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Risk and Reward - The Travelers Championship

I must still be reeling from the end of the U.S. Open. I can't seem to shake the fact that we're experience one of just seven years ever where one player has captured both the year's first two majors. Its really pretty exceptional, like watching your drunken buddy somehow manage to win your town's annual hot dog eating contest two years in a row, only with actual skill involved. Sure, there's something to be said about inebriated bravado but to hit a 284-yard 3-wood to 15 feet with the tournament on the line take more than bravado. It takes stones. Big ones. Like Stone of Triumph big. Its a mystery to me that Spieth was able to make the difficult walk around Chambers Bay dragging those suckers around.
It wouldn't be golf without talk about balls, right? I've got dozens of them in my garage just waiting to be lost. The winner of this week's Travelers Championship will need to avoid losing theirs, however, as it generally ruins a good score. Trust me, I'm an expert in these sorts of things and its this type of in depth analysis that brings you here.
A few notable withdrawals from this weeks tournament, first. Jason Day, in what might likely be the season's least surprising move, has withdrawn. Kevin Chappell, after grabbing a 48th place finish at the U.S. Open, has opted out. Finally, Billy Hurley III, has pulled out from the tournament as well. If you've got any of them in any league, you should swap them immediately. Or don't, I'm not your boss.
My Power Rankings draw on statistics only, while Risk and Reward draws more on gut feel and intuition about players who missed my Top 15. In this column, you'll find "Lay-Up", "Going For It", and "Hazard". Look for more subjective analysis here, as opposed to the Power Rankings, where I rely strictly on data. Lay-Up may contain players who, barring a Great Flood, will bank you some points. Going For It is where I'll have players that may have missed the Power Rankings or who I feel present an excellent opportunity to pick up a win, but carry some considerable risk. Lastly, Hazards, where I often find myself on any given Sunday, should be avoided.


Jason Kokrak - TA: 90.83, CHG: (-9.2) - I'm not just out on a limb here, I'm six stories up clinging to the tiniest twig. He's been playing... how do I say this nicely... like a gorilla with a mallet tied to his hands. No, that's not quite it, too mean to the gorilla. Kokrak missed four straight cuts just prior to logging a rousing 64th place finish at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. So to answer your question, I have gone crazy, but that was well before I started writing this. He's long, putts well enough and hits enough greens that he's a good fit for the course. Just ignore the 84th place finish in his only start here.
Patrick Reed - TA: 40, CHG: (+0.6) - Back to our regularly scheduled programming. Reed looked solid at Chambers Bay, right up to his 76 on Saturday, effectively destroying his chances at defeating Jordan Spieth. On a normal course, Reed might just be Spieth's evil twin. He's not the longest, the most accurate, or the best ball-striker, but he's just got this knack for getting the ball in the hole. When he's on, which he definitely looked this past week, he's worth starting. 
Brendan Steele - TA: 61.25, CHG: (-7.6) - Perennially one of the longest on TOUR, Steele is every bit the personification of the metal from which he takes his name. Ranked 12th in driving distance and 19th in ball-striking, he's well equipped to handle TPC River Highlands. Historically, this is borne out by a 5th place finish last year and two 13th place finishes in the three preceding starts at the Travelers.


Nicholas Thompson - TA: 69.13, CHG: (0) - Plays much worse than his statistics would suggest. Not a ringing endorsement, but he seems to be comfortable at River Highlands. Thompson is 3-for-4 with a Top 15 and Top 25 at the tournament and he hit tons of greens, an advantage in a relative shootout like the Travelers. Definition of a long shot, but never risk, never reward.

Jhonattan Vegas - TA: 63, CHG: (-12.8) - Venezuelan gunslinger meets a course ripe for blasting. Vegas is long enough to be successful here but his results, while decent, are hardly enough to secure firm belief. His best finish at this tournament is a paltry 31st chased down with a 33rd to back it up. In a field lacking some depth, he should be a solid value pick among the bottom rungs.

Martin Laird - TA: 73.63, CHG: (+8.4) - Like Vegas, his game is a good fit for the Travelers Championship. Unlike Vegas, he's got little in the way of decent history or form to back him up. His upside, however, comes from a 22nd rank in driving distance and a 37th in greens in regulation. He's been in a lull since a T7 at the Farmers Insurance Open and this course should make for a perfect time to return to form.


J.J. Henry - TA: 81.5, CHG: (-8.6) - The former Travelers champion, way back in 2006 when it was the Buick Championship, just simply has not been very consistent or good for the last two years or so. He's still longer than average and hits tons of greens, but at 157th in strokes-gained putting, he just isn't rolling the rock well enough to contend, much less make cuts.

Stuart Appleby - TA: 57.75, CHG: (-15.6) - His course history looks as appetizing as a plate of Applebee's boneless wings (if overpriced, homogenous bar food is your thing, just go with it.) with two Top 20s and a Top 10 in his last three starts. Here's the caveat, it would appear Appleby is playing a limited schedule this season, having entered just seven tournaments this year, missing the cut in his last three. He's no Steve Stricker, so don't expect him to parachute in and pull out a Top 25.

My Picks - 180th of 857 - Experts League - 9865 points
  • Bubba Watson
  • Brandt Snedeker
  • Tony Finau
  • Patrick Reed
Yahoo! - 2nd of 50 - Reddit/r/Golf League - 94th Percentile - 3953rd Overall
  • Bubba Watson (S)
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Brandt Snedeker (S)
  • Paul Casey (S)
  • Billy Horschel
  • Marc Leishman
  • Patrick Reed (S)
  • Tony Finau
Golf Channel - 22nd of 100 - Reddit/r/Golf League - 11325th Overall
  • Brandt Snedeker
  • Justin Thomas
  • Tony Finau
  • Hudson Swafford

Thanks for reading!
Kyle Donovan