2019 Travelers Championship Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for TPC River Highlands
John David Mercer, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tommy Fleetwood
- The PGA Tour heads to Hartford, CT for the 2019 Travelers Championship.
- Here are our staff's favorite bets for this week's tournament plus one bonus bet for the BMW International Open.
The week after a major always provides an interesting betting opportunity.
The 2019 Travelers Championship features a strong field, but which big names will be up for it a week after grinding through Pebble Beach for the 2019 U.S. Open?
Brooks Koepka (8-1) is the headliner and the tournament favorite. Koepka is coming off a second-place finish at the U.S. Open, but has not won a non-major since October (CJ Cup).
Behind Koepka are Patrick Cantlay (10-1), Jordan Spieth (16-1) and a whole host of other stars like Justin Thomas (20-1), Jason Day (20-1) and Francesco Molinari (20-1).
Will this be a tournament for the big names? Or will the letdown after a major help a longshot climb the leaderboard?
Our golf experts share their favorite betting angles for this weekend’s PGA action.
The Bet: Emiliano Grillo (-120) over Phil Mickelson
After backtesting all the metrics we have with the FantasyLabs Trends tool, all three of FantasyLabs’ catch-all metrics backtested favorably at TPC River Highlands, and Grillo has the edge in all of them over Mickelson (Grillo listed first):
- Long-Term Adjusted Round Score: 68.9 | 69.1
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: 68.2 | 70.3
- Course Adjusted Round Score: 68.7 | N/A
Grillo has been the superior golfer to Phil in every facet in both the long and short term, and he’s a much better fit overall.
This week, I’ll also be weighing Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, along with par-4 efficiency from 400-450 yards since there are eight par 4s from such yardages this week.
Here’s how each golfer has faired over their past 50 rounds:
- Strokes Gained: Ball Striking: 7th | 90th
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee: 26th | 106th
- Strokes Gained: Par 4s (400-450 yards): 8th | 70th
Despite his 58th-place finish at the U.S. Open, Grillo was excellent, gaining 6.2 strokes tee-to-green and 8.4 strokes on approach. His main issue was putting, as he lost 6.3 strokes putting.
Still, I’ll side with the guy who has been striking the ball much better in both the long and short term.
The Bet: Bubba Watson (+100) over Louis Oosthuizen
Oosthuizen is coming off a nice seventh-place performance at the U.S. Open, but prior to that he had been struggling a bit, finishing 57th and 60th at Memorial and the PGA Championship.
Still, that seventh is likely creating some recency bias, especially vs. Bubba, who missed the cut last week at the U.S. Open and at the PGA Championship last month.
Course history has proven to be valuable at River Highlands, and it’s especially important for Bubba, who has his courses. An easy heuristic for Bubba: When he likes a course, bet him, as he usually continues to crush at it. When he has had a lack of success over time at a course, fade him.
Bubba loves River Highlands, winning three times there, including last year. Thus, a model that doesn’t heavily weight course history likely won’t pick up on his chances here, and I think that, combined with recency bias, is why Oosty is a favorite. I’ll take Bubba on his course.
The Bet: Bryson DeChambeau (+105) over Tommy Fleetwood
DeChambeau is a form player who will let you know with his body language on the range and on the course when he does not have it.
Since his missed cut at the PGA, he appears to be trending up again, gaining a combined 9 strokes total over the field in his last two starts at the Memorial and the US Open. He has gained 4 strokes putting in each of those events and the irons returned to peak DeChambeau levels last week as he gained 4 strokes on approach over the field.
Fleetwood, on the other hand, has lost a combined 2 Strokes Gained: Total to the field over his last two starts and limped to a T-65 finish at Pebble Beach last week, a course that should have suited him well if he was in form. Fleetwood has never teed it up at TPC River Highlands while Bryson has made the cut in all three of his starts, including a ninth place finish here last year.
For plus money give me the scientist in this matchup and keep an eye on DeChambeau going forward, as he tends to heat up during the second half of the season in his short career.
The Bet: Martin Kaymer to win the BMW International Open (+1600)
Yes, I’m aware the headline says “Travelers Championship” but my eyes are elsewhere. We’ll have to cross the pond for my favorite bet of the week, but I reallllly like this one.
Kaymer is fresh off a U.S. Open during which he gained more than 10 strokes on the field on approach shots — which is a spectacularly silly number, especially for someone who wasn’t in contention.
Now, he’ll head back to familiar surroundings in his native Germany, where he was T-2 last year when he wasn’t playing nearly as well as he is right now.
Against a decent field, though nothing like the ones he’s seen in the U.S. recently, expect him to make a few more putts and be in the mix come Sunday. And really, with his propensity to run away from fields when he’s playing his best golf, there’s a chance this one isn’t even a sweat down the stretch.