Travelers betting preview: Major hangovers open door for English
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The PGA TOUR is in Cromwell, Connecticut, this week for the Travelers Championship after a grueling U.S. Open.
Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Bryson DeChambeau are among the notables making the trip from San Diego to the Northeast. It's expected that some of the top players will experience major hangovers, which could open the door for a long shot to hoist the trophy Sunday.
- TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut
- Pete Dye design
- 6,841 yards, par 70
- Predominately bentgrass greens
- 10 par 4s under 450 yards
- One of the shortest courses on TOUR
2020: Dustin Johnson (-19) over Kevin Streelman
2019: Chez Reavie (-17) over Keegan Bradley, Zack Sucher
2018: Bubba Watson (-17) over four players
2017: Jordan Spieth (-12) over Daniel Berger
2016: Russell Knox (-14) over Jerry Kelly
2015: Bubba Watson (-16) over Paul Casey
2014: Kevin Streelman (-16) over K.J. Choi, Sergio Garcia
2013: Ken Duke (-12) over Chris Stroud
2012: Marc Leishman (-14) over Charley Hoffman, Bubba Watson
DeChambeau enters the week as the favorite at +1000. He's finished inside the top 10 in each of his last three appearances at TPC River Highlands and held the U.S. Open lead after 63 holes last week. But it's rarely recommended to bet the favorite, and this week is no different.
Quickly: This isn't a major, so cross Koepka off the list.
Johnson might be the best value of the group at +1400, nearly the same odds he had last week in a major. He's the defending champion and played very well at Torrey Pines until the back nine on Sunday.
Cases can be made for both Paul Casey and Patrick Cantlay: Casey has incredible course history, and Cantlay won two starts ago at the Memorial. But there's too much value further down the board to take a big stand behind one of the favorites.
The next tier
The first name that jumps off the page here is Harris English at +3500. He finished alone in third place last week but did so in a fairly low-stress way. He shot 71-68 on the weekend to soar up the U.S. Open leaderboard, and he should continue that strong play at a course that suits his game perfectly.
Kevin Streelman (+3500) is playing some of the finest golf of his career. He placed second to Johnson at the Travelers last year, but his odds are a little too short.
Matthew Wolff showed no signs of rust at the U.S. Open following a two-month layoff. He finished tied for 15th and is a reasonable option at +3500 this week considering his winning upside.
Joaquin Niemann (+3800) placed fifth at the Travelers in his debut in 2019, and he gained 6.1 strokes tee-to-green at Torrey Pines. Bettors could do far worse than backing the Chilean in good form at a course where he's played well before.
There are plenty of long shots to like this week, but you still have to be smart - backing too many is a slippery slope.
Here are a few to consider:
- Russell Henley (+5500): He played in the final pairing Saturday at the U.S. Open and finished sixth at the Travelers in 2016. There's no reason he can't continue to hit his irons well and compete for a second straight week.
- Bubba Watson (+6000): He's a two-time winner at TPC River Highlands and played well at the U.S. Open until the weekend.
- Charley Hoffman (+6000): No one in the field is hitting their irons better than Hoffman over the last 50 rounds. He was also a runner-up in Connecticut in 2012.
- Stewart Cink (+10000): Cink is unlikely to win for a third time this season, but he's claimed two victories at TPC River Highlands in his career and was a runner-up in 2018. It's hard to pass on the resurgent Cink at +10000.
- Guido Migliozzi (+14000): The Italian impressed with his fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open. He's a very popular selection this week, with his number dropping to +8000 in some places.
- Will Gordon (+16000): He finished third at the Travelers last year and gained 8.9 strokes through approach shots in his last start.
- Beau Hossler (+25000): The Texas alum was a runner-up at the 2018 Travelers Championship and gained 8.4 strokes tee-to-green in his most recent start at the Palmetto Championship.
Harris English (+3500)
English is playing great golf right now. As mentioned above, he should also have far more gas in the tank compared to other players who took on Torrey Pines for four tough days.
He's trending in the right direction, too. The 31-year-old recorded top-15 finishes in two of his three starts before the U.S. Open, his first two quality starts since winning the Tournament of Champions in January.
If English has truly returned to the form that put him among the game's best in late 2020, getting him at +3500 in this field is a steal.
Cameron Smith (+4200)
Cameron Smith barely missed the cut at the U.S. Open, where he lost an uncharacteristic 5.9 strokes around the green; that's why bettors are getting a discount on him at +4200. He did gain nearly three strokes with his approach shots in two rounds at Torrey Pines, a positive sign for the Travelers.
The Aussie was a popular selection at a similar price to win the PGA Championship after he'd recently finished T9 at the RBC Heritage (another Pete Dye design). Considering the strength of the field at Kiawah Island compared to this week's competition, Smith is an even more valuable option here.
Brendan Steele (+14000)
We'll try to hit a home run here with Brendan Steele at +14000.
The 38-year-old finished sixth at the Travelers last year and fifth in 2014. He's only missed two cuts in nine appearances at the event, and he's placed inside the top 25 each time he's advanced to the weekend.
He did miss the cut at the U.S. Open, but it was his first missed cut in a 13-tournament stretch. Steele is a long shot for a reason, but the three-time PGA TOUR winner could very well surprise with a fourth victory this week.