By News Team
22nd June 2021
With five of the world’s top nine in the world teeing it up, this week’s Travelers Championship has all the makings of a real cracker.
Given his heroics at Torrey Pines last week, it’s unsurprising that Jon Rahm isn’t playing, but with the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay and Patrick Reed in attendance, there is more than enough star quality to keep us entertained.
Here’s our preview ahead of Thursday’s opening round.
Course form points to Streelman
When narrowing down a tournament field, the tried and tested analogy of ‘horses for courses’ often works wonders and that’s certainly the case with KEVIN STREELMAN and TPC River Highlands. The 42-year-old has played the course in Connecticut 13 times in his career and has made the cut on 10 occasions. He’s finished inside the top 25 six times and the top 10 five times, while he also has a second and a win to his name too. In short, it’s very rare that Streelman isn’t somewhere near the top of the leaderboard at this event.
As mentioned, he was a winner here in 2014 and was runner-up to Dustin Johnson last year – a strong case in itself. However, it’s not like the American doesn’t come into this tournament in good form, as one of the older players on the PGA Tour he is seemingly getting better with age. Since back-to-back missed cuts at the end of April, he’s played in five tournaments with his worst finish being a tie for 26th and while that is impressive form in itself, two of those have been in Majors. He tied for eighth at the PGA Championship and then tied for 15th at the U.S. Open last week, so he’s proven he can compete with the world’s best.
He does need to improve his putting – ranked 100th on the tour this season – but he was 23rd in that category at the U.S. Open, so he might have turned a corner with the flat stick. If he can keep that going, a combination of great course and current form makes him a very interesting proposition at 28/1.
Captain America to the rescue
Going back through the recent winners of this event, it’s pretty clear that strong putters prosper at TPC River Highlands. 2020 winner Johnson ranked seventh for Strokes Gained: Putting, while previous champions Chez Reavie (13th in 2019), Bubba Watson (11th in 2015), Kevin Streelman (5th in 2014), Ken Duke (14th in 2013) and Freddie Jacobson (1st in 2011) all ranked highly too. As such, you’ve got have a dab hand with the flat stick on side this week and the man who fits the bill is PATRICK REED at 22/1.
Since winning the Farmers Insurance Open in late January, Reed has been steady if not spectacular with four top 10s in 11 starts. And while his long game is perhaps still not where he quite wants it, his putting has continued to flourish with the American now ranked 5th in SG: Putting this season. TPC River Highlands isn’t particularly easy, but the score tends to be well under par and thus birdies are very much the order of the day – a factor that should suit Reed. He’s won nine times on the PGA Tour in his career so far and all bar one of those victories have come with a double-digit winning score. When birdies are required on a regular basis, the tournament becomes somewhat of a putting competition and there aren’t many better on the greens than Reed, so he’ll be hopeful of contending this week.
Reed has four top-25s at this event, including a solo fifth in 2017, and he’ll take great confidence from a closing 67 at Torrey Pines last week.