With three majors already behind us, we now head to Cromwell, Connecticut, for The 2019 Travelers Championship. The host course of this event is TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards) and it has been the site of The Travelers since 1984. Bubba Watson won here a year ago (-17) and Jordan Spieth was victorious in 2017. (-12) First off, this par 70, designed by Pete Dye, is one of the shortest tracks used on The PGA Tour. As you can see from the past two champs, both long and short hitters can succeed at TPC River Highlands and this is more of a second shot course.
Bubba Watson ranked T7 in GIR here last season and was the third Travelers winner over the last five years to rank T10 or better in GIR. As you could have guessed, with this being a par 70, par four scoring is crucial to winning this event. In fact, all of the past five champions at TPC River Highlands have led their fields in par four scoring during their wins. For a specific range to target, eight of these 12 par fours fall between 400-450 yards.
Additionally, the greens here are POA grass and like with every tournament, strong putting will be a key to taking home the top prize. (four of the last five winners have been T12 or better in PPR) A decent amount of the world’s best players made the trip from Pebble Beach to compete here this week and after The U.S. Opens’ smaller cut, we get back to the standard top 70 and ties cut line this week in Connecticut. @Hunta512.
Brooks Koepka: (11,800)
I usually only like to target Koepka in world class fields, but the price gap between him and Patrick Cantlay ($11,300), the next most expensive golfer, is just too small. Yes, I think Cantlay is also a strong choice this week, but Koepka’s chances of actually winning this tournament are so much higher than Cantlay’s, at just a slightly higher cost. (Currently, Kopeka sits at 7.5/1 to win, vs Cantlay, at 10/1 via Bovada) Last week at Pebble Beach, this man was only a couple birdies away from winning his third U.S. Open in row and his 5th PGA event in less than a year’s time.
Koepka has posted six top fives in his last eight starts and ranks 1st in all of these stats over his last six events: SGT2G, SG APP, GIR, BS, BOB%, SG on P4s, SG on P5s, and DK points. That is truly incredible and to add more fuel to the fire, he has never missed a cut at River Highlands in three starts, with a T9 in 2016 and a T19 a year ago. If he can maintain his mindset and not let his runner up at The U.S. Open bother him, Koepka could easily lap this field and take home the big check.
Jason Day: (10,000)
Day was never in contention, but he had a very solid week at Pebble Beach (T21) and this was his 17th top 25 in his last 20 starts. He has gained at least 6.0 total strokes in four of his last five and ranks 3rd in total strokes over his past 24 rounds. Also during that time, Day has been scoring very well on par fours that are 400-450 yards in length. (13th in SG on P4s 400-450 yards)
This will be his 5th appearance at TPC River Highlands and in four career starts, he has only missed one cut and has two top 20s, including a T18 last year. If he can get his irons going, Day has the potential for a top five in this field.
Paul Casey: (9,500)
Casey has always enjoyed playing at River Highlands. He has competed in the last four Travelers and has finished T2, T17, T5, and T2. This an average finish of 6.5 place, which is the best average of all the players in the field this week. Plus, Casey has been looked great recently. Outside of his WD from The Charles Scwhab Challenge last month (illness), he has made four of his last five cuts, including a T4 at The Wells Fargo Championship and a win at The Valspar Championship.
Furthermore, Casey’s ball striking has been stellar (3rd in SGT2G, 11th in SG APP, 4th in GIR, 2nd in BS, and 6th in fairways gained) and he is currently tied with Justin Thomas for the best odds to win of all the golfers under $10,000 on DraftKings. He should finish no worse than T20 and Casey is an easy choice for all formats this week.
Bubba Watson: (8,900)
Watson’s recent log is ugly (MC, 63, and MC), but expect a bounce back performance from the defending Travelers’ champ. In 12 career starts at River Highlands, the long lefty has made ten cuts, recorded six top ten finishes and has a notable three wins at this short par 70.
He absolutely loves this course and before these last three disappointing starts, Watson was in very good form, making 12 of 13 cuts, with seven top 20s during that run. Bubba is always someone that needs to have a strong course record to consider him and I highly doubt he comes out and misses another cut in his title defense. He should be very under owned for a defending champ and Watson has awesome upside at a reasonable price.
Kevin Streelman: (8,200)
Streelman is another player that has excellent history at River Highlands. He won here in 2014 and has 8/11 record, with four top tens. Now, Streelman heads to this course in some of the best form we have seen from him in years. Over the last two months, he has made five straight cuts and generated three finishes inside the top six. In his last start, at The Memorial, Streelman finished T4, gained 9.5 strokes tee to green, and 9.3 strokes on approach.
