This year’s Travelers Championship field is loaded.
Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas and U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka highlight the field at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.
To win here, one has to go low – really low. When Spieth won last year’s Travelers, he shot 12 under, which tied the highest winning score at this event. Kenny Perry shot 22 under when he won in 2009 and Bubba Watson was 16 under to lift the trophy three years ago.
TPC River Highlands fits a player who can bomb it and give himself plenty of wedges and short irons into these smaller-than-average greens. Scrambling is important, too, because of the thick rough around the greens.
Some statistics to look at this week: greens in regulation, proximity to the hole, par breakers, scrambling and strokes gained: tee-to-green.
Here are my top 20 fantasy options for the Travelers
1. Justin Thomas: Tied for third here in 2016, but also missed cuts last year and in 2015. Has five top-10s, including a win, in last nine Tour starts with nothing worse than T-25. Ranks second in SGTTG and fifth in par breakers.
2. Webb Simpson: He’s perfect in eight trips to TPC River Highlands while posting top-10s in 2013 and last year. T-10 at U.S. Open continues his strong season. Ranks third in scrambling.
3. Patrick Reed: Missed two straight cuts here before sharing 11th and tying for fifth in his most recent trips. Fourth-place finish at U.S. Open was his sixth top-10 in last eight starts. Ranks 16th in par breakers and 23rd in SGTTG.
4. Paul Casey: Made his Travelers debut in 2015 and finished second. Has gone T-17, T-5 since. T-16 at U.S. Open was his seventh top-20 in his last eight starts. Ranks 13th in SGTTG and 29th in par breakers.
5. Rory McIlroy: Tied for 17th in his Travelers debut last year. Was T-8 at Memorial before MC at Shinnecock Hills. Ranks 20th in SGTTG and T-23 in par breakers, but is 165th in GIR.
6. Ryan Moore: Has five top-7s and just one MC in 10 starts here. Also boasts a 67.68 scoring average in 38 rounds. In last seven Tour starts, he has four top-16s. Ranks fifth in scrambling, eighth in SGTTG.
7. Jordan Spieth: Won in his Travelers debut last year, opening in 63 and finishing it off via a hole-out bunker shot in a playoff. But has gone five starts now without a top-20 and missed two straight cuts, including last week at the U.S. Open. Despite putting struggles, he does rank second in GIR, fourth in SGTTG, sixth in par breakers and 16th in proximity. He could bounce back this week.
8. Brendan Steele: Has six top-25s in seven Travelers starts, including a T-14 last year where he shot in red numbers all four rounds. Has made 11 of 12 cuts since Safeway victory, but also has just one top-10 during that span. Ranks T-11 in GIR and T-30 in par breakers.
9. Brooks Koepka: Followed T-51 Travelers finish in 2014 with a T-9 in 2016. Skipped last year following his U.S. Open win at Erin Hills, but is expected to tee it up despite his win last week at Shinnecock Hills. Ranks 22nd in par breakers.
10. Daniel Berger: Has a scoring average of 67.13 in two Travelers starts, tying for fifth in 2016 and losing to Spieth in a playoff last year. T-6 at U.S. Open was his first top-10 since last summer’s John Deere Classic.
11. Jason Day: Last year’s MC here followed finishes of T-18 in 2014 and T-27 in 2008. Coming off MC at U.S. Open. Will need his tee (13th in SG off the tee) and short games (sixth in scrambling) to offset his struggling approach play (200th in proximity). Ranks T-8 in par breakers.
12. Keegan Bradley: Perfect in seven tries at Travelers with a T-8 finish last year. Coming off MC at U.S. Open, but was T-7 at Players. Ranks seventh in SGTTG, T-13 in proximity and 14th in GIR.
13. Bryson DeChambeau: Has gone T-47, T-26 in two trips to Travelers. Followed Memorial win with T-25 at U.S. Open. Ranks T-8 in par breakers, 12th in SGTTG and 21st in GIR.
14. Charley Hoffman: Coming off T-3 finish last year at TPC River Highlands, where he’d made seven straight cuts. Has two other top-10s here, including T-2 in 2012. T-20 at U.S. Open was his best finish since Masters.
15. Zach Johnson: In 12 Travelers starts, he’s made nine cuts with two top-10s, including a solo sixth in 2015. Just posted T-12 at U.S. Open. Ranks T-1 in proximity and 28th in SGTTG.
16. Patrick Cantlay: Tied for 24th here in 2011, but missed cuts in 2012 and ’14. Followed fourth at Memorial with T-45 at U.S. Open. Ranks 11th in SGTTG and 27th in par breakers.
17. Russell Knox: Won here in 2016, but has just one other finish better than T-61 in five other Travelers appearances. Coming off T-12 at U.S. Open. Ranks 10th in GIR and T-17 in proximity.
18. Marc Leishman: Hasn’t missed a cut in seven tries here while winning in 2012 and tying for ninth in 2016. Runner-up at Nelson is his only top-40 in last five Tour starts. Ranks 18th in par breakers.
19. Bubba Watson: A two-time winner of the Travelers, in 2010 and ’15, he missed the cut here last year. Does have three other top-6s here, though, plus a 67.65 scoring average in 40 rounds. MC at U.S. Open continued his recent struggles. Ranks T-11 in GIR.
20. Emiliano Grillo: Closed in 67 here last year, but still tied for 43rd in his debut. MC at U.S. Open, but had cracked top 25 five times in previous six starts. Ranks 17th in GIR, 22nd in SGTTG and 28th in par breakers.