The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course information, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
This is a full-field event and even with the move in schedule to the week after the US Open, there’s still some big names attached, as world No. 1 Brooks Koepka will be in attendance joined by Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. With this being the week after a major, it will be hard to know exactly what to expect from some of the top players, and last season several players who missed the cut in the year’s third major played well here, including three-time Travelers champion Bubba Watson and two-time runner-up Paul Casey.
There also will be some new faces in the field here as two young college standouts — Victor Hovland and Matthew Wolff — will be teeing it up in their first starts as professionals. Both make for interesting DFS targets and it should be noted Hovland is coming in off a T12 at the US Open last week.
Like most regular tour events the cut this week takes place Friday, and the top 70 players and ties will make the weekend. The field this week is also a big one as 150+ golfers will be teeing it up, making it another tough week to get 6/6 through in DFS.
TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut
Par 70, 6,800-6,900 yards
TPC River Highlands will be a nice break from the tougher rough and fast greens the players saw last week. The venue is a short par 70 that features smaller Bentgrass/Poa greens and an eclectic blend of holes. It’s also the place where Jim Furyk had one of the greatest rounds of fantasy golf ever, when he shot 58 on Sunday in 2016. Last year this venue was ranked 25th in terms of toughness on tour and yielded an average score of 69.596 to the field, about the middle of the pack.
There are only two par 5s on the course, but one of them is the extremely reachable 523-yard 13th hole, which should yield a high number of birdies and eagles for the week. And while the course only has two par 5s, it also features two drivable par 4s, one of which is the under-300-yard 15th hole, which always produces a lot of drama late on Sunday. There are eight par 4s that measure in between 400-450 yards, making distance off the tee less of an issue, but placement more vital.
The course itself originally was designed back in 1928 but was reworked by perennial PGA course designer Pete Dye in 1982. And while the course isn’t an original Dye, it still lines up nicely with many of his other venues mainly because it challenges players with several tougher approach shots, many of which are guarded by water, which comes into play heavily down the stretch. The course has seen all types of players win here as big hitters like Bubba Watson and Marc Leishman have prospered at this event, while several shorter hitters like Kevin Streelman, Freddie Jacobson and Chris Stroud also have found success at these grounds. Winners here have found 7% more fairways off the tee than at an average tour venue but still have driven it the same distance as winners at other venues (via fantasygolfmetrics.com).
2019 Weather Report: There is a lot of rain in the forecast this week, which could lead to very receptive greens and a lot of low scores. The good news is it doesn’t appear wind will be a big factor, so, outside of a storm stoppage, players should be able to play unless the rain gets out of control. Players on Friday morning might see some of the better conditions with sun expected to peak out and low winds. The afternoon Friday has the highest winds forecast for the week with gusts topping out in the 10-12 mph range. It’s possible a small wave advantage might play out this week with the rain as well. As always, the weather situation is something to check back in on Wednesday night.
Past five winners
— 2018—Bubba Watson -17 (over Paul Casey -14)
— 2017—Jordan Spieth -12 (over Daniel Berger playoff)
— 2016–Russell Knox -14 (over Jerry Kelly -13)
— 2015—Bubba Watson -16 (over Paul Casey in playoff)
— 2014—Kevin Streelman -15 (over Sergio Garcia and KJ Choi -14)
— Four of the past nine winners of the Travelers have been first-time winners on the PGA Tour.
— Four of the past six winners of this event were coming into the week off of a missed cut in their previous start.
— The past seven times the Travelers was played after the US Open (’11-’15, ’17) only twice has the winner played the US Open the week before and made the cut (Spieth 2017, Jacobson 2011).
Strokes Gained: Approach the Green
Par 4 Scoring, Par 4 Efficiency 400-450 yards
Approach Proximity 125-150, 150-175
Birdie or Better Percentage
This week might be more difficult to quantify than others, especially given the different profiles of winners we have seen at this event. That being said, SG: Approach is where you should be looking in terms of strokes gained stats. While not all winners have ranked highly in this stat, in 2016 five of the top 10 finishers (including winner Russell Knox) ranked inside the top 10 in this stat for the week. In 2017, winner Jordan Spieth ranked seventh for the week in approaches and playoff loser Daniel Berger was third.
Proximity stats this week also can be viewed. Last year our friends at Fantasy Golf Metrics showed us that approaches from 125-175 generally will be the most common the players will have to encounter at this venue, and that makes targeting players ranked highly in these categories valuable. In general, a good wedge and short iron game will be more valuable here as players will need quality birdie looks to keep up with the pace of scoring.
Finally, as this is a par 70 with 12 par 4s, looking at recent Par 4 Scoring and Par 4 Efficiency from 400-450 yards (there are eight such holes on the course in that range) also should be a good predictor. In 2017 the winner and runner-up ranked third and 27th, respectively, for the year in this category.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
Player: Ryan Moore
Odds to win: 66-1
DraftKings price: $7,800
Byeong Hun-An; 70-1; $7,800
Victor Hovland; 70-1; $7,900
Daniel Berger; 70-1; $8,000
Player: Abraham Ancer
Odds to win: 90-1
DraftKings price: $7,400
Kevin Tway; $7,400; 110-1
Si Woo Kim; $7,400; 110-1
Danny Lee; $7,500; 100-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Bubba Watson (best finishes: win-2010, 2015, 2018): Bubba loves the Travelers, and more specifically, he loves TPC River Highlands. Since 2008 he has accumulated six finishes of T6 or better, including wins in 2010, 2015 and 2018. He also has finished outside of the top 25 only three times in his past nine appearances.
