As Jordan Spieth once again holed out from a bunker in a playoff to claim a PGA Tour win, I, too, celebrated and went “black out.” Of course, my black out was caused by something other than pure elation.
After what feels like an eon away from the top of the heap, the fantasy picks from yours truly finally paid dividends. It seems the Travelers Championship can be the perfect place to turn things around in a fantasy sense, too.
As stated last week, the 2017 edition of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT., was poised to be the best in tournament history. With more top-10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking teeing it up than ever, all eyes were on what was already a fan-favorite event on the calendar. It did not disappoint.
Normally, the first tournament after the U.S. Open can suffer from its place on the schedule, but thanks to the chance to make a ton of birdies (as well as the other over-the-top hospitality provided to the players by Travelers and a PGA Tour scheduling rule) and find a groove with just three weeks before the Open Championship, the 2017 Travelers was brimming with star power.
Here’s a look at who made the most of their trip to Hartford, and those looking for a mulligan:
Jordan Spieth — You had to figure it was just a matter of time before Jordan Spieth made it back to the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour. On Sunday, the phenom put his signature on yet another story book moment. In a sudden-death playoff, Spieth holed a difficult bunker shot on 18 to sink Daniel Berger’s bid for two wins in three starts. For Spieth, the win was his second of the season and the 10th of his career. Hopefully, it won’t be the last the northeast sees of young Mr. Spieth.
Daniel Berger — Everyone knows Daniel Berger has the talent to be a super star on the PGA Tour, but until about three weeks ago he was mired in a bit of a “Sophomore Slump.” Since his T-65 showing at the PLAYERS in May, Berger has successfully defended his 2016 title at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, missed the cut at the U.S. Open and finished solo second at the Travelers. The U.S. Open missed cut notwithstanding, Berger is certainly trending up and should be considered in all formats.
Charely Hoffman — Another one of the “Horses for courses” picks came to fruition at TPC River Highlands as Charely Hoffman collected yet another top-10 finish at the Travelers Championship. While he fell just two shots short of the sudden-death playoff between Berger and Spieth, Hoffman’s performance racked up the fantasy points and made owners very happy. Any time the Tour rolls through New England, Hoffman should be on your radar.
Rory McIlroy — As any amateur knows, putting woes are arguably the worst thing that can happen to someone besides things that begin with “can” and end in “cer.” I’m including divorce, famine, car wrecks, your dog getting lost and traffic jams in that equation. OK, so it may be a slight exaggeration, but trouble with the flat stick can mess with the most seasoned pro. Such has been the case for McIlroy. After ho-hum rounds of 67-73-70 over the first three days, Rory found the gear he’s been looking for for weeks, firing a 6-under 64 on Sunday. It wasn’t a great showing, but hopefully Sunday’s performance was a sign of things to come for the Northern Irishman.
Brian Harman — Following his stunning performance at the U.S. Open, Brian Harman was very popular pick in all formats for the Travelers. And why not? The 2016-17 season has been the best of Harman’s career and whenever you think, “ohh, that’s cool. Good for him!,” Harman comes back and does something else to impress you. So by this point, I was almost expecting him to get his second win of the year last week. It didn’t happen, and he never really contended, but he finished at 4-under in a tie for 35th after four mediocre rounds. Not bad, but not great.
Jim Furyk — One of the “horses for courses” pros who didn’t exactly pan out the way many expected was Jim Furyk. Sure, Furyk has a lot on his plate as he prepares to captain the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup team and continues to come back from injury, but he shot 58 at TPC River Highlands last year and, for many, that was enough to expect big things in 2017. Now, I doubt anyone thought he would duplicate that round — but his 5-under showing for the week was a disappointment for those who really believed there was more magic left in Furyk’s tank. I’m sure there is, it just wasn’t last week.
Wesley Bryan — There was a lot of buzz surrounding Wesley Bryan in fantasy circles leading up to the Travelers Championship. At a place notorious for giving up birdies and more, there always seemed to be a mid-pack pro who got hot and went super low. Many thought that guy would be Bryan — and heading into the weekend, he was right there. Bryan entered play on Saturday with back-to-back rounds of 67 in his pocket and a 36-hole score of 6-under. Unfortunately for fantasy hopefuls, he stumbled around TPC Highlands the next two days with rounds of 75-76, dropping him to 74th place finish at 5-over.