The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
The years fourth major has come and gone, and for the fourth time this year we got ourselves a first time major winner. Jimmy Walker won a stop and start tournament but was well deserving of the win. The course played soft but was still a real challenge for players as no one could make up any real ground on Walker over the weekend. For DFS purposes the season is far from over, as over the next three weeks the regular season has three tournaments that will decide the fate of many players’ Tour cards and Ryder Cup standings, then there’s the 4 week playoffs right after where you can expect major championship calibre fields again. This week, we get what should be a very fun and low scoring event in the Travelers.
The field this week is actually quite strong, and it’s going to really make for a good event. While many top players often skip the week after a major, many of the top players cannot afford a week off. The Ryder Cup is coming and there are Americans and Europeans alike chasing an automatic berth. Players like Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed are all trying to pile up some points while also hopefully winning some money. Then you have the international names in the field who are sticking around after strong weeks in the PGA Championship; players like Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton and Francesco Molinari. All in all, the week sets up great for DFS as there is good value littered around nearly every salary range and lots of great players to chose from. For cut purposes, the field this week will start around 150 players and be pared down to 70 and ties after Friday. A second cut may occur on Saturday if more than 78 golfers qualify.
TPC River Highlands—Cromwell, Connecticut
Par 70, 6,800-6,900 yards
This course will be an extremely different test from what the players saw last week. TPC River Highlands is a short par 70 which features a pretty eclectic blend of holes. There’s two par 5’s, one of which is extremely reachable by players in two and should yield a high number of birdies and eagles. And while the course only has two par 5’s, it also features two very drivable par 4’s, one of which is the under 300 yard 15th hole which always produces a lot of drama late on Sunday. In short, TPC River Highlands is a place where players can and must make birdies.
The course itself 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, even if overall it plays fairly easily. The course itself has seen players of all different types 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 have also found success at these grounds.
Hence, while big numbers off the tee are not required here, a solid iron game, and perhaps more importantly, a great week with the putter will be necessary as players will need to give themselves as many chances at birdie as humanly possible. Last year three of the top 5 finishers ranked top 5 in Greens in Regulation for the week. And while it’s not impossible to win here without hitting a lot of greens, the more birdie chances the better on a course where the winning score has been as low as -20.
Last 5 winners
- 2015 — Bubba Watson -16 (over Paul Casey in playoff)
- 2014 — Kevin Streelman -15 (over Sergio Garcia and KJ Choi -14)
- 2013 — Ken Duke -12 (over Chris Stroud in playoff)
- 2012 — Marc Leishman -14 (over Charley Hoffman and Bubba Watson -13)
- 2011 — Fredrik Jacobson -20 (over Ryan Moore and John Rollins -19)
- Four of the last six winners of the Travelers have been first time winners on the PGA Tour.
- The last three winners of this event were coming into the week off of missed cuts in their previous event.
Strokes Gained: Approach the Green
Approach Proximity 125-150, 150-175
This week may be more difficult to quantify than others, especially given the different profiles of winners we have seen at this event. Driving off the tee does not seem to be a huge issue as both short and long hitters alike have won here. I would definitely suggest looking heavier into approach stats this week, however, and a quick dive into last year’s stats sees both playoff protagonists (Casey and Bubba) from 2015 in the top 10 of Strokes Gained: Approach from last season. With TPC River Highlands set up as more of a second shot course, players gaining strokes over the field in approaches should prosper here.
That also brings us to more specific proximity stats. Our good friends at Fantasy Golf Metrics (@FGMetrics on twitter) have shown us through their stat analysis this week that approaches from 125-175 are the most common the players will have to encounter this week, and that makes targeting players ranked highly in these categories valuable. Finally, the last stat I’ve included this week is Birdie Average. While this course often boils down to whose putter gets hottest on Sunday, the Birdie Average ranking is never a bad category to weigh on a week like this where the winning score will approach the high teens and possibly beyond. Players who make a ton of birdies are never bad for DFS and should be more accustomed for the course they’ll see this week.
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.
|Chad Campbell||110-1||$6,200||Chesson Hadley $6,300 and 200-1
Jason Kokrak $6,400 and 125-1
Adam Hadwin $6,200 and 150-1
|Bud Cauley||125-1||$5,900||Brendon de Jonge $6,000 and 200-1
Mark Wilson $6,100 and 200-1
Troy Merritt $6,200 and 200-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
- Bubba Watson loves the Travelers, and more specifically, he loves TPC River Highlands. Since 2008 he has accumulated five finishes of T6 or better including two wins in 2010 and 2015. He’s easily the lead dog this week, although his form of late has been middling.
- Ryan Moore is definitely a close second as far as course form goes this week. Moore has done everything but win this event. Since 2006 he’s made 8/9 cuts here and accumulated five finishes of 7th or better (including two runner-up’s). Moore is a legit horse this week.
- Webb Simpson has been solid in each one of his appearances at this course, since 2008 he’s gone 6 for 6 in cuts made here, and in his last three visits he’s finished 29th or better. Webb enters this week off a nice finish at the year’s last major championship.
- Chris Stroud isn’t a name that generally pops up in this column, but his history at the Travelers deserves to be recognized. Since 2008 he’s played this event every year and never missed the cut. In his last three appearances he’s gone 2-18-10 in finishes and looks like a potential nice play in DFS this week.
This field and event is well stocked with quality players, and it has made the prices a little insane this week in my opinion. There is value to be had at all levels of salary with some really good looking potential plays at well under $6k. This week is really going to come down to nailing whichever one of these lower priced plays pan out the best as we should not have trouble fitting the top players into our lineups. With the course looking lush and a potential birdie fest on the horizon, researching and targeting the lower priced plays with the most DraftKings potential will be key and where most of your energy should be spent.
Top Performing Studs from Recent Weeks
- Brooks Koepka
- Branden Grace
- Webb Simpson
Top Performing Value Plays from Recent Weeks
- Daniel Summerhayes
- Chad Campbell
- John Senden
MY PICK: Gary Woodland ($9,100)
Woodland can only be described as a high-owned flop last week, but I really wouldn’t let that deter you from rostering him this week. Take out last week’s missed cut, and everything Woodland has done this season has been spot on for DFS. He’s made 16 of 19 cuts (never missing more than one in a row) and now finished 21st-2nd-12th in his last three events before last week. Woodland has been back working with legendary instructor Butch Harmon of late, and it has paid off. I can only guess that Woodland would take a huge boost of confidence from seeing another one of Harmon’s pupils, Jimmy Walker, win his first major last week. His record at TPC River Highlands may not look appealing, but he did finish T20 here last year when he was in much poorer form than this. The course this week looks lush and soft, and given his high ball flight and prowess off the tee, that should play right up Woodland’s alley. At $9,100 I’ll expect him to be lightly owned and a great GPP target.
MY SLEEPER: Bud Cauley ($5,900)
Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7,000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned
There are so many names I could mention under $7k this week, but the guy I think makes for the most intriguing value pick and potentially great play in tournaments is Bud Cauley. Cauley’s a very talented young player who hasn’t got near the media attention or build up of several other players in his age group, mainly due to some serious injuries he’s had to overcome. Cauley, however, looks healthy at the moment, and he showed us how talented he is back at the Byron Nelson when he finished T4 in his first tournament back after a layoff. This week he gets another soft par 70 to play at and a course where he opened with a 63 two years ago (and finished 11th). At $5,900, Cauley’s in play for me in any format this week, and his price at only $5,900 makes him the perfect stars and scrubs candidate.
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.