Scheffler ranks seventh in the field in scoring on par 4s between 400 and 450 yards, first in birdies or better gained, and 15th in strokes gained ball striking.
He is dialed in.
Scheffler has finished in the top 10 in five of 15 starts this season, including an eighth-place effort at the PGA Championship, a third-place finish at the Memorial, and a seventh last week at Torrey Pines.
If he can putt as well as he did the last couple of weeks, he has a big shot to capture his first PGA Tour victory.
Outright odds: +6600
Top 10 odds: +600
It has been more than five years since the Argentinian ended a week on the PGA Tour at the top of the leaderboard, but his recent play suggests that could change soon.
The 28-year-old has three top 10 finishes over his last seven tournaments and sits atop my model this week at a juicy price.
Grillo ranks first in the field over the last 24 rounds in scoring on par 4s between 400 and 450 yards, third in greens in regulation, eighth in birdies or better, and sixth in strokes gained ball striking. Perhaps just as important, he is not consistently losing multiple strokes on the greens each week.
If he can continue to strike the ball at an elite level and knock down a few key putts, he can spring an upset this week in Connecticut.