Justin Thomas hits from a trap on the second hole during the first round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament, Thursday, June 18, 2020, in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Justin Thomas hits from a trap on the second hole during the first round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament, Thursday, June 18, 2020, in Hilton Head Island, S.C.|Gerry Broome | Associated Press
Golf

Travelers Championship predictions and picks — where Justin Thomas is the favorite, but not for Mike Kern

In case you missed it, Brooks Koepka was a late withdrawal after his caddie tested positive for Covid-19. Unfortunately, that’s something we have to get more and more used to moving forward.

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

So, this is the way my return to the PGA Tour’s betting has worked so far. Two weeks ago, I had Webb Simpson as one of my picks, and he missed the cut. Then last week, of course, he won. Last week I had Sungjae Im as one of my picks, and he MC’d. Even though he’s been one of the most consistent guys out there. Which probably means we should play him this week again, just because. Just duly noting.

This week it’s the Travelers Championship, up in Connecticut, which is always played the week after the U.S. Open. That is not the case this year, obviously, with the revamped schedule due to the coronavirus. It’s still being held the same week on the calendar, but the Open will not be played now until mid-September, hopefully. So, this week’s field will be different. Twenty of the top 25 in the world are playing. Tiger Woods is still not one of them. But maybe soon.

For the first time since last October, Rory McIlroy isn’t the favorite in an event he’s in. He’s still almost the favorite. Whatever. He hasn’t played that well since golf came back. Which makes me feel a little better, since my picks haven’t panned out all that well either. It can happen to all of us, I guess. But I’m sure Rory will keep trying, and so will I.

Justin Thomas, who closed with a little 63 last week, is the fave at 9-1. Rory is next, at 10. And keep in mind that any of these big-time guys, like for can get it done at any time when their mood is right. Bryson Dechambeau is also 10, Jon Rahm 14 and Simpson 16. That’s most of your heavyweights. Rahm has not looked quite as good as he did before the stoppage.

Patrick Cantlay is 20, along with Dustin Johnson. Cantlay was playing well, but this is his first start since the return after missing the first two tournaments. Xander Schauffele is 20 as well. Justin Rose, who’s looked good after struggling early in the year, is also 22.

Abraham Ancer, who almost won last week, is 25. Joaquin Niemann is 30. Ditto Patrick Reed, Im and Bubba Watson, who is playing well and has won this thing three times, the last two years ago.

Tony Finau, who never wins, is 33. So is Collin Morikawa, who lost in a playoff two weeks ago. Paul Casey is 35. He’s finished in the top five here four times in the last five years. So, there is that. Sergio Garcia, who’s coming off a good showing, is 45. So is Jordan Spieth, who I still don’t know what to make of yet.

Matthew Fitzpatrick is 50. He’s had eight straight rounds in the 60s. Marc Leishman and Gary Woodland are 50 as well.

Jason Day is 90. Ryan Moore is 120. And he’s played very well in this tourney. Phil Mickelson is 125.

There are also a slew of prop bets available on the Parx Casino sports book website. They’re worth checking out. There’s always bound to be a few of them that might even be more interesting/attractive to you.

Since it’s still early in this process and I’m mostly trying to get a feel about some of these guys, I could once again go in a bunch of different directions. But you can’t bet everyone, can you. Before I get into my winners, I would definitely consider throwing something on some guys to just get a top five or even top 10. You won’t get as much back but you can still get some pretty decent payouts and your guy doesn’t have to do as much. I would definitely back Watson, just because. And I would also put a couple of bucks on him to win this once more, just in case, even though I think that’s asking a lot. Casey is another bloke that’s done really well here, which of course means this time could be the kiss of mush. And Ryan Moore is another who brings a commendable track record into the equation.

As for my choices to finish on top, I’ll go with Patrick Cantlay. It’s mostly a hunch, since he hasn’t played in awhile, but I’ll take that chance at 20-1. Other than that, I’m going to stay away from the faves and go with some middle tier fellows at longer odds. So, let’s try Joaquin Niemann at 30 and Fitzpatrick at 50. I know I’m going to kick myself for not going back to Im right away, but I like to live dangerously sometimes. By all means feel free since usually he gives you a solid effort.

My theory for the time being is mostly to play a lot of different things, for a little bit. This gives you more to root for, and more to maybe cash. Remember more than one guy can get you back something for finishing in the top five or 10.

That’s enough for now. See you next week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, which was originally supposed to be held at the end of May.

As a wise man once told me, life is an audible.

Oops, almost forgot. For whatever it’s worth, I have Vaughn Taylor in my yearlong pool that I pick back in December. He’s 150-1. Figures.

And in case you missed it, Brooks Koepka was a late withdrawal after his caddie tested positive for Covid-19. Unfortunately, that’s something we have to get more and more used to moving forward. All we can do is hope everyone stays as safe as possible, wherever they happen to be. Remember we’re all in this together, right?

Bettors Insider
www.bettorsinsider.com