PGA Tour best bets: Travelers Championship

June 21, 2022 09:10 PM
USATSI_18406970

Matt Fitzpatrick became just the third golfer in history to win the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open on the same course (Jack Nicklaus, 1961 U.S. Amateur and 1972 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach; Juli Inkster, 1980 U.S. Women's Amateur and 2002 U.S. Women's Open at Prairie Dunes) with one of the better ball-striking performances you will see on a major championship Sunday, He hit 17 of 18 greens to finish 6-under par, one stroke ahead of Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler. Fitzpatrick won the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club and the 2022 U.S. Open at anywhere from 25-1 to 34-1, where he was tipped in this column last week to give us our eighth outright winner of the season. 

Hideki Matsuyama had a bogey-free 65 on Sunday, the lowest of the week, to jump up to 3-under par and finish alone in fourth. Defending champion Jon Rahm began the round just a shot off the lead but made five bogeys and only one birdie in a 4-over-par 74 to fall to 12th.

Fitzpatrick led the field for Greens in Regulation (52-for-72, 72.2%) and Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (+ 5.65), while ranking second for Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (+ 4.78), fifth for Driving Accuracy (39-for-56, 69.6%) and 10th for Strokes Gained: Approach (+ 5.73). 

The 27-year-old Englishman has now reached the OWGR Top 10 for the first time in his career. While he will not be part of this week's field at the Travelers Championship, five of the world's Top 10 will be as it’s a short trip from Boston to Hartford. Rory McIlroy (10-1) led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting (+ 9.83) last week but was -4.69 for Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green as he settled for a fifth-place finish (he has finished eighth or better in all three majors this year). McIlroy has three Top 20s at the Travelers in three appearances. Scheffler (11-1), the World No. 1, makes an appearance at the Travelers for the third consecutive year but his best finish was 47th last year. Justin Thomas (12-1) has missed the cut in Hartford in three of six appearances but did finish third here in 2016. Patrick Cantlay (16-1) shot 60 — still the lowest round ever by an amateur on the PGA Tour — here in 2011 when he was a 19-year-old at UCLA. Sam Burns (18-1) was in the mix for a while last weekend but fell to 27th. 

Xander Schauffele (20-1) has two Top 20s in three Travelers appearances. Jordan Spieth (25-1) won the Travelers in his first appearance in a 2017 playoff over Daniel Berger. Going into last week, Tony Finau (33-1) had three Top 5s in his previous five events but missed the cut at The Country Club, as did Sungjae Im (35-1). Joaquin Niemann (35-1) finished fifth in his Travelers debut in 2019. Keegan Bradley (35-1) lost a playoff here in 2019 but has another home game in New England after the Boston crowd spurred him on to a seventh-place finish last week. 

Defending champion Harris English triumphed in an eight-hole playoff last year versus Kramer Hickok and is back to defend his title at a price of anywhere from 100-1 to 125-1. He just returned to the PGA Tour three weeks ago after being out four months due to hip surgery. 

The Event

Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, the Travelers Championship was established in 1952 as the Insurance City Open before it became known as the Greater Hartford Open for most of its existence from 1967-2003. Legendary entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. was a fixture at the Tuesday/Wednesday pro-ams in Hartford and his name was attached to the event from 1973-1988. TPC River Highlands has been the permanent venue for the tournament since 1984.

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