Patrick Reed hits out of the bunker on the sixth hole during the second round of the U.S. Open on June 14 (Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Patrick Reed hits out of the bunker on the sixth hole during the second round of the U.S. Open on June 14 (Marcio Jose Sanchez)|Associated Press

Golf - Kern picks The Travelers Championship; Among the contenders are Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey, Phil Mickelson

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

For the longest while last week at the U.S. Open, it looked like I might have picked my fifth winner of the season and second in three weeks. Justin Rose, who went off at 20-1 odds, was one shot off the lead early on the final nine. But he couldn’t keep it up, and wound up tying for third as nobody, not even Brooks Keopka, was going to catch Gary Woodland. Another one of the three guys I took, Xander Schauffele (25-1), also tied for third. And Matt Kuchar, my longshot at close to 50, hung in there for much of the championship before tying for 16th with a closing 2-over par 73. So it was a good week, just not good enough.

Now it’s on to the Travelers Championship, in Connecticut, which has actually become a pretty decent post-major tournament stop. Koepka is playing in it, and is obviously the favorite at 7-1. But remember he hasn’t won many non-majors in his career. Just four of the last nine majors he’s teed it up in, to go with two seconds in the three this year. So maybe check back at next month’s British Open, although I’m not sure I will take him there either. But it is hard not to, that’s for sure.

Patrick Cantlay, who won the Memorial three weeks back when I had him at 18-1, is 10. Jordan Spieth, who hasn’t won in almost two years, is 12. Francesco Molinari is 14. Paul Casey is 18. He’s been in the top five the last two years here, and three of the last four. Bubba Watson is 20. He’s the defending champion, and a three-time winner of this event. He also has two top fives. Jason Day and Justin Thomas are 20 as well. Tony Finau is 25, along with Tommy Fleetwood. Bryson DeChambeau, who’s won four times in the last year, is 27. Louis Oosthuizen, who played well at Pebble Beach, is 30. Marc Leischman is 35. Ditto Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson, who won this thing back-to-back in the early 2000s. Brent Snedeker is 40. Chez Reavie, who had a really good Open, is 50.

There are certainly others out there, but I can only list so many.

I can’t go with Koepka, just because. I could go with Cantlay, but I won’t because winning twice in a month is a lot to ask. I can’t pass on Paul Casey’s track record at this venue, so I’ll give him a shot. About the only thing he hasn’t done here is lift a trophy. Maybe it’s about time. Or not. The same can be said about Bubba Watson’s history at this event. But I’m going to stay away, for whatever the reasons. Maybe I just don’t see him going back-to-back. I will take a stab at Bryson DeChambeau, who is playing well but with little to show for it lately. And for my third I’ll take Justin Thomas, since he hits it long and might just be finally getting over his wrist issues. The other bloke I was looking at was Oosthuizen, who now will probably come up big.

In my yearlong pool that I have to select in December I’ve got Brian Harman, who’s like 100-1. Which tells you all you need to know about how I’m doing in that adventure. Yo, I just try to call them as I see them. Good and otherwise.

Pick: Paul Casey (18-1)
Pick: Bryson DeChambeau (27-1)
Pick: Justin Thomas (20-1)

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