By Kenny Burgess Contributor
Updated 6/21/23 10:33am ET
Following the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Los Angeles last weekend, the PGA Tour heads east to TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT. Usually in the week after a major, many of the top players skip out on the next event. That is not the case this weekend as eight of the top ten-ranked golfers in the world will be playing this weekend. This could be partially due to the fact there is a $20 million purse and unlike the U.S. Open last weekend, the Travelers Championship draws a huge crowd and has an electric atmosphere.
The TPC River Highlands is one of the shortest courses on the PGA Tour, as the par-70 layout measures just over 6,850 yards. Even though this is one of the shorter courses, fans shouldn’t necessarily be expecting lower scores as the course has thick and tricky rough.
Scottie Scheffler +600
The favorite going into the weekend is Scottie Scheffler whose odds sit at +600. I would fade Scheffler this week just based on the fact that his odds are way too short to justify betting on him. While Scheffler is the top-ranked golfer in the OWGR, his last victory came in March 2023. His putter started to come around in the U.S. Open, but it has continually let Scheffler down. This leads me to advise picking someone else and staying away from the favorite.
Patrick Cantlay +1100
Patrick Cantlay has had success on this course before, famously shooting a 60 here as an amateur golfer. Cantlay hasn’t had the same success since turning pro, but he has finished inside of the top 15 in every event he’s competed in at this course. Cantlay is also coming off a top-15 finish at the U.S. Open and has finished inside of the top-15 in five of his last seven appearances. Cantlay’s strong play recently combined with his success on this course makes him a great pick to win this weekend.
Viktor Hovland +1800
Viktor Hovland enters the weekend as the fifth-ranked golfer in the world and is coming off four straight top-20 finishes, including a win at the Memorial and a second-place finish at the PGA Championship. Hovland enters the week ranked sixth on the PGA Tour in strokes gained off the tee (0.718), 11th in strokes gained tee-to-green (1.328), 12th in total strokes gained (1.469), and 17th in strokes gained on approach (0.597). Hovland has been solid all season and has been playing really well, and he is one of my favorite picks heading into the weekend.
Colin Morikawa +2200
Colin Morikawa looks like he regained his form last weekend at the U.S. Open when he posted a top-15 finish. Morikawa is back to being an elite ball striker and has gained more than 5.5 strokes on approach in two straight tournaments, with one being only three rounds because of a final round withdrawal. Morikawa also seems to have found his putting stroke and has gained over 1.5 strokes on the greens in each of his last two appearances.
Denny McCarthy +7000
While Denny McCarthy is by no means one of the favorites this weekend, I am surprised to see his odds this high. McCarthy has finished in the top 25 in four of his last six appearances and took home second at the Memorial earlier this month. McCarthy has been playing very well so far this season and he’s 10th in the field in total strokes gained over the past 24 rounds. The strongest part of McCarthy’s game is putting, and he’s shown a lot of improvement with his irons. This makes McCarthy a very solid value pick for me heading into the weekend.
Austin Eckroat +11000
Austin Eckroat is a sneaky pick heading into the weekend and has been playing extremely well over the past month. In the U.S. Open, Eckroat had a tied-10th place finish and finished second at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Eckroat has finished inside of the top 30 in each of his last four appearances. Eckroat has gained more than five strokes, ball-striking in three out of his last four tournaments, and seems like he might be on the brink of breaking out. At this rate, I think Eckroat is one of the biggest sleepers in the tournament.
Photo credit: Patrick Cantlay’s Instagram