Bryson DeChambeau Over Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson: How to Bet the Round 1 PGA TOUR Live Featured Groups
Scott Halleran, Getty Images. Pictured: Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy
At last week’s RBC Heritage, it was viable to fade the superstars of the field’s upper tier – even if that strategy had mixed results, with Webb Simpson winning while Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka each made a run up the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon.
That’s a much less feasible plan this week.
Considering so many of the best players in the Travelers Championship field – which includes nine of the top-10 on the current world ranking – have some semblance of course history and most have competed during the past two weeks, it’s imaginable that any of them can be holding the trophy Sunday evening.
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If we can envision them winning this event, then we can certainly see any of them getting off to a hot start in Thursday’s opening round.
This week’s featured groups include most of these stars, but as always, we can look for a slight edge within these matchups.
Bryson DeChambeau (+130) over Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson
Maybe it’s all those protein shakes, but DeChambeau has raced out of the gates this season, posting some solid opening-round numbers so far. In nine starts, he’s only failed to break par once – and that was a 73 at the brutally difficult Arnold Palmer Invitational, which led to a solo fourth-place finish. In fact, he ranks second on the PGA TOUR in R1 scoring average.
The problem here, though, is that McIlroy ranks third, just .02 strokes per round behind him. When in doubt, go with the guy who owns the better combo of recent form and course history – and Bryson has both of those on his side right now.
Justin Thomas (+135) over Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele
Last week, Thomas opened with a ho-hum 1-over 72 at Harbour Town, then posted scores of 66-66-63 in the final three rounds, undoubtedly leaving himself steaming about that slow start.
It should also have him motivated to get going quicker this week, on a course where he’s opened with 69 or better in four of the last five years.
This obviously won’t be an easy one over Koepka and Schauffele, but JT plays some of his best golf when he’s got a little chip on his shoulder and he should have one this week from the very first tee.
Jon Rahm (+130) over Webb Simpson and Chez Reavie
I’m usually uncertain of how to play the most recent winner in his opening round without a week off. And the last four circumstances of this scenario prove why: Daniel Berger followed his win with a 67 the next Thursday; Sungjae Im shot 70, Viktor Hovland ballooned to 77; and Adam Scott posted a 74.
That’s about as much of a mixed bag as it gets, but it’s enough for me to fade Simpson here after a pressure-packed back-nine at Harbour Town. While he’s the defending champion, Reavie isn’t a guy with a ton of offensive firepower, so the default play here is Rahm, though it’s with plenty of hesitation, as he’s failed to break 70 in three of his last four opening rounds.
Jordan Spieth (+200) over Collin Morikawa and Dustin Johnson
I don’t know much about Spieth right now. I don’t know whether he’s going to contend for a title or ingloriously miss a cut. I don’t know whether he’s about to reel off six consecutive birdies or make a triple-bogey. I don’t know anything, really, but what I do know is that his Thursday rounds are almost always a whole lot better than his weekend rounds.
Now, I’m the same guy who listed Spieth as my big fade in this week’s preview and I stand by it, but that doesn’t mean he can’t race off to a hot start before falling off the pace in the final two rounds, just as he did last week.