2020 Travelers Championship Picks, Rankings, Sleepers, Preview
Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2020 Travelers Championship Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from TPC River Highlands.
Editor’s Note: the following golfers have withdrawn from the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship:
- Cameron Champ
- Graeme McDowell
- Brooks Koepka
- Webb Simpson
- Chase Koepka
The millionaire slate locks at 6:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, June 25. Set your lineups here: PGA TOUR $2.5M Millionaire [$1M to 1st]. DraftKings is also offering the Big Hit Millionaire bonus for the second week in a row, and you’ll be eligible to win tickets of various amounts, up to $20, depending on the score of the winning golfer this week. Check out the DraftKings promotions page to learn more.
2020 Travelers Championship: Show Index
2:24 Heritage Recap/Winners 17:17 Travelers Championship 24:06 Top Odds 28:06 20/1-40/1 44:52 40/1-100/1 59:02 100+/1 1:10:31 Quick Picks 1:13:57 One and Done
2020 Travelers Championship Field
Field: Over 156 Players | Top 65 and Ties Make the Cut after 36 Holes
First Tee: Thursday, June 25 at 6:45 a.m. ET
Defending Champion: Chez Reavie
NOTE: Cameron Champ was forced to withdraw after a positive COVID19 Test. Graeme McDowell, Brooks Koepka, Chase Koepka, and Webb Simpson have also withdrawn due to COVID19 concerns. They did not test positive.
Fans of DraftKings golf, wagering on golf, watching golf, and just golf, in general, got a scare Friday afternoon when it was leaked that one of the players on-site at Harbour Town returned a positive COVID-19 test. It was later released that it was Nick Watney who tested positive, hence his withdraw in advance of round two. That, coupled with the slew of positive tests from other sports reported Friday afternoon, had panic immediately setting in. Would the TOUR merely shut things down due to outside safety pressure despite the guidelines set in place? What would happen if it wasn’t just Watney but there was a cluster of players who tested positive?
Fortunately, the initial alarm quickly died off. The first wave of test results for players who may have come in contact with Watney returned negative and golf went on about its business. Watney must isolate for two weeks, hopefully recovering quickly, while the PGA TOUR bubble shifts from South Carolina to the Hartford suburbs for the 2020 Travelers Championship. The elite names form the past two weeks will all populate the field at TPC River Highlands, and we’re even adding a few more to the mix. Back from their hiatus, world No. 7 Patrick Cantlay and No. 24 Paul Casey will finally join the roving PGA TOUR bubble. Chuck former champion Marc Leishman, Scottie Scheffler, and Kevin Na into the field after taking a week off, and this is the strong field ever for the Travelers Championship. By quite a large margin, too. Although, despite his return at Heritage, it appears like Hideki Matsuyama will skip the event this week.
Since the PGA TOUR restarted at Colonial, of the world’s elite players only Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, Tommy Fleetwood, Bernd Wiesberger, Francesco Molinari, Lee Westwood, Daniel Berger (withdrew Sunday evening) and Henrik Stenson are ones currently ranked inside the top 40 who have yet to hit the links. Notice sans Tiger, that group is entirely comprised of internationals, so they may just be stuck overseas or simply don’t want to risk entering the US right now. And, I’d wager, we may see a few of those names make their debuts next week at Memorial.
Overall, 33 of the top 40 players will comprise a portion of the 156 golfer field. Beyond Cantlay and Casey, Lucas Bjerregaard, Bo Hoag, Rob Oppenheim, Cameron Davis, Hank Lebioda, Joseph Bramlett, Jamie Lovemark, Ace Hardware’s Hunter Mahan, Grayson Murray, Super Nintendo Chalmers, Seung-yul Noh, Hudson Swafford, Cameron Tringale, and James……. HAHHHHNNNNNNNNNN are all expected to make post-hiatus debuts. Haskins and Hogan Award winner Sahith Theegala had the ability to return to Pepperdine based on a new exemption but opted to become a professional. Theegala played in the Outlaw Tour’s Lone Tree Classic a few weeks back and carded a 62 in his first round as a pro. Good for the first-round lead. Theegala ended up in a tie for third. BYU’s Peter Kuest also opted to skip a final year and turn pro. He too is in the field this week.