2. Paul Casey (best finishes: second-2015, 2018): Casey has been the hard-luck loser at this event twice. He carried a solid lead into Sunday last year but got hunted down rather easily by Bubba Watson, whom he also lost in a playoff to in 2015. In four appearances at this event he’s never finished worse than T17 and should be hungry for some revenge this week.
3. Marc Leishman (best finishes: win-2012; T9-2016): Leishman won his first PGA Tour event at this venue back in 2012, and he’s backed that appearance up with three more finishes of T17 or better at TPC River Highlands over the past five years. He’s 7/8 in cuts made here and enters the week in search off a couple of decent starts after a mid-season lull.
4. Charley Hoffman (best finishes: T2-2012; T3-2017): Hoffman has played here eight times since 2010 and has accumulated seven top-30 finishes in that span. To add to that record, Hoffman was also the runner-up here in 2012, finished T7 in 2013 and T3 in 2017, so there’s little question as to whether the venue suits him. He’s coming off a week of rest as he didn’t qualify for the US Open, and that might give him an edge this week.
5. Keegan Bradley (best finishes: T8-2017): Keegan doesn’t have a ton of high finishes at TPC River Highlands, but his record here is noteworthy, nonetheless. The native New Englander has never missed a cut at this event in his past eight appearances since 2011. He’s been up and down most of the season but gets a bump to the venue this week.
Cash Games: Given that it’s a week after a major and the venue is a lot more straightforward, I’ll take a pass on the top-salaried guys and target players like Justin Thomas ($9,800) and Paul Casey ($9,500) as starters for cash games. Neither was in the mix last week but have solid-to-great records at this venue — and they’re decently priced. Below them, there is a ton of value in the low-$8K and mid-$7K range. Charley Hoffman ($8,100), Emiliano Grillo ($7,900), Ryan Moore ($7,800) and Russell Knox ($7,700) all look like great values for cash games this week. I’d also consider Brian Harman ($7,400) and Mackenzie Hughes ($7,100) for this format as well.
Tournaments: Bryson DeChambeau ($9,200) has picked up his play of late and has played more technical tracks like TPC River Highlands well over his career. He might be a little hard to trust right now, but his upside looks solid this week in a potential bounce-back scenario. Louis Oosthuizen ($8,800) has had stretches of brilliance in his career and, as he’s coming in with a hot putter and off a top-10 at a major, he should be viewed as a solid potential low-owned play in GPPs. Other GPP targets this week include Victor Hovland ($7,900), Bud Cauley ($7,600), Russell Henley ($7,500), Stephen Jaeger ($6,900) and Ben Silverman ($6,500).
Top Recent Form
1. Brooks Koepka: Koepka nearly pulled off the miracle and won his third US Open in a row last week. While he’s become major championship focused, Koepka’s overall form remains insane as he’s finished T4 or better in four of his past five starts and has a stranglehold on the world’s best player title at the moment.
2. Patrick Cantlay: He nearly missed the cut last week but rallied on the weekend and pulled off a strong T21 finish. Cantlay is T9 or better in four of his past five starts, including a win at the Memorial.
3. Kevin Streelman: Streelman brings in a surprisingly strong recent record to this week, with three finishes of T6 or better over his past five starts. The 2014 winner of the Travelers ranks a solid 26th in SG: Tee to Green on the year.
4. Adam Hadwin: Hadwin put up a good fight in his home-country event two weeks ago, finishing T6 there. He has made five cuts in a row coming into the week and looks to be trending upward based on recent finishes.
5. Sebastian Munoz: A surprise entry for this week, Munoz has split time between the Web.com and PGA Tour this season, but he’s finished T11 or better in his past three starts, including a T11 in his most recent start at the Canadian Open. He’s an under-the-radar player to watch for the week.
MY PICK: Justin Thomas ($9,800)
Thomas missed the cut at the US Open, his third start since returning from a wrist injury. The American’s recent record might not look great, but he tweeted out shortly after missing the weekend at Pebble Beach that he felt “very close to playing some great golf.” Thomas mostly has been stricken by a cold putter, a club that often can switch in an instant for a high-profile player. He gained strokes on approaches against the field in both rounds at Pebble and ranked second in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green at the Canadian Open, where he finished T20.
The former PGA Championship winner should be looking to get his season on track this week and has played TPC River Highlands five times already in his short career, marking it down as a place he “loves” on social media. He’s missed a couple cuts here but finished T3 back in 2016 and clearly has the ability to obliterate a venue like this when his game is on — see his 59 at the Sony Open for proof. He’s a great bounce-back candidate this week at an event that has seen plenty of players win off missed cuts at the US Open in years past.
MY SLEEPER: Mackenzie Hughes ($7,100)
Hughes has been on a nice run of late, putting together a couple solid starts in a row. The Canadian finished T14 at his country’s home championship a couple of weeks ago and posted a solid T8 at Colonial before that. His season-long stats might not look great, but his ball-striking was superb in Canada, where he ranked 16th on approaches and ninth off the tee for the week. Hughes doesn’t carry a ton of distance off the tee by any means, but that shouldn’t be a huge issue for him to overcome at a short venue like River Highlands, where he’s finished T42-T17 the past two seasons. At just $7,100 he looks like solid value this week in DFS and should be well rested to go after another top-20 finish given that he didn’t play in the year’s third major last week. I like him to perform well for fantasy players looking for cheap upside on DraftKings.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.