Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:53 PM
Travelers - Weekend Best Bets
2020 Travelers Championship
It was a close call with our first crack at weekend golf betting last week with Abraham Ancer falling just short. Ancer hit all 18 greens in regulation on Sunday but couldn't make the most of his opportunities.
He finished the tournament 1st in Strokes Gained: Approach (+2.96) and 2nd in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, but lost strokes to the field with the flatstick (-0.22 SG: Putting) and it cost him.
For those of you that were on Sergio Garcia, it's easy to feel your pain as he finished 2nd and 1st in those two respective categories and lost a half-stroke more on the greens then Ancer did, and finished a few spots back with a -19 score.
It's on to this week's event at the Travelers though, as let's see if I can find another couple of guys to really get that Sunday sweat going.
Event So Far
This has been another event where going low is the name of the game, as Mackenzie Hughes almost added his name to the list of PGA players to shoot in the 50's with his first round 60. Who knows how many names are in contention come Saturday evening, as this could end up playing out a lot like last week's tournament where it was a shootout until the end.
Through two rounds you've got Phil Mickelson as one of the names at the top and seemingly a good choice to add. His rounds of 64-63 have been superb in every aspect, as he leads the field in Strokes Gained: Total as well. Yet, all the numbers Phil has put up through two rounds are quite the disparity fro his season long numbers so far, as he's 130th in SG: Total at -.074, and has some rather poor looking negative numbers in all the other Strokes Gained categories that don't involve short game.
That's not to say Mickelson can't keep this up, his resume speaks for itself. And even at 50 years old, it's likely these shorter tracks on Tour where his name will still pop up on leaderboards as we move ahead. But as a favorite now when he came into the event as high as +15000 and you could've got +450 for a Top 20 finish or something like that (I can't remember specifically), it's easy to pass on Mickelson on both his price point and the likelihood that his stats for this tournament come back to his yearly ones.
So let's get to this week's additions, as the first name is a rather easy one to make given my pre-tournament selections on Bryson Dechambeau and Xander Schauffele are still in pocket as well. Obviously with that being the case, any persuasion you made need to jump on either of those guys can be found there. They would definitely be two names added here if they weren't already on the card.
After the Cut
Odds to Win Bets
Rory McIlroy (+450)
Can't say that this is a wager that I feel strongly confident about, but with those other two names already in pocket, the prudent thing to do is to add a piece of McIlroy to the portfolio. Obviously if this is the route I knew I'd be taking on Friday night, simply adding a small piece of McIlroy at his pre-tournament price would have been the thing to do, because after all he's the #1 player in the world and you don't need me spouting off all his fantastic numbers as support for his case.
Truth be told, I preferred to take the wait and see approach with Rory because I wasn't sure about the complete state of his game with some yo-yo rounds the past few weeks and was happy to stay away. He proved me wrong with his play on Thursday, and even on a Friday where Rory didn't particularly look like he was having much fun, he still carded a -2 round to sit at -9. If he really starts to get the scent of a possible victory here, I'd want at least a part of that as sort of a hedge on those other two names mentioned earlier.
Finally, if I'm of the belief that Phil likely comes back to the field, not sure how I could think otherwise for the other two names up there with Mickelson. Will Gordon has less than 30 PGA Tour rounds under his belt, and Mackenzie Hughes is like the younger version of Mickelson in that he's played well over his head statistically through two rounds in all the long game categories. He ranks 206th, 188th, and 190th in SG: Off-the-tee, approach, and tee-to-green, all of which are some ugly looking negative numbers. Chances are he'll come back to the field as well.
Firing on Rory gives the portfolio another very strong horse behind Dechambeau and Schauffele in the race to catch those guys, and even if it's for a half-unit, as I mentioned earlier, it's the prudent thing to do.
Victor Hovland +2000
It might be a tad of a big ask for Hovland to come and win this thing from five shots back given some of the names in front of and around him, and I do acknowledge that. This is still a young guy with boatloads of talent on the golf course and a few wins are coming in the next few years for this guy. More relevant to this week though is the fact that there are 19 guys with a SG: Total of +2.70 or better, and the only names in that group that are losing strokes on the greens are Brendon Todd (-0.18) and Hovland (-0.36).
There is no one ahead of Hovland on the leaderboard with better SG: Approach numbers so far this week, and only Niemann, Todd, Mickelson, and Kyle Stanley have put up better SG: Total numbers than Hovland as well. Obviously, Todd's name comes up there again and his +4000 outright price is worth at least a sniff, but he's also in a similar boat to Mickelson/Hughes where he's statistically played well over his head relative to his overall numbers this year. That makes passing on him a little easier.
Side note: Joakim Niemann leads the way in that category and has the worst SG: Putting numbers of anyone who made the cut at -1.83. He may be too far back for an outright look, but if you believe his putting numbers should positively regress – he is +.052 in SG: Putting on the year – he's probably worth some sort of investment in head-to-head matchups this weekend.
Obviously I'm hoping for a similar improvement in Hovland's putting this week, and with him being a positive putter statistically this year, it's worth adding him to the weekend portfolio as well.