Davis Riley highlights best bets

CROMWELL, Conn. — Never let it be said that The Country Club can be overcome by modern technology. I’m not even talking about golf equipment.

I never mind pulling back the curtain and giving you guys a peek at what this job is like, but I’m about to open the whole damn window.

On Saturday, as I was co-hosting live coverage on U.S. Open Radio from our perch down the left side of the driving range, I was perusing the leaderboard when my laptop suddenly offered the infamous Blue Screen of Death and never returned to life. Talk about tough conditions.

This was right around the time USGA CEO Mike Whan had joined us in the booth for a conversation and he may or may not have witnessed me mockingly attempt to throw the dying computer onto the practice facility below us.

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Anyway, I’m certainly not asking for sympathy — or even empathy. It comes with the territory.

I’m also not asking for suggestions. “Why didn’t you just borrow someone else’s laptop?” Because everyone else was using theirs. “Why didn’t you go get it fixed?” That seems counterproductive to covering the tournament. “Why are you still whining about it?” Ah, now that’s a good question.

The answer serves as an explanation for the preview you’re about to read.

These are always a bit truncated on weeks after major championships anyway, but following the final round, I made the 90-minute drive to this week’s Travelers Championship. More shows, more pods, more content. No time (yet) to fix my laptop issues.

Again, no sympathy is needed. Just explaining that you’re about to read a preview typed out on a phone after covering a major and driving to the next venue.

Let’s get right to one of my favorite tournaments of the year — and one that’s endeared itself to plenty of superstars, as this week’s field list includes Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Sam Burns, Jordan Spieth, and Xander Schauffele.

Travelers Championship best bets and picks

Davis Riley outright winner (40/1 BetMGM)

As you’ve probably already noticed, he’s on the same trajectory as his buddy Will Zalatoris (who withdrew from the Travelers) and some of the game’s other young 20-something up-and-comers, just a year or so behind on the timeline. Maybe less.

Davis Riley hits a tee shot on the fifth hole during the U.S. Open.
Davis Riley hits a tee shot on the fifth hole during the U.S. Open.
Getty Images

Riley’s results in his last six starts suggest a lofty ceiling/floor combination: 31st-13th-4th-13th-9th-5th — and that doesn’t even include a playoff loss at the Valspar Championship a few months ago.

It’ll be a tall task taking down those big names, but in a small sample size, Riley has shown a propensity for playing his best golf when birdies are readily available, as they will be this week. I love taking a shot at this price.

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Webb Simpson top-five finish (+900)

He hasn’t quite proven it, but I still think big things are coming this summer for Simpson. There’s an intriguing pattern of players who were injured for part of the early portion of the year later having more gas in the tank than their peers once we hit the dog days. At 55/1 on DraftKings, I don’t mind taking a chance for him to win the tournament either.

Top-10 finish: Aaron Wise (+350) + Keith Mitchell (+600)

I should have each of these names saved as a copy/paste option, considering how many times I’ve written about them this year. They’re no longer completely undervalued — now just slightly undervalued — but remain two of my favorite plays to pick off a victory soon. I’ll go a bit conservative for top-10s here, though I don’t mind a more aggressive ticket.

Brendan Steele top-20 finish (+200):

Horses for courses, but especially for course horses. OK, that sentence might not make sense, but I’ll explain: There are some players who fare well at the same tracks every year and Steele is near the top of that list. Throw in the fact that he chased his best career major finish, a T9 at the PGA Championship, with a T10 at the Memorial, and I like him in all formats this week.