This was 13.1 total strokes for the week, which is the most he has gained at an event in nearly five years. For a larger sample, in his last 24 rounds, Streelman ranks 6th in SGT2G, 4th in SG APP, 3rd in GIR, 5th in BS, 3rd in SG on P4s, and 14th in SG on P4s between 400-450 yards. He is clearly underpriced at $8,200 and Streelman is easily one of the best values on the board.
Emillano Grillo: (7,900)
Grillo is 2/2 at River Highlands (T18 last year) and has only missed one cut in his last 22 starts. His T58 at The U.S. Open was underwhelming, but prior to that, he had finished T23, T19, and T9 in his last three events.
His ball striking has been extremely consistent (5th in SGT2G, 3rd in SG APP, 6th in GIR, and 3rd in BS in L24 rounds) and Grillo should rebound from his U.S. Open showing with at least a top 30.
Viktor Hovland: (7,900)
There are safer plays for cash games, but Hovalnd is one of the better GPP targets to attack. If you aren’t familiar with him, Hovland was the top ranked amateur in the world and is now heading to River Highlands as a professional. Last week at U.S. Open, which he qualified for by winning U.S. Amateur Championship a year ago, he shot -4 for the week (280), which is the new record for the best score by an Amateur in the major. The record was previously owned by the great Jack Nicklaus, who shot a two under 282 all the way back in The 1960 U.S. Open.
In this finish by Hovland, he led the field in fairways found and ranked T3 in GIR at Pebble Beach. This impressive feat obviously earned him low amateur of the week at The U.S. Open, but the 21 year old was also crowned the low amateur at The Masters back in April (T32) and has now made three cuts in a row at the PGA level. Every start for him going forward is very important and if he can continue with his stellar tee to green game (9th in SGT2F and 8th in BS in L16 rounds), Hovland has the chance to make some serious noise in his first crack at River Highlands. (66/1 via Bovada)
Ryan Moore: (7,800)
Moore hasn’t been a popular name in DFS this season, but he deserves plenty of consideration this week in Connecticut. This has been one of his favorite stops on Tour throughout his career (9/11, with five top tens) and he has made it to the weekend in seven of his last nine events, with his most notable finish being a T3 at The Texas Open.
His always elite irons have been steady (9th in SG APP in L24 rounds) and Moore was priced all the way up at $9,000 for this event last season. (50/1 via Bovada, best odds of all golfers under $8,000)
Russell Knox: (7,700)
Knox only has two PGA Tour wins and one came at this track in 2016. Overall, he is 5/6 at River Highlands, if we don’t include his first round WD in 2015. Plus, he has been a very safe play this season (13/16) and his irons have been coming on as of late. (70.2% GIR in L4 starts)
On top of that, Knox has been getting done on par fours that land in the 400-450 yard range. (8th in SG on P4s 400-450 yards in L24 rounds) At this low of a salary, it is hard to construct a cash game roster without The 2016 champion this week.
Mackenzie Hughes: (7,100)
He started the season off poorly, but Hughes has made six of his last eight cuts and is coming off back to back strong finishes. (T8 at The Charles Scwhab and then a T14 at The Canadian Open) Over the span of these two events, he is averaging 5.9 SGT2G.
This will be his third time teeing it up at a Travelers and Hughes has made the cut here the past two seasons. (T17 in 2017) Things get ugly fast once we go below $7,500 this week and with some intriguing recent form, Hughes is one of the best cheap risks available.
Collin Morikawa: (6,900)
Similar to Hovland, Morkiawa is also another new name that could do some damage in this weaker field. Before turning pro and making his PGA debut as a professional just two weeks ago at The Canadian Open, Morkiawa was the named the Pac 12 player of the year and was ranked as the #1 amateur in the world during his senior year at The University of California, Berkeley. In that start in Canada, he ended the with a very solid T14 and gained 2.7 strokes putting on the POA greens at Hamilton.
Following this, the young gun then held his own at Pebble Beach in The U.S. Open (T35), which was his first ever start in a major. Obviously, with only two events on his card this season, we don’t have many stats to back up Morkiawa, but Vegas has given him 150/1 odds to win The Travelers, which is tied for the best odds of all the players at $7,000 and under. With very few options even worth considering in this price range, I think taking a risk on Morikawa is very viable for large GPPs.
Vaughn Taylor: (6,700)
He isn’t the most exciting option, but Taylor has some deep history at River Highlands. He is 12/14 at this venue and has proceeded to the weekend in eight of his past 11 tournaments on Tour.
In that span, the veteran has supplied a respectable four top 20 finishes. He lacks upside, but Taylor should get us four rounds of golf, which is all we can ask from a player this cheap.
*Please note that some of these rankings are from Fantasynational.com