Curious about when major leagues and events will return? Check out our DraftKings Sports Calendar for the latest updates.
2020 Travelers Championship: Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
Par 4s Gained: 400-450 Yards
Par 5s Gained
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2020 Travelers Championship: Course
Course: TPC River Highlands
Greens: Poa Annua (with Bentgrass Mix)
2020 Travelers Championship: Past Winners
2019: Chez Reavie -17
2018: Bubba Watson -17
2017: Jordan Spieth -12
2016: Russell Knox -14
2015: Bubba Watson -16
2014: Kevin Streelman -15
2013: Ken Duke -12
2012: Marc Leishman -14
2011: Freddy Jacobson -20
2010: Bubba Watson -14
2020 Travelers Championship: Strategy
Over the weekend, Peter Kostis made mention about the narrative of how longer hitters can’t do well at Harbour Town. Pointing to Davis Love III, a five-time winner of the event, and one of the longest drivers of his day. This is the issue with narratives: They get misconstrued. We’ve heard it each of the past two weeks at Colonial and Heritage since, over the past decade, shorter hitters have experienced the most success. That can quickly be debunked as a product of field strength. The best players tend to be the longest hitter, by in large, and most of those guys never went to these events. It’s really that simple.
But the narrative got twisted along the way. It isn’t that extra length is a disadvantage at these two particular tracks, it’s that the shorter hitters aren’t at a massive disadvantage like they are at certain courses. Any style can win, and you’ve seen that played out on the Sunday leaderboards. Thankfully, the Travelers Championship is another tournament where a shorter hitter can compete along with the bombers.
Another Pete Dye design, TPC River Highlands is a Par 70 measuring a paltry 6,841 yards, featuring seven Par 4s from 400-450 yards, and another two under 400 yards. Including the drivable No. 15. The 296-yard Par 4 15th generated eight eagles in 2018; nine in 2017. Annually, more than 95% of the field will attack the green off the tee. It’s the second shortest Par 4 on TOUR after No. 16 at Sheshan. Additionally, TPC River Highlands is the second shortest course in the regular PGA TOUR rotation, trailing only Pebble Beach GL.
Where around-the-green skills and off-the-tee skills has measured historically about even the past two weeks (with approach distinctively ahead in the strokes gained metrics), it’s a firm shift back to ball-striking at Travelers. Among the Top-5 finishes each of the past six seasons, SG: OTT has been twice as important as SG: ATG, and almost a third of SG: APP. Players hit almost 67% of fairways at TPC River Highlands against a PGA TOUR average of 61%, so most of the field will have no reason to scale back with the ol’ smoke wagon. Of course, a hot putter can make up for deficiencies in the ball striking department.
Years ago, the Bentgrass greens were some the slowest on TOUR, even garnering the elusive “velcro” label from Fantasy National in 2012. That changed three years ago, however. Reconstructed with Poa Annua putting surfaces the greens now run fast relative to other PGA TOUR events.
While this is a Pete Dye track, there has been a considerable crossover between the top of the leaderboards of the Valspar Championship, Riviera, and Phoenix over the years. And it goes beyond Bubba Watson, who has won at Riviera and the TPC River Highlands three times apiece. Paul Casey has experienced success at all three. Kevin Streelman and Jordan Spieth has won the Valspar and the Travelers in his career. I’m not entirely sure why, maybe it’s a shot shaping issues, but there are a lot of players in the field this week who have experienced a lot of success at those three courses but very rarely played in the Travelers Championship. Actually, come to think of it, the 2017 Northern Trust features a lot of those same names as well. That event was also in the Northeast with similar greens, and, since it was a playoff event, had all the stars those other events don’t draw.
