Readying you for the second major championship of the year
Yardage: 6,844 – Par 70
Purse : $ 7M
Field: 150 Players
*Past Travelers Champions
For the second year in a row Brooks Koepka showed nerves of steel, holding off an incredible performance from Tommy Fleetwood to win, becoming the first back-to-back U.S Open Champion since Curtis Strange in 1988-89. After another “the course is too hard” debacle, Koepka repeating as champion actually takes a little bit of heat off of the USGA. The tee times that players were given proved to be a crucial component to success, with the greens seeming to get harder and faster as the day went along. With Koepka winning for the second time in as many years, the USGA can point to the fact that the same players were competing down the stretch as last year, so maybe the results weren’t so random after all.
The second major championship of the year is annually followed by a trip to Connecticut for The Travelers Championship. As you can expect, many of the best players in the world will be taking the week off after grinding it out at Shinnecock for two to four days. However, we do have a nice little group at the top with four of the top eight golfers in the world making an appearances: Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, and Jordan Spieth. Seven more golfers ranking between 11 and 25 in the world will tee it up in Cromwell this week. Those are Patrick Reed, Paul Casey, Marc Leishman, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Xander Schauffele. This is one of the better fields I’ve seen in a tournament following a major. There’s some more stiff competition after the Top 25 group in Patrick Cantlay, Emiliano Grillo, Adam Hadwin, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Kyle Stanley, Charley Hoffman, Zach Johnson, Si Woo Kim, Luke List, Louis Oosthuizen, Pat Perez, and Brendan Steele.
The Pete Dye designed TPC River Highlands, is the shortest course that many of these guys will play on all year. At 6,844 yards, the Pete Dye method comes into full play here. Players must be accurate, and thoughtful off the tee. Good drive percentage, rather than sheer power, or number of fairways hit, is the goal. Finding proper angles into greens, and missing on the correct side on approach shots to minimize damage is the way to pick up shots. Players who gain in strokes gained: approach and hit a lot of greens in regulation will have a lot of looks at birdie. The bentgrass greens at TPC River Highlands are the complete opposite of the Poa Annua greens of Shinnecock. They should be slow and smooth, unlike the bumpy lightning greens of Shinnecock Hills. WIth slower greens, putting is devalued a bit, competitors simply want players who can get on the green on nearly every hole.
TPC River Highlands biggest course defense is the 119 sand traps that lay on the grounds. Player who strike it well enough, should be able to avoid the bulk of them, but it’s never a bad idea to target players with good sand save percentage. With 12 par 4s on the course, and an average winning score of around 13 or 14 under par, players must be making birdies on the Par 4s, where they’ll be playing two-thirds of the tournament. The U.S Open is over now. Par is no longer going to get a win. We’re off the steroidal golf courses and back to a site where players will be shooting regularly in the 60s. Par 4 Birdie or better percentage will be necessary just to make the cut.
Strokes Gained: Approach
Good Drive Percentage
Greens in Regulation
Sand Save Percentage
Par 4 Birdie or Better