Read The Line Betting Breakdown: Travelers Championship

Read The Line Betting Breakdown: Travelers Championship

This article is part of our Golf Picks series.

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2024 Travelers Championship: Signature season


Seriously, what more can be said about the 124th U.S. Open that hasn't been summarized by Johnson Wagner and reposted 10,000 times across social media. Much like Valhalla, we received an epic ending between two titans of the game. The result caused Rory McIlroy to withdraw from the Travelers Championship, while the champion has been on a media tour worthy of a historic major championship winner. Whether you like back, to back, to back elite tournaments or not, we have one more signature event this season and it takes place at TPC River Highlands.

In the northeast, we call it the Greater Hartford Open or the GHO! One of the few older small market PGA TOUR events that has evolved and remained on the modern-day schedule. A credit to Travelers for their treatment of the players, media, volunteers, and fans, they built a truly signature week and have been rewarded for their efforts. With Rory's withdrawal, we now have 71 players in Cromwell, Connecticut competing for $20 million and a first-place check of $4 million. There is no cut this week, so even if players are feeling a little fatigue on Thursday, I believe the best will be in contention come Sunday.

2024 Travelers Championship: TPC test

The lovely weather from Pinehurst must have been on the next flight up the East Coast. The forecast calls for triple digit heat indexes again this week. Even up here in New England, the highs will be in the mid-90s with very little wind. The breeze won't get over 10 mph, and this walk is far from flat. Two straight weeks of intense heat and pressure will test these guys again both mentally and physically. Humidity and heat also bring along the chance for thunderstorms each afternoon. Should they arrive, the guys will also need a little patience.

With very little rain in June, the course feels and looks firm and fast through the practice rounds. That should keep the winning score closer to the 10-year average of 17-under-par. If you remember, Keegan Bradley won at 23-under-par a year ago. That course was drenched and the TPC test was more scoring than anything else. Those same 10 winners averaged +5100 for their pre-tournament odds. Tournament officials have also studied the data and felt a need to counter Rory's comment from a year ago that the course was "obsolete." A couple of the landing areas have been reduced and obstacles have been added to the rough along both par-5s. Overall the changes are nice, but I do NOT believe that will deter these guys from bombing away.

This golf course is a par-70 layout covering 6,835 yards. That's 753 yards less than #2 a week ago. There is literally nothing you can do to stop these men from scoring here. If it remains firm and fast, then it's possible to keep in under 20, but overall, I would rather see the TOUR embrace the scoring and give us a Valhalla like finish. Three of the last 10 events have ended in a playoff. Just like last week, the par-70 scorecard makes a huge difference. Certain players are just better at scoring without those two extra par 5s. As you look into the best strokes gained players at TPCRH, also consider other par-70 venues and their results. A comp doesn't always have to be a course!

Many of those names make perfect sense. Considering the competitive course history, this is one of those weeks where fit and recent form are the two keys you need to build a competitive card. Ten of the 12 par 4s are under 450 yards. Again, this is a 6,800 yard course. I'll explain the skill set more in the outrights preview, but 69 bunkers and five holes where water comes into play won't slow anyone down. Forty-five percent of the approach shots are hit between 125-175 yards. That's a scoring club for this field and proximity really matters when creating real birdie chances.

The course has 12 holes where the birdie rate is over 15 percent. In contrast, only seven holes have a bogey rate over that value. Greens averaging 5,000 sq/ft are small targets, but these guys are coming in from close range. I'm going to enjoy our last signature event of the season. I don't care for the small field or no cut feature, but the last two have been really good on Sunday. Much like Rory, after this week we won't see these guys together again until Scotland. Enjoy the show and if you are with me in Connecticut... drink some water!

2024 Travelers Championship: Throwing darts

The last 10 winners of the Travelers have shared some very specific traits. The first falls under the strokes gained par-4 category. Those 10 Travelers champs have gained an average of 11 strokes on the field the year that they won in par 4 scoring. With 12 par-4s, or 48 over four days, this is a considerable advantage. To dive in further, the 400-450 yard par-4 range was the length bucket where they gained the most strokes. Believe it or not, a 425-yard par-4 is a medium sized birdie hole. The players who routinely score in this range have a huge advantage this week.

The second skill I have my eyes on is putting. Eight of the last 10 winners have gained over three strokes against the field en route to winning. Pete Dye's design allows you to make putts. The challenge comes more in just getting there. Some greens do have sections, shelves, and specific plateaus, but overall, the approaches are coming in from so close most will be putting from inside 25 feet. The winners average 22 sub-par scores; to get there a player must hit 30+ approaches in birdie range. Of course, approach play is just one part of the test, converting them is what leads you to the winner's circle.

TPC River Highlands is a proximity contest. Over the last five winners, the approach average is five strokes over the field. We already know they are hitting a wedge, nine, eight iron in. The PGA TOUR's best are great from this range and after the last two long approach weeks, I am certain they welcome an easier challenge. Especially one where the results are far more positive. Don't lose complete sight of long iron play as one par three is over 225 yards and the two par-5s will require accurate long-range approaches.

Missing the fairway carries a heavy price tag on this course. Those design changes I mentioned earlier are only going to make this course characteristic even more problematic. I still think the guys will bomb and gauge, but playing from the fairway will help you separate and score. Comps like Valspar, Sedgefield, Sea Island and others are a race to grabbing as many sub-par scores as possible. The more approaches played from the fairway the better. I like accurate drivers here. Pay attention to the par-3s as well. The leaders gain considerably more on the 3s than the par-5s. Mainly because everyone birdies the par 5s effectively cancelling out most gains. Play the par 3s under par each day and you'll really be ahead of the curve.

I'm looking for fast starters this week. Keegan went out in 125 (62-63) in the first two rounds. On moving day, he carded a 64! Most of the field will be feeling a fatigue factor from Pinehurst. They will start slowly and try to build birdies over four rounds. This course is too easy for that strategy. You must attack early and often. I didn't just look at BoB%. I also considered round one and two scoring averages. In track meets like the Travelers, it is important to take aggressive players. Guys who can go deep repeatedly in the early rounds. Put a large part of the field out of reach and then close come Sunday.

After two US Open like weeks at the Memorial and Pinehurst, we don't have to overthink this. The best putters and approach players from around 150 yards will contend. They must be in great form to win a signature event and have shown they can compete in an elite field before. Wrap those skills into a nice player profile and you'll have the four names listed below.

2024 Travelers Championship: Outright Winners

Ludvig Aberg (+1600)

The Kid has 14 top-15 finishes since his first PGA TOUR start right here at the Travelers one year ago.

  • Over his last five starts, Ludvig is gaining an average of 8 strokes total against the field.
  • Åberg has five top 25 results in seven signature events this season.
  • He is elite with the driver, wedge, and putter. The same recipe that won him the RSM Classic back in November.

Russell Henley (+4000)

Henley is having his most consistent season ever. In 14 starts, he has eight top-25 finishes.

  • Seventh at the US Open, he led the field in putting at Pinehurst #2.
  • In six starts at TPC River Highlands, Henley has four top 20s.
  • Russell is gaining an average of six strokes total in his last five starts.
  • An incredible positional golf course player, Henley always contends where accuracy counts the most.

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