Pete Dye Courses on The PGA Tour
TPC Sawgrass (The Players Championship)
Harbour Town (RBC Heritage)
TPC River Highlands (Travelers Championship)
TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic)
Austin Country Club (WGC Match Play)
TPC Stadium Course at La Quinta (Two rounds at The CareerBuilder)
Crooked Stick (2012/2016 BMW Championship)
Whistling Straits (2015, 2010, 2005 PGA TOUR Championship)
Kiawah Island (2012 PGA TOUR Championship)
2020 Travelers Championship — Targets From Each Range
Dustin Johnson $9,400
It’s always better to be a week early than a week late when constructing your DraftKings lineups. Now, that’s easier in theory than to actually watch yourself light money on fire, which is what happens a high percentage of the time. Sometimes you can miss the early week yet still reap all the rewards, though. After struggling at Colonial, DJ was solid at Heritage, and no one seemed to notice. Especially the broadcast. Paired with Brooks Koepka in the final round, we got a lot of Brooks on TV, very little DJ. Now, he only finished T17, but a closer examination shows that it may actually help us. For the week, he was second in the field driving the ball, seventh in SG: Ball Striking, and eighth Tee-to-Green. He simply couldn’t chip (-1.6 SG: ATG) or putt (-0.2 SG: PUTT). Moving to a venue where driving means more than short game, and on his preferred Poa Annua putting surface (+0.3 SG: PUTT per round), this could be last week to grab DJ at a discount. Plus, if Riviera and Valspar are actual corollary events, DJ has no finish worse than T16 in his last eight starts between those two courses.
Sergio Garcia $8,500
This is terrifying. Sergio almost came through late Sunday after he FINALLY started making putts. A little too late, however. For the week, he was the best in the field Tee-to-Green but missed five putts inside five feet. Make those and he wins the tournament by two. Now, this isn’t surprising, Sergio is a wildly streaky putter in both directions. In his last 15 measured events, Sergio has gained on the greens six times. In those six positive events, he’s gained an average of +2.58 SG: PUTT, while he’s lost an average of -2.98 SG: PUTT. Like I said, wild swings. Tilting, even. But that’s the game you play with great ball strikers who can be the worst putters on the course. A Pete Dye specialist, with previous success at Riviera, Valspar, and Travelers when he used to play this event (T25 2015/T2 2014), striking the ball this week at the moment, if he can have one of those positive weeks on the greens, TPC River Highlands suits his game perfectly.
Collin Morikawa $9,100
Out of it on Sunday, Morikawa lost almost four strokes on approach. The worse single iron round of his career. His previous low was -3.0 SG: APP at the 2019 Northern Trust. He created a five-stroke difference from round one to two, gaining +2.1 SG: APP the next day. So, I wouldn’t really worry about it. His -0.9 SG: APP at Heritage was only the second time in his pro career Morikawa finished in the negative for a tournament. If it’s ball-striking you want, and we do, outside of Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, Morikawa is the most constituent you’ll find. Plus, as a California kid, he’ll be thrilled to get off of Bermuda greens for the foreseeable future. Oh, even with the disappointing weekend performance, he’s now made 20 cuts in a row to start his career.
Max Homa $7,000
Homa’s gained from the tee box in each of his nine 2020 starts, and got back over +6 SG: APP at Heritage after a quick blip into the minus at Colonial. Fifth earlier this year at Riviera and does his best putting on poa surfaces. His odds and DraftKings pricing were initially inflated because of his newfound internet celebrity emerging from hiatus, but they’ve settled back down the board now. Like DJ, Homa was quietly Top 10 in driving, approach, and tee-to-green at Heritage. As has become a theme, dude couldn’t putt or chip. And, since there are no fans, he can’t pull a Shooter and blame it two fat naked bikers, in the woods off seventeen having sex. Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Sebastian Munoz, Viktor Hovland, Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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