The PGA TOUR returns to a familiar spot on the schedule for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands with Russell Knox as the defending champion. Here is a preview and power ranking to aid in your research.
TPC River Highlands is one of the shorter courses on the PGA TOUR at a mere 6,841 yards and playing to a par of 70. As expected, it has a pair of par 5s, four par 3s and 12 par 4s. What is a bit surprising is how well some of the bombers have shined on this course. Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson are both repeat champions, and numerous bashers of the ball have scored notable finishes.
To be sure, birdies are a necessity. Since 2000, it’s taken at least 20-under to win on three occasions and always at least double digits. With both par 5s easily reachable by most, that should account for at least 6-under-par, if not lower. The par-4 15th hole is also set up to be reached off the tee, providing many birdies but also danger with a lake lurking to the left.
Last year’s edition was a victim of the Olympic shuffle. Rather than the usual week after the U.S. Open, it moved to August. All is right in the world of golf this year, as we are back on schedule. That means all of those fresh off the season’s second major will have a relaxing week compared to the stress of Erin Hills.
With that as the backdrop, here is this week’s power ranking.
1. Justin Thomas – Competitive last week at Erin Hills, Thomas narrowly takes the top spot in this ranking after a T3 last year in this event. The par 5s should feel like long par 4s, and the reachable par 4 may only require a 3-wood.
2. Paul Casey – Spent time atop the leaderboard at the U.S. Open before a weekend retreat. Casey has only played the Travelers Championship twice, but went 2-T17 the last two years. The pressure of a major may be a bit too much for the Brit, but that shouldn’t be the case in an event like this one.
3. Marc Lieshman – In solid form and comes to a course where he touts an excellent resume. He’s made all six of his cuts including a win, a T9 (last year) and a T11. No reason to think he won’t perform up to expectations this week.
4. Daniel Berger – Winner two weeks ago failed to thrive at Erin Hills, but heads to TPC River Highlands where he was the 54-hole leader last year before settling for a T5.
5. Charley Hoffman – Another notable for a while at Erin Hills, Hoffman has made six of seven cuts with two top 10s and five top 30s in the Travelers Championship. That includes a T2 in 2012.
6. Brian Harman – It’s probably not often that a 54-hole solo leader at a U.S. Open shoots even par in the final round and gets boat raced, but that’s what happened to Harman on Sunday. It should be noted that he’s in the midst of a huge season overall, including his second win. He’s made five of six cuts in this event, with a bronze medal in 2015 the highlight before a missed cut last year.
7. Brendan Steele – Made five of six cuts, with all going for top 25s, in this event. A T5 in 2014 is the high water mark. Also enjoyed a little TV time at the U.S. Open, highlight what has been overall solid form.
8. Brandt Snedeker – Made four-of-five cuts in this event, with a T11-T10 run in his last two visits. Among the class of the field, so it could be argued that he is worthy of a little more consideration than this.
9. Jordan Spieth – Set for his maiden voyage in this tournament. He’s been a bit of a mixed bag this season, but has still managed to earn over $3.7M while “disappointing.” Ironically, it could come down to his putter this week.
10. Bubba Watson – This is an important week for Bubba. He has two wins and a runner-up here, essentially owning TPC River Highlands over the years. As most know, he’s not performed well this year. If there’s ever a spot, this is it.
11. Rory McIlroy – He has to be mentioned in his first stop at the Travelers Championship, but I couldn’t put him inside the top 10 with a straight face. He’s just been too inconsistent this year across the globe.
12. Russell Knox – Won last year in his fifth attempt at the crown, and returns to defend his title. That includes all of the pressure that comes with defending during what has been just an average season by his elevated standards.
13. Webb Simpson – Made all seven cuts throughout the years, with a T5 and a second top 25 on the resume. As always, it will come down to his ability to manage a putter that is inconsistent at best.
14. Jim Furyk – Spread his five visits to the Travelers Championship over a number of years, but did manage a T5 last year. Had one of his better performances of the year last week in Wisconsin.
15. Patrick Reed – Another guy that performed reasonably well in the U.S. Open, Reed offers two top 20s in five attempts at this venue. Still, he’s basically been out of gas for the last six months and just won’t stop playing.
Check out all of the Rotoworld staff picks in Playing the Tips. Best of luck to all!