The Tour heads back East this week into Connecticut for the Travelers Championship. This event has been hosted at TPC River Highlands for quite some time and as a result we have extensive course history to look back on. The course was redesigned back in 1982 by Pete Dye, so even though it’s not an original Pete Dye course it does still play similar to some of his other courses on tour. River Highlands is a shorter par 70 course that plays under 7,000 yards and as such, has yielded some low scores in the past – including a miraculous 58 from Jim Furyk at last years’ event. As a blend of tricky par 4’s, easy par 5’s and some drivable par 4’s as well, this is a course where birdies will be needed and a wide variety of players will be able to compete.
Pete Dye Design/Re-Designed Course: This isn’t a Pete Dye designed course per say, but at the same time it is a course that generally emphasizes approach shots, and plays like a lot of his original designs. As such, looking at players who have had past success at some of his other venues on tour (TPC Sawgrass, TPC Stadium, Hilton Head) is not a bad idea as there is often overlap between success at this week’s venue and his other courses.
The week after a major: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that the US Open happened last week. While this event was moved last year for the Olympics, it almost always falls on the week after the US Open. And while it’s tempting to pick players who played well last week, history tells us that success last week won’t always equal success at the Travelers. In fact, four of the past five winners from 2015 to 2011 either didn’t play in or missed the cut at the US Open the week before playing here. Don’t be shocked if some players have major hangovers this week and be careful getting too much exposure to last week’s hero’s.
Rory McIlroy ($11,600): The shortness of this course may have people leaning against using Rory here but at the same time, bombers have prospered at River Highlands over time, with Bubba Watson taking home two titles since 2010. Rory’s approach game should show improvement over last week and if he’s near the top of the field in this regard he should be able to clobber what is generally a pretty simple course. At his peak Rory is a better DFS play than Spieth, regardless of venue, and I’d look for a bounce-back and possibly his first win of the year here after a very disappointing second major.
Paul Casey ($9,700): Casey bombed on the weekend at the US Open, but there’s no knee high fescue at TPC River Highlands, and while Casey can sometimes struggle off the tee he’ll be penalised far less for that transgression here. He now ranks third in SG: Approaches and looked in fine form in that regards last week. He’s got a playoff loss and a T17 from last year in two starts here and gained over 10 strokes on the field in approaches alone in 2015.
Patrick Reed ($9,500): Reed may not have the razor sharp approach game that Casey has but he should be a good fit this week regardless as he can make up strokes at this venue with his improving short game and putter. Reed has a boom or bust history at this event with two top-twenties and two missed cuts over his last four appearances but I’m comfortable using him here as the real American hero has only finished outside of the top 25 once in his last six starts.
Kyle Stanley ($8,400): I’m not sure if Stanley necessarily has what it takes to win at this venue, but like Casey his approach game can be so good at times that a shaky putter shouldn’t matter too much. He started slowly in his last start but still ended up ninth overall in approaches for the week and should carry that momentum over here after a week of rest. He’s been money for fantasy over the past month or so and I see no reason to hop off at what is still a decent price.
Others: Tony Finau, Justin Thomas
Anirban Lahiri ($7,500): Lahiri is coming off a monster performance at the Memorial where he demolished the course in his final round with a bogey free seven under; gaining five strokes over the field on approaches alone in that round. This will be his first time seeing TPC River Highlands but the fact he ranks 9th in Birdie or Better percentage and 16th in par 4 Birdie or Better Percentage means he should be taken seriously in DFS this week. He’s also coming off ten days of meditation according to his twitter account which can’t hurt. He’s a sneaky pick to possibly pick up the win here too.
Bud Cauley ($7,500): Cauley is coming off a missed cut at the US Open but that really shouldn’t bug us too much as players missing the cut there have often bounced back here with big weeks. Cauley actually led this event after round one in 2014 and he’s proven to be a much more consistent player this year with injury issues behind him. Cauley ranks 8th in approaches and had some success earlier in 2017 at corollary courses like Hilton Head and the TPC Stadium course.
Graham DeLaet ($7,100): I like the fact DeLaet skipped the US Open and qualifying entirely as he seems more focused on finally picking up his first win than coming T40 at a major. This venue has been kind to DeLaet over the years as he’s registered 3rd and 4th place finishes here in 2013 and 2015. His approach game is still world class and his putting has improved to the point where he’s now 20th in SG: Putting on the season; maybe this is finally the time and place to he puts it all together?
Chez Reavie ($6,900): Chez should set up extremely well for this course and comes into the week off his best stretch of golf of the year. A T4 at the FedEx St. Jude and a T16 at the US Open is very encouraging as is the fact he’s not missed a cut here in his last four visits. There’s the worry of a small letdown after such a good finish in a major championship but the price is too good to pass up on a player who has found success at this venue before and comes in red hot.
Others: Byeong Hun-An
High-upside GPP Picks
David Lingmerth ($7,900): Lingmerth seems to have finally found that same consistency we saw from him after his big win at the Memorial in 2015, and he’s been hitting fairways and greens with much more consistency of late. The Swede has been trending as his current form reads T21-T15-T12 and he’s coming off a great week at the US Open. He’s had success on other Dye tracks too, including the TPC Stadium course, and should find this week’s venue inviting given his current form.
Harris English ($6,900): English has had a bad year for the most part but there have been signs of life recently. He was near the lead for a time in Memphis and has now made three straight cuts after a string of bad outings. Although he can bomb it off the tee English has had his best moments at shorter venues like TPC River Highlands and has a great course history here with T25 and T7 finishes over his last two visits. If his approach game keeps improving, English is a good enough putter to get in contention this week and be a force in big gpps on DraftKings.
Derek Fathauer ($6,500): Fathauer’s lone professional win came at Dye Valley in Florida on the Web.com Tour, and while he’s never made the cut at this venue in three starts his current form is decent entering the event this year as he’s gone T24-T48 in his last two starts. Fathauer is a player capable of putting together some big rounds, and his approach game showed big improvement his last time out. If the trend continues he’s a good enough putter to really take advantage on a course like this.
Other: Jason Day
Players to Consider (in no order)
– Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey, Kyle Stanley, Anirban Lahiri, Bud Cauley, Graham DeLaet, Byeong Hun-An
– Chez Reavie, David Lingmerth, Harris English, Derek Fathauer, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Tony Finau
Kyle Stanley 50-1
Harris English 100-1 EW
Anirban Lahiri 150-1 EW
Derek Fathauer 300-1 EW