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PGA TOUR: Mike Glasscott's Travelers Championship Preview

A designated field of 156 players hop from Los Angeles to the eastern seaboard in Connecticut for the Travelers Championship this week.

TPC River Highlands in Cromwell has hosted this event since 1984. The Par-70 will play quite differently than the test last week at Los Angeles Country Club. Stretching only 6,852 yards, it's the second shortest track on TOUR annually, just ahead of Port Royal in Bermuda. 

The last nine champions at TPC River Highlands have previously won on TOUR, whilst each of those winners had also played the U.S. Open the week prior.
 

At the top of the board:

Scottie Scheffler (13/2
The Texan picked up his fourth consecutive podium last week, and his fourth consecutive podium without a victory. His incredible run of 16 consecutive events cashing T12 or better is on the line this week. He should be encouraged with his putter thawing. For the second major championship in a row, he gained strokes on the field on the putting surfaces. If that club cooperates, watch out!

Jon Rahm (11/1
The Spaniard stormed back into the top 10 last week with a closing 65 at LACC. The Spaniard leads the FedExCup standings with four wins this season. If he's looking to add to that total at TPC River Highlands, he'll have to improve on his best of T25 from three previous starts. Sits first in Birdie Average and T3 in Par-4 scoring - two big keys this week. 

Patrick Cantlay (11/1)
Who remembers when he showed up as a college player from UCLA in 2011 and set the course record of 60? Most reading this column will probably remember last year instead. Playing from the final group on Sunday with his pal Xander Schauffele, Cantlay squared NINE bogeys and double after beginning the round just one back. Signing for 76, his streak of missing the top 10 at TPC River Highlands reached five consecutive seasons. The good news is all of those paydays are T15 or better. 

Rory McIlroy (12/1) 
Rory has run his streak of top 10 U.S. Open finishes to five after finishing second last week. Pounding GIR, six more than anyone in the field, it's not hard to figure out which club in the bag didn't cooperate on the week. His streak of top-10 payouts on TOUR is now four consecutive events, but like Cantlay, in four fewer attempts, he has never breached the top 10 the week after the U.S. Open. It's more incredible considering he opened 62 last year, 63 in 2020, and 64 in 2018, his previous three visits. 

Xander Schauffele (12/1
Defending champion squared only three bogeys last year in posting 19-under, missing the tournament scoring record by three shots. Opening 63-63, he led by five at the halfway point before dodging a playoff with Theegala at the end. Schauffele will look to add to his eight top-10 finishes in 2023 and looks to become just the second player to successfully defend this title. 

Viktor Hovland (18/1) 
Winner at Memorial, broke his streak of three consecutive top-10 paydays in the majors with solo 19th last week. The tougher tests have brought his best results, but his tee-to-green ability cannot be ignored this week. He sits fifth in Scoring Average, and 10th in Birdie Average. If I'm staying up here, I'll ride with the most recent winner!
 

Course / Field:

What a difference a week makes! 

From 7,423 yards on a course few have played to 6,852 yards on a course that has hosted the event since the 1980s. Rough is rough, four inches of Bluegrass/Fescue, and driving is tight, as the landing areas only average 30 yards in width. 

The Bent/Poa greens aren't large, similar to Memorial in size, but not speed. With 16-under the average winning score, GIR are necessary, and putts must be holed. Two of the last three winners have posted 19-under. 

The field is composed of 37 of the top 50 OWGR, including eight of the top 10 making up the field of 156. It will feel like a major with the depth of the field, plus the second week running of a $20 million prize pool. Another week, another winner takes home $3.6 million.
 

Others to Consider:

Tommy Fleetwood (30/1)
He didn't let the disappointment of the playoff loss in Canada get him down. A magnificent 63 on Sunday, again, in the U.S. Open suggests the fire continues to burn red-hot. His last five paydays are all T18 or better after T33 at the Masters.

Russell Henley (35/1)
Seven of his last eight on TOUR have cashed T19 or better, including Colonial, the Memorial, and LACC in his last three. Adding four of five here with three T19 or better suggests a converging trend.

Tom Kim (35/1)
Played his final 54 holes in seven-under last week for his first top 10 on his own ball since January. His closing round 69 included a double on the 71st hole as well. Going low won't bother him. He's posted 24-under and 20-under in his two TOUR victories.
 

Stats Matter:

Par 4 Scoring Average:

1Scottie Scheffler
2Patrick Cantlay
T3Jason Day
T3Jon Rahm
T6Thomas Detry
T6Denny McCarthy
T6Xander Schauffele
T9Tony Finau
T9Tyrrell Hatton
T9Max Homa

With a stock Par-70 in action, 12 Par 4 holes are on the card. The streak of six consecutive winners leading the event in this category ended in 2021. Harris English was sixth that season, while Schauffele checked in last year at T4. 
 

Birdie Average:

1Jon Rahm
2Patrick Cantlay
3Tony Finau
4Scottie Scheffler
5Max Homa
6Cameron Young
7Taylor Montgomery
8Sahith Theegala
9Rickie Fowler
10Viktor Hovland

If the average winning score is around 16-under, birdies on the card will be the order of the week. After putting last week on greens running 13 feet and up, the field will disable the parking brake and give them a run. Will Gordon made 27 birdies on his debut in 2020 for T3. A ton of experience isn't required to contend. 
 

Sleepers:

Denny McCarthy (75/1)
McCarthy lost to Hovland at Memorial in a playoff and picked up T20 last week. Fighting the trend of first-time winners here, but lights-out short game never hurts.

Mark Hubbard (125/1)
Cashed seven straight with six of those T30 or better. T6 at RBC CO and T9 at Colonial are the highlights.

Beau Hossler (150/1)
Cashed eight straight on TOUR and has a pair of top-10 paydays here.

Chez Reavie (225/1)
2019 winner added another T8 last season. 
 

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