Following a very interesting U.S. Open, we now make our way to TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards) in Cromwell, Connecticut, for The 2018 Travelers Championship. This venue has hosted this tournament for the last 33 years and if you remember last season, Jordan Spieth won the event, in dramatic fashion, holing a bunker shot to seal his playoff win over Daniel Berger. This Pete Dye design is much shorter than last week, but one thing that will continue is that this course is a par 70, making par four scoring extremely important, once again. In fact, all of the last four winners have either led or been T1 in par four scoring at River Highlands. Even though this is a shorter track, both long and short hitters can win here. Unlike last week, your off the tee game isn’t that important, but as usual, finding the greens is, so I will be looking at approach stats, but also ball striking.
After the carnage that we saw at Shinnecock Hills, we should get back to a low scoring PGA event at The Travelers, with every single champion since 1994 cracking double digits at this course. This makes birdie or better percentage a priority when picking our golfers for this week. As for the field, we usually get a weaker field after a major, but this year is very different, with seven of the world’s top 15 players competing in Connecticut. Overall, this is a pretty strong field and I think it is a fine week to use your normal amount of bankroll, as we also get back to a standard top 70 and ties cut line. @Hunta512.
Rory Sabbatini: (7,200)
I understand this field for The Travelers is much better than years in the past, but there is still no way a player who has made 15 straight cuts should be this cheap. Sabbatini has been on this run since the start of the new year and has finished in the top 30 eight times in those 15 starts. During this stretch, he has been exceptional on par fours, ranking 9th in SG on these holes, but he is also 7th in SG on par fours that are between 400-450 yards, which is the range of eight of the 12 par fours at River Highlands. (via Fantasy National) Plus, he also ranks 20th in BOB% and 21st in SGT2G during this stretch. (via Fantasy National)
His approach game isn’t the best (136th in SG APP), but he has improved recently, gaining strokes with his approaches in five of his last six events. He doesn’t hold a great record here in Connecticut (2/6 cuts), but in all reality, Sabatini’s game is at a completely different level than years in the past. For example, he has made 80% his cuts this season, compared to only making 57% in 2017 and 40% in 2016. On top of that, he is 3/4 on par 70s this season, with an average finish of 23rd place. He should make the cut and Sabbatini has the potential to post his seventh top 25 of the season this weekend.
Keegan Bradley: (7,800)
Bradley let Shinnecock get the best of him, but I think we need to give him a pass on this, because River Highlands is a course that he has played extremely well in the past. The New England native, originally from Vermont, has taken playing near his home very serious over the years. He has never missed a cut at this venue and has made it to the weekend at the last seven Travelers Championships, including four top 30s, with his highest finish, a T8, coming just last year.
Prior to The U.S. Open, he made 13 of 17 cuts this season and was seven for his last nine. This may come as a surprise, but he has been the best approach player in 2018, ranking 1st in SG APP. Not only that, but he ranks 7th in SGT2G, 14th in GIR%, 3rd in ball striking, 79th in par four scoring, and 93rd in BOB%. He should absolutely bounce back at this track he loves and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Bradley ended up in the mix come Sunday. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
J.B. Holmes: (8,000)
Holmes’ game has been has been trending up, with him making three straight cuts. Following a T42 at The Byron Nelson, he posted a T13 at The Memorial and then a T3 at The St. Jude Classic. At TPC Southwind, which was the host of The St. Jude Classic and also a par 70, Holmes ranked T3 in GIR and T11 in par four scoring, while nailing 17 birdies and a tied for best in the field, two eagles. In these last three made cuts, he ranks 4th in SGT2G, 12th in SG APP, 3rd in ball striking, 21st in SG on par fours, and 21st in BOB%. (via Fantasy National)
It is a solid advantage that he didn’t play at The U.S. Open and he should fresh and ready to keep things going after his T3 in Memphis, which was his best performance of the season, thus far. With a prior champ in Russell Knox, at the same exact price (17-20% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs), Holmes should naturally come with a low ownership and is a fine play for GPPs this week. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Kyle Stanley: (7,700) With two MCs in his last three events, Stanley should be lower owned. (9-12% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs) In his last 24 rounds, he is still elite statistically, ranking 16th in SGT2G, 5th in SG APP, 3rd in ball striking, 7th in SG on par fours, and 41st in BOB%. (via Fantasy National) He is better for GPPs, with a hit or miss record here (4/8), but the upside will always be there for Stanley and his great ball striking. (60/1 to win, via Bovada)
Nick Watney: (7,500) Been very consistent, making it to the weekend in 12 of his last 13 starts. He is also 6/8 at The Travelers, making his last four. He is the 40th best par four scorer this year and should absolutely be low owned in GPPs. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
CT Pan: (7,600) A T25 and T8 in his only two starts at River Highlands. He also has now made four straight cuts and has been better in each tournament, leading up to a T18 at The St. Jude Classic two weeks ago.
Chez Reavie: (7,200) 6/7 at this course and the 9th best par four scorer on Tour this season.
Vaughn Taylor: (6,900) Has a strong history at The Travelers, making 11/13 cuts for his career and has made nine of his last 11 cuts. Lastly, he is coming off back to back top 20 finishes. For plays under $7,000, I think Taylor is one of the better bets to be playing on the weekend.