2021 Travelers Championship Preview

By Harris Oates and John White

Travelers Championship | TPC River Highlands | Cromwell, CT

Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson (-19; won by 1 stroke over Kevin Streelman)

FedEx Cup Points: 500

Past Champions

2019: Chez Reevie

2018: Bubba Watson

2017: Jordan Spieth

2016: Russell Knox

2015: Bubba Watson

History of the Tournament

Despite several name changes, the tournament formally known as the Travelers Championship has been a staple on tour since 1952. It was originally established as the Insurance City Open and has endured many other changes since, however, the tournament has stayed in the Hartford, Connecticut area since its inception. It has frequently been rated as one of the top events on tour by the players in terms of hospitality, attendance and course condition. The tournament is the second-most-attended event on the PGA Calendar behind just the Waste Management Open.

Another change that the tournament has endured since 1952 is the golf course. Originally the tournament was held at Wethersfield Country Club, which is just 5 miles north of TPC River Highlands. In 1984 the PGA purchased Edgewood Country Club and completely redesigned the course into what is now known as TPC River Highlands. At the time it was just the 3rd TPC course around but now is one of the top out of the 30+ around. TPC River Highlands usually favors the long hitters as we have seen DJ and Bubba have a ton of success, however, guys like Spieth have done just fine.

Greatest Moments

Jordan Spieth from the Bunker

In 2017, Jordan Spieth found himself in a playoff with Daniel Berger and won in dramatic fashion with a hole out from the bunker.

Streelman’s Magic

Kevin Streelman finished his 4th round by birdieing a record setting final 7 holes en route to victory. He finished the tournament with a solid 64-64 finish through the weekend.

Furyk’s 58

In 2016, Jim Furyk got hot and finished with a PGA Tour Record 58 (-12).

Course Breakdown

TPC River Highlands is one of the shortest courses on the tour at just 6,800 yards, however, it is notoriously one of the best conditioned courses on the circuit. The course is a Par 70 and is made up of mostly short Par 4s and just two Par 5s. All but 1 of the 12 Par 4s are under 450 yards, with several that are reachable off the tee. The course has a slope rating of 131 and a course rating of 72.7 and was originally designed by Robert J. Ross and Maurice Kearney before undergoing redesigns from Pete Dye and Bobby Weed in the 1980s. As most of the shorter courses on tour typically are, TPC River Highlands is a bombers paradise, however, big hitters must be careful with the slim fairways and many perfectly placed bunkers.

Field

Not the best field ever but very solid.

Weather

Source: Weather.com

Might feel like the U.K. but no serious storms rolling through.

The Favorites

Dustin Johnson 12-1
Bryson DeChambeau 12-1
Brooks Koepka 14-1
Paul Casey 16-1
Patrick Cantlay 16-1
Scottie Scheffler 22-1
Patrick Reed 25-1
Tony Finau 28-1

Dustin Johnson 12-1

Johnson is the defending champion, and as mentioned above, this course is a bombers paradise. Johnson has the perfect skillset to win this event again.

Bryson DeChambeau 12-1

Bryson had an all-time meltdown last weekend at the U.S. Open where he posted a back nine 44 but he should bounce back as the true professional he is. This is one of the few courses on tour where he can pretty much get away with being as aggressive as possible.

Brooks Koepka 14-1

Bryson’s buddy Brooksy comes in as the third ranked favorite this week due to his bomb and chip mentality. If Brooks has his wedges working he could add to his short list of non major wins.

Paul Casey 18-1

Casey hasn’t won much on tour lately but he has been buzzing with top 10s. Casey has 4 top 5s in his career in this event, will he finally get his first win in Cromwell?

Patrick Cantlay 16-1

Cantlay has been hot and won just two weeks ago, not to mention he previously set the course record of 60 when he was a 19 year old amateur. Not a bad pick.

Scottie Scheffler 22-1

Scheffler is having a wonderful start to his young career and has had three top 10s in his last four events. Could he pick up his first career win this weekend?

