Travelers Championship 2023 First Round Leader Picks: Cameron Young Explodes Out of Slumps

The Travelers is a lower-scoring event that often produces fireworks right from the get-go. In 2020 Mackenzie Hughes started the tournament with a 60 and cashed in as a triple-digit first-round leader for bettors. 2021 had tougher scoring conditions but still produced a pair of 63s on Day 1 as Satoshi Kodaira and Kramer Hickok both cashed in as longer shots in the first-round leader market. 2022 was no slouch either, as it saw 62s shot by Rory McIlroy and J.T. Poston.

Numerous longshots have hit as first-round leaders here the past few seasons, and targeting players who are well down the board (with long odds) will be a priority. This venue uses poa greens, so players who tend to play well on the West Coast perk up here quite often. Solid poa putting splits and players trending well in short-iron play are a couple of keys to look for in the stat department.

As always, this column will use OddsShopper’s golf betting tools to identify the best value options for Travelers Championship first-round leader selections.

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Travelers Championship First-Round Leader Bets

The trend at this event has not really favored early or late starters. With that in mind, we will look at players on both sides of the draw and also grab some players with deeper value at +10000 or better. It is worth noting that in each of the past two seasons at least one first-round leader of this event did not play the week prior. Looking to target some players who are coming in with some form but are also well rested is a priority when targeting longshots.

Cameron Young First-Round Leader (+5500) at DraftKings

Young finished 32nd at the U.S. Open but gained strokes across the board at that event, including on the greens. The 0.7 strokes he gained putting may not look like much, but it was the first time he gained strokes with the flat stick in four starts, and that could cause a bit of confidence to flow over to this week. He is also likely to be motivated by the Wyndham Clark breakthrough, a player Young was beating regularly at this point in the season last year.

Young has made a habit of exploding out of his slumps with big first rounds. He shot a 63 at the RBC in 2022 after missing the cut by a mile at the Masters the week before and a 64 at St. Andrews in 2022 after missing the cut at the Scottish Open in the prior event. Given the better play he showed last week, Young is a solid target for a fast start this Thursday, and his early tee time provides exposure to the morning starters at a decent price point.

Adam Scott First-Round Leader (+8000) at DraftKings

Adam Scott First Round Top 5 (+1100) at BetMGM

Scott is just a few weeks removed from shooting a pair of 63s at TPC Craig Ranch in Texas, one of which came in Round 1. He has been a fast starter all season, ranking fifth in Round 1 scoring average, and he has also shown some serious upside with his putter, ranking second in this field in strokes gained putting on poa greens over the last 50 rounds. Scott finished 13th at this venue in 2021 but gained over five strokes putting that week and should be well rested after not playing the weekend at the U.S. Open. After seeing contemporaries like Justin Rose and Jason Day grab wins this year, he will likely be motivated to make a move and get out of the gates fast. At +8000, he is too quality of a player to ignore at this price.

Travelers Championship First Round Leader Longshot Bets

Longshots often hit in the first-round market and are worth adding to betting cards. You can always use OddsShopper’s tools to check out and compare odds across the major sites.

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Stephan Jaeger First Round Leader (+9000) at BetMGM

Stephan Jaeger First Round Top 5 (+1600) at BetMGM

Jaeger has been a solid starter for most of the season. He ranks 10th in Round 1 scoring average on the PGA this season and has been a solid presence on the PGA all year — looking like a player who might potentially breakthrough for a win soon. He ranks top 25 in strokes gained tee to green in short- and long-term form and has finally seen his putter come to life of late, gaining over 1.5 strokes putting in each of his last two starts. After playing five weeks in a row, he was finally forced to take last week off (having not qualified for the U.S. Open) and should be well rested as a result. Luckily, this is an elevated event, so despite Jaeger’s great form, he is still available at +9000 to grab the lead on Thursday. He is an afternoon starter as well and has some fantastic top-5 odds for Thursday at +1600.

Beau Hossler First Round Leader (+1000) at DraftKings

Beau Hossler First Round Top 5 (+1800) at BetMGM

Hossler has got a little recent form to build off, having posted a 24th place at the Memorial three weeks ago, but he is also coming in rested, having been off the week prior. This puts him in the same boat as 2022 co-first-round leader J.T. Poston and 2021 co-first-round leader Kramer Hickok, who, like Hossler, both failed to qualify for the U.S. Open. Hossler is also a high-end putter who has excelled numerous times on the poa greens out west, posting top-10 finishes at the Farmers and Pebble Beach. Given his record at TPC River Highlands, a course where he has shot 66 or better four times prior, taking a shot with him at longer odds makes sense in this spot. His early tee time on Thursday also gives some extra exposure to the early wave and helps balance out betting cards for Day 1.

Geoff Ulrich
Author

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