This week players will head to TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut for the Travelers Championship.
The Travelers is normally a decent field but with players trying to get as many reps as possible post-COVID Suspension this year’s rendition will see the strongest field the event has ever had.
Speaking of the Heritage, before breaking down TPC River Highlands and this week’s golf betting plays let’s recap the action from last week.
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Rbc Heritage Challenge Recap
With the spotline shining directly on the sport the players provided an incredible week of golf and an exciting Sunday finish for the second week in a row. Webb Simpson outlasted a host of contenders including Tyrell Hatton, Abe Ancer, Joquin Niemann and Daniel Berger to claim his 2nd win of the 2019/20 season.
Webb And Ancer Steal The Show
Webb is quickly becoming the best closer on Tour. On Sunday he never faced trouble and when he hit the back nine his putter came alive, making birdies on 12, 13, 15, 16 and 17 enroute to a bogey free 7 under 64 and a one stroke victory over Ancer.
While Webb stole the show down the stretch, Ancer’s play impressed me the most during the week. He only missed 7 greens over the four days, gaining almost 12 strokes on approach.
If he simply gains one stroke on the greens rather than losing .9 he wins the event. When you couple his recent performance with his incredible run at the President’s Cup in December it is clear that it is only a matter of time before Ancer finds the winners circle.
Incredible Two Week Run
Overall the week was incredibly successful. The card cashed Webb Outright, hit a First Round Leader in Poulter, went 4-1 in Full Tournament H2Hs and the round by round plays were also profitable.
With that said, this is a perfect place to stress the importance of proper staking. The last two weeks have been incredible, turning out double digit unit profits in each. It can be easy to see this success and change your staking, thinking that these plays cannot lose. This cannot be further from the truth.
I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to stake consistently, only what you can afford to lose and do not get caught up in thinking this is a run that can last forever. It will not.
Golf is a marathon, not a sprint and there are giant ebbs and flows week to week. The goal is to be able to increase the bankroll when it is good, sustain when it is bad and look back on the entire year and realize a profit. BE CONSISTENT!
With that said, Rule #1 is you cannot walk away from a heater so onto TPC RIVER HIGHLANDS!
TPC River Highlands is a short, attackble Par 70 that plays at only 6850 yards. The lack of length has given all types of players a chance to compete from the bombers like 3 time champ Bubba Watson to the plodder types like last year’s winner Chez Reavie.
It is a course that consistently ranks middle of the pack in terms of difficulty on Tour, but it is important to note that it typically does not see a field with this kind of firepower off the tee.
Off The Tee
TPC River Highlands is not super demanding from the tee box. While the fairways are tree lined and errant shots will be left with punchouts, they are also extremely wide by Tour standards.
The result is that players will hit these fairways at a higher than average clip and driving distance here is about the same as the Tour average.
Bubba has shown what a bomber can do so I fully expect the likes of Rory and Bryson to take angles off the tee that this tournament has never seen which will leavethem with short irons and wedges into greens. This is a recipe for a low scoring affair and I expect the winner to eclipse the 20 under par mark.
On The Greens
Once on the greens, players will be faced with the much maligned Poa surface. However, Northeastern Poa is different from what players see on the West Coast as it is mixed with Bentgrass, making the normally bumpy afternoons a little more smooth.
The greens are relatively big by Tour standards and see a higher percentage of greens in regulation when compared with the Tour average.
What is also important is that the winner here the last 4 years has averaged a ranking of only 20th in the Strokes Gained Putting category. This means that you don’t necessarily have to have the hottest putter to be successful at TPC River Highlands.
The West Coast comparison is interesting as those who play well during the California swing tend to thrive here as well.
Three-time champ Bubba Watson is also a three-time champ on Riviera’s Poa greens, last years winner Chez Reavie has seen some of his best finishes at historic Pebble Beach and a host of other past winners, from Kevin Streelman and Marc Leishman to Jordan Spieth have seen immense success on the Poa surfaces out West.
This Week’s Statististics
I am favoring bombers this week. Bubba has given the blueprint over the years of how to attack this course off the tee and a field with the likes of Bryson, Rory, Rahm, DJ and Brooks, I expect that playbook to be taken to another level.
