With the season’s second major in the books – yet another controversial edition of the U.S. Open put on by the USGA, the PGA Tour makes its annual stop in Cromwell, Connecticut for the Travelers Championship.
Played at TPC River Highlands, the event has seen unforgettable moments the last two years: Jordan Spieth chest-bumping his caddy after a playoff bunker hole-out last year, and Jim Furyk’s final-round 58 the year prior.
The Travelers Championship has drawn an impressive field this year, especially for an event held the week after a major. Seven of the top 15 in the Official World Golf Rankings are scheduled to play, including the reigning champions of all four majors.
Here are the players we like most this week:
15. MARC LEISHMAN
The 2012 Travelers Champion has been a horse for the course at TPC River Highlands, also finishing T11 in 2014, T9 in 2016, and shot four rounds in the 60s in a T17 effort last year.
Leishman has two runner ups this season, including one at last month’s AT&T Byron Nelson, and four other top-10 finishes. However, he has been unable to avoid the big numbers as of late, with a third-round 78 at the U.S. Open (although lots of players bombed that round), and Sunday 76s at The Memorial and THE PLAYERS.
There is a lot to like, but he has been largely inconsistent.
World Rank: 16th
Last Seven: 45, 62, 2, 63, MC, 9, 52
14. LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN
The South African seems to be rounding into form, as he has finished T16 or better in six of his past eight starts. He lead the U.S. Open field in pars last week, was second in driving accuracy, and fifth in scrambling.
Only five birdies in four rounds is concerning, but it’s likely that he employed a very conservative gameplan at Shinnecock Hills. Oosthuizen looked good in his last trip to TPC River Highlands, riding a 67-66 weekend to a T17 two years ago.
World Rank: 33rd
Last Seven: 16, 13, 5, MC, MC, 9, MC
13. PATRICK CANTLAY
Cantlay shot a 60 at the Travelers as a stud amateur in 2011. Injuries prevented his next several years from becoming commensurate with the elite talent he flashed on that Friday afternoon, but he is now having his second consecutive great season, highlighted by his first professional victory during the Fall Series.
Cantlay has finished T7 or better in three of his last six starts and was especially dialed in at The Memorial, where he finished in fourth place. He has not played this event since 2014, but his good memories and stellar recent form should have him hitting with confidence.
World Rank: 30th
Last Seven: 45, 4, MC, 23, 7, MC, 17
12. DANIEL BERGER
Berger was the victim of Jordan Spieth’s iconic bunker shot at last year’s Travelers, the second straight year he was in the championship mix at TPC River Highlands.
The year prior at just 23 years old, Berger held the 54-hole lead after a third round 62, but ended up a still-tremendous T5. His 2018 season had been underwhelming, but after playing his way into the final Sunday grouping last week at the U.S. Open, his game may be back on track.
His T6 at Shinnecock Hills was his best career finish in a major.
World Rank: 40th
Last Seven: 6, MC, 57, 55, 32, 18, 59
11. WEBB SIMPSON
The man who blew away the field at THE PLAYERS Championship added a T10 at last week’s U.S. Open, rebounding nicely from an opening round 76. He is currently fifth in scoring average, and largely off the strength of his putting, he has posted top 10s in three of his last five starts, and five of his last 10.
A T8 at last year’s event was his second top-10 in his last three trips to TPC River Highlands.
World Rank: 21st
Last Seven: 10, MC, 1, 21, 5, 20, 29
10. JORDAN SPIETH
The defending champion would love to see his week in Connecticut end with another jubilant chest-bump with caddy Michael Greller, but to go back to back, he will need to play MUCH better than he has as of late.
Spieth actually putted very well at last week’s U.S. Open, a promising development considering how much that part of his game has been in shambles this year, but he still missed the Shinnecock Hills cut after his iron game was surprisingly a no-show.
He is winless on the season, and has now gone five-straight starts without a top-20 finish, but still… its Jordan Spieth. He will snap out of this funk. Could it be this week?
World Rank: 5th
Last Seven: MC, MC, 32, 21, 41, 3, 3
9. BUBBA WATSON
After a blazing five-event stretch from February-early April where he won twice, placed T5 at The Masters, and T9 at the WGC-Mexico, Bubba’s game has fallen back to earth with four straight poor results, including at last week’s U.S. Open, where four double bogeys in two rounds had him at 11-over par, three strokes short of the cut line.
Fortunately for Bubba, the Travelers comes at the perfect time, and nobody in the field has a better history in the event. Watson was the event champion in 2010 and 2015, runner-up in 2012, and was solo-fourth in 2013.
World Rank: 20th
Last Seven: MC, 44, 57, 5, 1, 66, 9
8. XANDER SCHAUFFELE
He was never really in contention last week at Shinnecock Hills, but once all the dust settled, the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year finished T6, his second U.S. Open top-10 in two tries.
