What to watch for at the Travelers Championship

We get a surprisingly star-studded field this week at the Travelers Championship in the week after Brooks Koepka took the U.S. Open. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth will all play at TPC River Highlands, which makes for a hell of a field anywhere, even more so the week after a major championship.

 

1. Another 58 watch? The last time we saw this course, it was being desecrated by Jim Furyk, who shot a stunning 58 in his final round at the 2016 Travelers Championship. It would be shocking if we saw that again, but you at least know that number is out there. With McIlroy and Day coming in off a missed cut at the U.S. Open, it might at least be threatened.

2. Rory’s rebound: Speaking of McIlroy, I’m probably most curious about what he does this week. His U.S. Open missed cut was probably the least disconcerting of all the stars who missed simply because he hasn’t played almost at all since the Masters. He seemed encouraged by ending his Friday with birdies in four of his final six holes.

3. First-time winner: Of the past 11 winners of this tournament, six have won their first PGA Tour event here. A lot of that is because stars and superstars mostly don’t play the week after a major so that could flip this week, but it’s at least worth keeping an eye on when it comes to golfers like Jamie Lovemark, Kevin Tway and Trey Mullinax.

Past winners

  • 2016: Russell Knox
  • 2015: Bubba Watson
  • 2014: Kevin Streelman
  • 2013: Ken Duke
  • 2012: Marc Leishman

    That’s a pretty eclectic group of golfers. Leishman and Watson are big hitters, but the other three really aren’t. I think we’re going to get a more accomplished champ this time around than in the recent past.

Travelers Championship picks

Winner: Graham DeLaet has finished in the top five at this tournament in two of the past four years. He missed out on the U.S. Open (which might play to his advantage), but he has two top 10s in his past six events including the last one he played at the Memorial. Odds: 50-1

Top 10: Jordan Spieth has never played this tournament before, but he’s the No. 1 ball-striker on the PGA Tour, and he just grinded out a T35 at Erin Hills when he could have easily missed the weekend. I’ll ride here with the best-performing top player in the field. Odds: 9-1

Sleeper: Jamie Lovemark has three straight top 30s and played in one of the final pairings on Saturday at the U.S. Open. He’s a ball-striking extravaganza waiting to unfold and is still looking for win No. 1. Lovemark has three top 10s on the season and has been flying under the radar for the last few years. Odds: 66-1