With the players still reeling from a tough week at Shinnecock Hills, there is no time for a break, as the PGA Tour visits TPC River Highlands for the 2018 renewal of the Travelers Championship.

Defending champion, Jordan Spieth returns, looking to an end a run of five straight events since the Masters, without a top-20 finish. Spieth’s last two starts have resulted in missed cuts at The Memorial and the U.S. Open and his task won’t be any easier here, as a strong field has assembled here in Connecticut.

Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day all join Spieth, as does two-time Travelers Championship winner, Bubba Watson. Also in the field are the 2018 Major champions, Patrick Reed (Masters) and Brooks Koepka, who has just defended his U.S. Open title. Paul Casey and Marc Leishman will also tee it up this week, ensuring nine representatives from the World’s top-20.

After the gruelling test of Shinnecock Hills last week, the players will appreciate an easier test this week, where birdies will be aplenty.

The Course and what it will take to win

TPC River Highlands, 6,841 Yards Yards, Par 70, Poa Annua Greens

Wind can certainly come into play here at TPC River Highlands, but the winning score is bound to be double-digits under-par regardless. The last time the winning score did not get to ten-under-par was in 1993, when Nick Price was victorious. That was the third straight year the winner here was in single digits under-par (Billy Ray Brown -9 in 1991, Larry Wadkins -6 in 1992). These were isolated results though as before 1991 the score was always double-digits under-par also.

Jim Furyk broke the single-round scoring record on the PGA Tour here, when he shot a 58 in the final round in 2016, quite a feat considering how difficult it is to shoot 59. Despite shooting that 58 Furyk still didn’t win here, highlighting how important it is to go consistently low throughout the week.

There is no clear statistical bias as to how you win here, but you have to make birdies or better, one way or another in order to do so. Hitting Greens in Regulation will be extremely advantageous, and good figures throughout the season is a good way to narrow down a potential winner here.

Of the last ten winners, eight have ranked inside the top-4 for Birdie or Better Percentage, with Watson (12th in 2015) and Freddie Jacobson (11th in 2011) the exceptions.

In extension to the Birdie or Better Percentage statistic, eight of the last ten winners have ranked inside the top-10 in Birdie or Better Percentage on the Par 4’s specifically (Leishman 14th in 2012 and Cink 12th in 2008) the exceptions. Four of the last five have ranked 1st in this statistic, with Knox the outlier, ranking 6thin 2016.

To convert birdie and eagle chances, a good putter is needed, and of the last ten winners here, six have ranked inside the top-10 for SG: Putting and seven have ranked inside the top-20. Spieth (31st), Leishman (49th) and Watson (41st in 2010) have proved though, that you can win when not at you very best with the putter.

Given the nature of this event, it is hard to pinpoint any one type of player here, but I would suggest looking at those that rank highly in both Birdie Or Better Percentage and Birdie Or Better Percentage Par 4’s. Players ranking highly in Greens in Regulation will of course need to be respected also.

Key Trends and Summary of Key Statistics

Five of the last ten winners here have either missed the cut or not played in the U.S. Open the week before.

Of the last ten winners here, only Freddie Jacobson (2011) and Stewart Cink (2008) finished inside the top-20 at the U.S. Open the week before winning here (Both T14).

Five of the last ten winners here were winning for the first time on the PGA Tour.

Of the last ten winners here, only Jordan Spieth was playing this course for the first time.

Four of the last five winners ranked 1st in Birdie or Better Percentage (Par 4’s) with Knox ranking 6th.

All of the last ten winners have ranked in the top-14 in Birdie or Better Percentage (Par 4’s)

All of the last ten winners ranked in the top-12 in Birdie or Better Percentage.

Market Leaders

Justin Thomas 12/1

Brooks Koepka 12/1

Rory McIlroy 14/1

Jordan Spieth 14/1

Patrick Reed 16/1

Points staked this week: 8

Profit/loss for 2018: -87.4

 

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