This short par 70 is going to give up a ton of birdies. Look for this to especially be the case on Thursday as the weather report is calling for overnight showers that will soften the already attackable course. I would not be surprised to see a 60 or 61 over the four days with a 59 being directly in play.
With that said, strong approach games will also be a key to success. Players who give themselves the most birdie chances by hitting it close will ultimately be who is in contention on Sunday.
With that said, I will be favoring SG:APP with Opportunities Gained (approaches within 15 feet) and SG:OTT. Finally, I want to know who thrives on POA surfaces so SG:P on Poa will also be factored in. Onto The Plays!
Dustin Johnson +2500 at BetOnline.ag
There was a time when every conversation about bombers on Tour started with DJ. While there have been a few who have caught up with him, he remains one of the elite off the tee players week in a week out. Think of this, DJ has lost over a stroke off the tee ONCE since 2016. Incredible.
At the end of 2019 DJ was hampered by a knee injury, which was repaired during the Swing Season. Early in 2020 he was showing rust, which can be expected and did not play great his first time out post suspension at Colonial.
Things turned around for Johnson last week as he displayed his elite off the tee game once again, gaining 5.4 strokes in the category during the course of the tournament, while also being solid on approach gaining 3.1 strokes in the category.
Putting On POA
The putter held DJ back last week, as he lost .2 strokes putting during a week where a hot putter was necessary for success.
History has shown that ultra elite putting isn’t necessarily paramount here. What I love even more about Johnson this week is his success on Poa. He has 10 career wins on the surface and it is where he has displayed his best putting stats.
The days where DJ was a betting favorite week in and week out are not that far behind us. This is a perfect situation to jump on a guy before the market figures out where his game is heading. DJ at +2500 or better is the start of my card.
Mark Leishman +5000 MyBookie.ag
The former winner at this very event is being extremely disrespected by the market this week. TPC River Highlands is a perfect setup for Leishman who is long off the tee but has a tendency to spray it all over the place. Here, he can take advantage of the wide fairways, and rely on his strong approach game.
Leish On Approach
Leishman is rarely talked about as one of the elite iron players in the world. That conversation has obviously centered around the GOAT for over 2 decades now and currently is reserved for the likes of Rory, JT, Cantlay, Webb and Woodland. Even my son and PGA Tour Rookie Collin Morikawa’s name is brought up before we mention Leish.
How about this? Leishman has gained strokes on approach in 7 straight events where the statistic is calculated including 4.6 at the Arnold Palmer, 5.3 at the Genesis, 4.7 en route to a win at the Farmers and 6.8 at his 2020 debut at the Sony. Those are big boy approach numbers.
A Veteran Who Knows How To Win
Further, the market acts like this isn’t a guy who has 5 wins on Tour, including one this year and one at this event.
It makes sense that this is a place where Leish has shined as the wide fairways help negate his biggest weakness, driving it straight, and a birdie fest fits right into the kind of game Leish wants to play with his superb iron play.
All of this combined and Leishman is a gift at +5000
Max Homa Top 20 +400 at Bovada.lv
Quick! Who has gained the most strokes ball striking (OTT+APP) over their last 36 rounds? Bryson? No. My Son? Negative.
Rory, JT, Xander? WRONG. While they are all in the top 7 it is the Norweigan Rookie who is number 1 over the last 36 rounds, gaining 1.7 strokes ball striking, on average per round.
Can Hovland Make Enough Putts?
Any longtime reader or listener to my content knows my affinity towards the guys who absolutely pure it off the club face and putts like they just started playing last week. Hovland is no different and the flat stick is the reason that his incredible ball striking hasn’t translated into his first PGA Tour win.
Is there anything to be taken from his recent performances that suggests a putting uptick is about to occur? Absolutely not. In his two starts post suspension he has basically been a complete wash in putting, gaining exactly zero strokes at Colonial and losing .3 strokes last week.
The reason he is in play this week for not only this Top 20 but also to win harkens back to what I said when analyzing DJ’s chances: You don’t have to light the course on fire with the putter to win here. Given Hovland’s OTT prowess he will be able to cut the same corners as Bryson and Rory and if he can simply break even with the putter a Top 20 bet should be no sweat.
That is it for this week’s write up. As always, look for my full card on Wednesday Morning @jmazzjd on Twitter and feel free to reach out to me with any questions on the same handle throughout the week.
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