The Pick

Patrick Cantlay. We saw it last year…this is the time of the season where guys get hot. Last year it was Daniel Berger in the early summer followed by hot-streaks from JT and DJ. Could Cantlay, who is the world number 7, pick up his second win in three weeks? We say yes.


John’s Take

As we go from one side of the country to the other, the Travelers Championship is living up to its name. TPC River Highlands will surely be an easier course than US Open’s Torrey Pines but we still expect a tight leaderboard this week. In the previous 9 out of 11 Traveler championships, the winner has won by only one stroke. 

The defending champ, Dustin Johnson, is the favorite to win this week. You all know my opinion on picking the previous champion… Don’t do it. The odds are just not favorable. Instead, I am looking at Patrick Cantlay. His Strokes gained off the tee and par 4 stats show that he has what it takes to bring home the trophy.  He is number one in the world for par 4s (before the US Open) and this course has more par 4s than a majority of other courses on tour. I would be shocked if Patrick is not in the top 15 this week. 

My favorite sleeper pick is Emiliano Grillo. Even though he does not have the distance off the tee, his strokes gained from approach shots puts him at #1 this week for the tournament. I was hesitant to include Emiliano this week but like I’ve said… Stats don’t lie. His low salary of 7,300 makes him a definite pick in nearly all of my lineups.  I am very excited to see how Grillio places this week.

Our stats have definitely changed after the US Open but I feel confident in the numbers. 

Due to a short course this week (6,841 yards) look for distance off the tee to set up players for scoring positions. Each year, big hitters find themselves on the leaderboard. I do not expect this year to be any different.  

2021 Season Driving Distance (Players in Travelers Tournament)

1. Bryson DeChambeau (323.5)

2. Wyndham Clark (315.9)

3. Will Gordon (315.4)

4. Matthew Wolff (315.3)

5. Dustin Johnson (314.1)

6. Joaquin Niemann (312.8) 

7. Dylan Frittelli (310.2)

8. Ryan Brehm (309.9)

9. Brooks Koepk (309.1)

10. Joseph Bramlett (308.40) 

2020 TPC River Highlands Distance Off Tee 

1. Bryson DeChambeau (320.1) 

2. Ryan Brehm (314.7) 

3. Grayson Murray (314.2)

4. Bubba Watson (313.9)

5. Scottie Scheffler (311.5) 

There are only 2 par 5’s on the course this week so whoever dominates the Par 4s will be on the leaderboard. 

Strokes Gained – Par 4 Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+34.6) (+1600) 
  2. Abraham Ancer (+31.3) (+2800)
  3. Cameron Tringale (+30.3) (+9000)
  4. Emiliano Grillo (+26.7) (+7000)
  5. Patrick Reed (+25.3) (+2200)

TPC River Highlands is comparatively shorter than other courses on tour. That being said, longer irons will not come into play as much as your shorter irons. Take a look at short game approach stats below. 

Strokes Gained – Approach Over Past 24 Rounds (Including US Open) 

  1. Emiliano Grillo (+34.1) (+7000)
  2. Paul Casey (+30.0) (+1800)
  3. Stewart Cink (+25.1 (+10000)
  4. Brooks Koepka (+23.3) (+1800)
  5. Russell Henley (+20.5) (+5500)

John White’s favorites to win 

1. Patrick Cantlay (10,400)

2. Matthey Wolff (9,300)

3. Scottie Scheffler (9,600)

Wildcard Picks 

1. Emiliano Grillo (7,300)

2. Abraham Ancer (9,100)

3. Paul Casey (9,900)

Favorite Lineup 

1. Patrick Cantlay (10,400)

2. Abraham Ancer (9,100)

3. Emiliano Grillo (7,300)

4. Stewart Cink (7,300) 

5. Cameron Tringale (7,600)

6. Russell Henley (8,300) 

0 remaining salary out of 50,000 

*DFS stands for Daily Fantasy Sports and is a fantasy format that uses a salary cap style of picking a lineup. The salary cap figures are fictional and in no way represent real money or currency.

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