Travelers Championship: McIlroy heads strong field at River Highlands

Our golf expert David Kristiansen tipped Webb Simpson at 29.00 last week, so can he continue his good form this weekend?

David Kristiansen

This weekend’s Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands is the first event on the revised PGA TOUR schedule that will take place in its original spot on the calendar.

The longtime event will feature a strong field that includes the top five golfers in the world and defending champion Chez Reavie.

All of the top 10 in the FedExCup standings are set to play at TPC River Highlands, including; Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, and Dustin Johnson, the top five players in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Meanwhile, recent Travelers champions, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Russell Knox, Kevin Streelman, and Marc Leishman join last year’s winner, Reavie, in the field.

Heritage recap

Webb Simpson

Both myself and Webb Simpson needed a week to get dialed in after the break it would seem, as final round 64 secured our third outright winner of the season and Webb his second win of the year.

Sunday was some of the most captivating golf I have seen in a long time with many of the best in the business racking up birdies in the setting sun around the immaculate Harbour Town course.

Here are some of the storylines to keep an eye on going forward:

  • Is Webb Simpson a super-elite top 5 golfer or just best of the rest?
  • Koepka seems to have found his form again, will he start racking up regular tour wins like he has done majors?
  • Dustin Johnson falls out of the top 5 in the world for the first time in four years, does he have a resurgence in him, or will he keep slipping down the rankings?


Max Homa

Course: TPC River Highlands
Length: 6841 yards (Par 70)
Greens: Poa (With bentgrass mixed in)
Opened: 1928
Architect: Robert J. Ross and Maurice Kearney. Pete Dye redesign in 1984

For the third week in a row, we head to a tournament that gets a massive boost in field strength thanks to the break. With Simpson jumping up to number five in the world we have the seven players on the top of the world ranking teeing it up this week in Connecticut.

TPC River Highlands is another track where the shorter hitters have an opportunity to upset the bombers, but the driver will not be negated to as large a degree as last week with wider fairways and fewer penalty areas than Harbour Town.

The stats show that unlike last week the off the tee game should be given more relevance here. Compared to tour averages the golfers hits more fairways and greens, while the scrambling percentage is right around tour average.

The greens are average-sized poa annua with some bent in them.

With only two par 5s at this par 70 track par 4 scoring increases in importance and it’s worth noting that seven of the holes fall in the 400-450 range which in turn leads to most approach shots coming from the 125-175 yard range.

Expect a winning score around the -20 mark if the weather forecast doesn’t turn ugly.

Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:

  • Strokes gained approach
  • Strokes gained off the tee
  • Proximity 125-175 yards
  • Par 4 scoring between 400-450 yards
  • Opportunities gained
  • Poa putting

2019/20 Season overview:

Wagered: 116.1 units
Won: 184.46 units
Result: + 68.36 units
Outright winners: Hero World Challenge: Henrik Stensson 25-1, Farmers Insurance Open: Marc Leishman 50-1, RBC Heritage: Webb Simpson 29-1


Marc Leishman
0.75pts EW (1/5 the odds 6-places)

After winning this event almost a decade ago the Australian has had four other top 20 finishes, so he enjoys it here.

He missed the cut at the Charles Schwab but in doing so he gained 4 shots on approach, so a little tweaking with other parts of his game in the week he took off should set him up nicely for a run this week.

He ranks 4th in par 4 scoring 400-450 yards, 9th on approach and 15th in proximity from 150-175 yards over the last 50 rounds. He can also get scorching hot on poa greens as he did when gaining 8 strokes on the way to his Farmers victory in January.

Max Homa
0.5pt EW (1/5 the odds 6-places)

Homa said on his podcast on Monday that he had never hit the ball better than last week and when we look at the stats that seems to be true.

He gained almost 10 strokes off the tee and on approach combined but could not chip and putt to save his life.

Now back on a course where the around the green game is of less significant and on the putting surface he grew up on in California it seems like a good spot for us to throw a few bucks on the one-time tour winner.

How to watch

Sky Sports are showing live Featured Group coverage from 12:45 on Thursday and Friday, with full coverage beginning at 21:00 (UK and Ireland time) for the first two days. The third and fourth round live coverage begins at 18:00 on Saturday and Sunday.

*Odds subject to change

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