Over his past three months, he has a lot of mediocre finishes, including back-to-back missed cuts coming into the U.S. Open, but his two best performances were at elite events: last week’s T6 and a T2 at THE PLAYERS Championship.
Is this field good enough for see Xander’s best again? He was T14 in his Travelers debut last year.
World Rank: 24th
Last Seven: 6, MC, MC, 2, 72, 73, 32
7. PAUL CASEY
Still majorless, Casey had hoped to factor more into last week’s U.S. Open, although three 73s and a 71 still led to a respectable T16 finish. Casey has just two finishes outside the top 20 in 12 starts this season, and he conquered some closing demons in a March victory at the Valspar Championship.
A T5 at last year’s Travelers was the third consecutive quality finish in the event, as he also T17 in 2016, and was runner-up to Bubba Watson in 2015, where he was defeated on second playoff hole.
World Rank: 13th
Last Seven: 16, 20, 5, MC, 15, 17, 1
6. RORY McILROY
All the extra prep hours McIlroy reportedly put in for the U.S. Open was for naught, as a shockingly poor round-one 80, where he hit double-digits over par by the 11th hole, a very unfitting result for a four-time major champion. His 4-under back-nine in round 2 was impressive, but his championship hopes had been long dashed by then.
Rory will be hoping that he does not need to use three different putters at TPC River Highlands, like he did last year in a T17 effort, but things did click in a final-round 64. The World No. 7 has been boom-or-bust in his last several starts, posting a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a T5 at The Masters, and a T8 at The Memorial, but missing the cut at the U.S. Open and THE PLAYERS Championship.
His talent is undeniable, and nobody would be shocked if he runs away with the Travelers title this week, but as of late, he seemed completely incapable of putting four rounds together. His game desperately needs some consistency.
World Rank: 7th
Last Seven: MC, 8, 2, MC, 16, 5, 36
5. JASON DAY
The 30-year-old Aussie is in the midst of a tremendous comeback season, often flashing the form that once had him atop the Official World Golf Rankings. That being said, it cannot be denied that Day was an absolute dud last week at the U.S. Open, with 14 over-par holes in a 12-over effort that caused him to miss the weekend.
Day will be hoping TPC River Highlands can pull him out of his recent tailspin; since a 68-68 start at The Memorial Tournament, his last four rounds have gone 74, 74, 79, and 73 respectively. He is too good to stay down long, and he will be motivated to better the missed cut he tallied in his Travelers Debut last year.
World Rank: 9th
Last Seven: MC, 44, 5, 1, 20, 36, 22
4. BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU
Currently fifth in the FedExCup standings, the 24-year-old DeChambeau has asserted himself as one of the best young players in the game over the past three months. In addition to his victory at the stacked-field Memorial Tournament three weeks ago, DeChambeau’s last eight starts have included a runner-up, a T3, and a solo-fourth.
This will be his third attempt at TPC River Highlands, and he feels like a lock to improve on his T26 from last year.
World Rank: 22nd
Last Seven: 25, 1, 42, 37, 4, 3, 38
3. BROOKS KOEPKA
Well, he just won the U.S. Open for the second-consecutive year, so Brooks is probably feeling pretty good right now.
Many will be predicting a let-down week, which would not be shocking given all the distractions, but the now World No. 4 is extraordinarily confident and has too much pride to completely mail it in at the Travelers. He skipped the event last year, but was T9 in 2016.
World Rank: 4th
Last Seven: 1, 30, 2, 11, 42, 34, 18
2. JUSTIN THOMAS
The World No. 2 returns for a fourth-straight season to Cromwell. Thomas has been a hit or miss at TPC River Highlands, sandwiching a T3 (2016) between two missed-cuts (2015 and 2017).
Thomas was never able to get much going at the U.S. Open, shooting three rounds of 74 and placing a disappointing T25, his worst individual event result of the season. Still, he has two wins and a runner-up on the year, and has accumulated nearly $6 million in earnings in just 15 season events.
It would be very surprising if he is not in contention this week.
World Rank: 2nd
Last Seven: 25, 8, 11, 21, 17, 4, 2
1. PATRICK REED
The Masters Champion nearly made it 2-for-2 in the major season, carding five birdies on his first seven holes Sunday at the U.S. Open to jump into a co-lead before the brutal back nine knocked him back into solo-fourth.
Still, it was another great start for Reed, who now has seven top-10s in his last nine events. He has been at his best around the greens, but his game as a whole is showing few weaknesses as of late.
With a T11 in 2016, and a T5 last year that included two rounds of 66, Reed has shown a considerable level of comfort at TPC River Highlands.
World Rank: 11th
Last Seven: 4, 29, 41, 8, 1, 9, 7