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Top 25 Countdown for the Traveler’s Championship

A loaded field once again embarks upon TPC River Highlands for the Traveler’s Championship. Defending champion Chez Reavie will join the likes of Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Rose in the quest for the title.

Here are my top-25 picks in order for the Traveler’s Championship.

25. Marc Leishmann: Missed the cut a week ago at Harbour Town or I’d have him much lower on my list. Finished 2nd at Bay Hill and won in Torrey Pines earlier this year. Has quietly risen up to 15th in the world. The 2012 winner of this Championship will be there late on Sunday if he can find the form from before the long layoff.

24. Tyrell Hatton: Had the lead on the back nine a week ago before watching Webb Simpson pass by him. Hatton has climbed all the way to 16th in the world and is coming off a win and third place finish in his last two tournaments. He also have five top-10s the last seven times he’s teed it up.

23. Keegan Bradley: Finished T2 here a year ago. Not been the greatest season for him thus far, but the course fits his game well.

22. Gary Woodland: The U.S. Open champion was in the lead at the beginning of Sunday at The Colonial and then faded. Last week, he didn’t really make any noise, either. Still, Woodland seems to be moving in the right direction this summer and is a good bet to play well at TPC River Highlands.

21. Chez Reavie: It hasn’t been the greatest run for Chez of late. He has four missed cuts in his last eight events. But perhaps coming back to a golf course that has done him wonders will spark some confidence. He won here a year ago and was on a great run at this time a year ago where he finished T3 at the U.S. Open.

20. Jordan Spieth: I have no clue what to make of Jordan Spieth this week. Your guess is as good as mine, so it’s safe to put him here. After a top-10 finish at the Charles Schwab Challenge, sparking talks of him getting his game back, he started with a 66 at Harbour Town. From there, he fell down the leaderboard. But Spieth won here in 2017 with his miraculous bunker shot and seems to at least be trending in a better direction. Let’s hope he contends this week.

19. Sergio Garcia: Don’t take the Spaniard for granted. His top-5 finish a week ago renewed some confidence in his game. Sergio has quietly had a pretty solid season. He now has four top-10s in his last nine tournaments. He may not be El Nino anymore, but he still has talent to contend with the best in the world week in and week out.

18. Sungjae Im: Last week was due to happen. Sungjae missed the cut after a great run on Tour that saw him win at the Honda and post three straight top-10 finishes. The extra two days off should have done him good. Im currently ranks third in the FedEx Cup standings.

17. Viktor Hovland: We keep waiting for the young superstar to break out of his shell. He has shown glimpses for sure. He does already have one win on Tour this season, albeit the Puerto Rico Open which paralleled the WGC Mexico Championship. In other words, he didn’t really beat anyone significant. His play continually gets better, though, and seems on the verge of breaking out for good. This could be his week.

16. Collin Morikawa: In his third ever tournament on the PGA Tour last year, he finished T36. He then followed it up with a win and three straight top-3s. He’s too consistent not to be found among the first couple pages of the leaderboard this weekend. Still, there could be some scar tissue left over from the Charles Schwab Challenge and that missed putt in the playoff two weeks ago.

15. Brooks Koepka: I’m not buying into the Koepka comeback yet, but leaving him out of the top-15 would be a slap in the face to his talent. However, I just need to see more out of Koepka in the non-majors to consider him a weekly threat to win. Last week was a start at Harbour Town, his first top-10 this entire season. I hope he contends. The game needs the four-time major champion to be in the mix.

14. Patrick Reed: He was having a pretty solid season until last week when he missed the cut. I’m not sure what happened at Harbour Town but he was a factor down the stretch at the Colonial. The winner at the WGC Mexico Championship already has four top-10s since Hawaii and should never be left out of the discussion of contenders.

13. Daniel Berger: Try this on for size…five straight top-10 finishes! Four straight top-5s! You’d be crazy not to consider him a factor this week. That said, he’s due for a cool down. The last two years, he’s missed the cut and finished T67. Then again, he finished T2 in 2017 and T5 in 2016 at River Highlands. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the mix again on Sunday, he’s due for a down week.

12. Patrick Cantlay: This will be Cantlay’s first tournament back since the hiatus. Before the hiatus, he put himself into the top-10 in the world and hasn’t missed a cut in over a year. Finished T15 here the last two seasons and his consistent ball-striking should make him a threat come Sunday.

11. Rory McIlroy: Not sure what’s happened to Rory over the last five rounds. After three solid rounds that put him in contention at The Colonial, Rory has just two rounds in the 60s in his last five times teeing it up. And at Harbour Town, 60s were lighting it up everywhere. Still, it’s McIlroy, and he should find a way to be around the first couple pages this weekend.

10. Jon Rahm: Rahm’s been quiet since the return from the virus. While he hasn’t finished well, he has still put up some good statistics. At Harbour Town, he ranked T6 in Greens-in-Regulation. That will reward him this week at TPC River Highlands.

9. Paul Casey: Paul has struggled some with just one top-5 in his last 11 tournaments, but the 12-time worldwide winner has played great at TPC River Highlands. He finished 2nd here in 2015, T2 in 2018, and T5 a year ago. He should be able to find that form that made him a weekly contender on Tour a year ago.

8. Justin Rose: Like Justin Thomas, it’s a question of putting together four straight good rounds. He always seems to find that big hiccup that keeps him from propelling forward. He’s in great form right now and wants to get back in the top-10 in the world. Should be another good performance this week.

7. J.T. Poston: Quietly, Poston is rising on Tour. The winner at last year’s Wyndham Championship has two straight top-10s and is brimming with some confidence coming in. Not calling a victory, but another top-10 is in store.

6. Justin Thomas: He just needs to put together four good rounds. It seems to be his biggest obstacle the last two weeks. He sank on Sunday at the Charles Schwab Challenge after having the lead and last week started slow and then went nuts on the weekend but was too far back to catch up. Thomas should once again be a contender this week. The question is can he put together four good rounds and win?

5. Joaquin Niemann: Really since last summer, the young Chilean has broken through with the big guys. He has five top-5s in the last year, including a T5 here a year ago and a T5 a week ago. Why not a T5 this week?

4. Webb Simpson: Perhaps the hottest player in golf right now right next to BDC. Two wins in his last four tournaments and seven top-10s in his last 13. I see no reason whatsoever why this guy won’t be in the mix again on Sunday.

3. Bubba Watson: No one has had more success on this golf course than Bubba. He has three wins at the Traveler’s and has played solid since the Tour returned two weeks ago. The 2018 winner should be a threat once again for the title.

2. Abraham Ancer: He contended here a year ago and is coming in with solid form, finishing 2nd a week ago and contending at the Charles Schwab Challenge before fading late. Seems to be putting himself in position to win on a weekly basis now and should do that once again here.

1. Bryson DeChambeau: It’s time. In his last five tournaments, he’s gone T5, 2nd, 4th, T3, and T8. Finished T8 here a year ago and is a course that will reward his new Hercules strength. Finally he breaks through with his first win of the 2020 season.

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