PGA Tour Picks: Travelers Championship Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
Well, that was an interesting weekend of golf at Shinnecock Hills, wasn't it? Where to begin with the story lines from the U.S. Open?
Brooks Koepka deserves the first mention as he became the first player since Curtis Strange (1988-89) to win back-to-back U.S. Opens, and the two Koepka won couldn't have been more different. Last year, Erin Hills in Wisconsin was completely defenseless and Koepka blistered the course for a 16-under total - tying the best score in U.S. Open history relative to par. At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka won at 1 over. Not bad for a guy who missed four months earlier this year, including the Masters, with a serious wrist injury.
Really, the biggest story of the 118th U.S. Open: the course. It was the clear winner, at least the first three days. Most of the biggest names in golf missed the cut with the ridiculously hard conditions. Rory McIlroy opened with an 80 to MC. Jason Day a 79. Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Jon Rahm all had 78s. By Saturday night, those left standing were fuming at the USGA, which completely embarrassed itself with the course setup.
The USGA also embarrassed itself with what happened to Phil Mickelson in the third round, when he admitted that he cheated on purpose by hitting his putt that was still moving. Mickelson said he was willing to take the two-shot penalty because he thought the putt was going to roll back into a bunker and he was looking at an even worse score if that happened. Amazingly, the USGA didn't disqualify Mickelson, who shot a third-round 81. I guarantee you that if it wasn't Mickelson but some Average Joe golfer like, I don't know, Russell Henley, that Mr. Average Joe is DQ'd. I actually enjoyed all the theater; some fans don't like watching guys hack it around the course and look like a regular duffer. I do.
At least the USGA softened things up Sunday (admitting it goofed in the earlier rounds), which saw England's Tommy Fleetwood nearly rally from way back by tying a U.S. Open record with a 63. He had very good birdie chances on holes 16-18 to set the tournament record with a 62 but missed each putt and would finish one shot behind Koepka, who now has more U.S. Open victories (two) and other PGA Tour wins (one).
My winning pick was Rickie Fowler, whose chances blew up with a third-round 84. To show how different the conditions were from Saturday to Sunday, Fowler came back with a 65 to finish T20 at 11 over. I did get both Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson for Top 10s.
Things will be much, much easier this week at the Travelers Championship, held at TPC River Highlands outside Hartford. How much easier? Jim Furyk set the PGA Tour record with a 58 here in the fourth round of the 2016 tournament - and didn't even win, Russell Knox did. The last time someone won the Travelers single digits under par was 25 years ago. TPC River Highlands isn't long at all, a par 70 measuring 6,841 yards.
Spieth is the defending champion, winning in his tournament debut. He holed a bunker shot on the first hole of the playoff to beat Daniel Berger; both had finished at 12-under 268. Only one player has ever repeated here: Mickelson in 2001-02. He's not playing this year, but there it is a surprisingly strong field considering its placement on the schedule.
Golf Odds: Travelers Championship Favorites
There are four co-favorites at Bovada : Koepka, Spieth, McIlroy and Justin Thomas all at +1200. I'm frankly stunned that Koepka is playing as I assumed he would withdraw on Monday not just because he won Sunday but also appeared to injure his wrist on one shot out of the rough. Those are four of the five Top 10 players in the world in the field along with Day (+1800).
Spieth doesn't look quite right as the U.S. Open was his second straight missed cut after the Memorial. McIlroy had back-to-back Top 10s worldwide before his U.S. Open disaster. Least those two and Day are well-rested. Thomas was T25 last week but has missed the cut in this event in two of his past three visits. He was third in 2016.
Patrick Reed (+1600), who was in contention Sunday at Shinnecock, and Paul Casey (+1800) round out the favorites. Reed finished fourth Sunday and was fifth here in 2017. Casey is off a T16 and has been in the Top 5 in two of three trips here, with a co-runner-up three years ago.
Golf Odds: Travelers Championship Picks
Not a ton of props as of this writing, not a huge surprise off the U.S. Open and with the World Cup ongoing. Hey, bookmakers need a day off too.
For a Top 10, I like Casey (+135), Berger (+200), Ryan Moore (+275) and Charley Hoffman (+300) - so my winner is coming from there. For top European, I like Casey (+200). Head-to-head, go Moore (-115) over two-time champion Bubba Watson (-115), Webb Simpson (-110) over former winner Marc Leishman (-120), Casey (-150) over Bryson DeChambeau (+115), and Thomas (-120) over Spieth (-110).
My winner, and also top American (+2500) is Hoffman at +4000. He has five straight Top 26 finishes here (a scoring average of 67.75) with a second, third and seventh in there. Hoffman has done everything but win this tournament.
Two of our top experts both Indian Cowboy and Raphael Esparza offer their expert golf picks every week of the season. Doc's Sports is offering $60 worth of member's picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please for any handicapper and any sport on Doc's Sports list of expert sports handicappers. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free .
Read more articles by Alan Matthews