If the U.S. Open got you excited for the convergence of world class golf and fantasy sports, it didn’t have to end last weekend. Ten of the top-25 finishers at Chambers Bay are going to be battling it out at the Travelers Championship this weekend, and you can continue to hone your skills until the next Millionaire Maker, next month at the Open Championship. So to help you out, here are a few players to consider for your lineups teeing off Thursday morning, from all across the price spectrum. Good luck!
Brandt Snedeker ($10,900) – Since missing the cut at THE PLAYERS, he has had three straight top ten finishes, with only one round over par (a 72 Friday at Chambers Bay last weekend). And he recovered from that round by shooting 70-68 over the weekend to end up with a solo 8. At the Byron Nelson and the Crowne Plaza, the two tourneys leading up to the open, he averaged 20 birdies each, just the kind of aggressive scoring he’d need to be successful this upcoming weekend.
Sergio Garcia ($10,400) – Sergio has always been able to make birdies. The last three tournaments he has played in the states have been the big ones, and he has come through with all very good performances: T17 at Augusta, T2 at THE PLAYERS, and then a T18 last weekend at the Open. Last year at this tournament he finished T2, and even if he doesn’t finish that high this year, it will be because of too many bogeys. But the birdies are going to be there, so the fantasy points should be as well.
Louis Oosthuizen ($9,900) – The thing about this weekend is that I wouldn’t be surprised if the top ten or fifteen golfers in terms of DK price ALL finish in the top 30 or so. They are priced that way for a reason, the clear cream of the crop, and this course doesn’t offer up the challenges to knock guys off their games like an Open course can. I mean, I left Bubba off this list, and he has never missed a cut here since 2008, with finishes of 1, 2, 4 and 6. I didn’t include Billy Horschel, who has been inside the top-25 in four straight. I did include Oosthuizen because he finished T2 last weekend after a 77 on Thursday by firing a ridiculous 18 birdies at Chambers Bay, which should translate to something like 150 birdies at TPB River Highlands.
Marc Leishman ($9,700) – He is 4-for-4 in terms of making cuts here, including a T11 last year and a win in 2012, which included a final round of 62. He didn’t fare well last weekend, like so many others, but shot four rounds under par to finish T5 at the Memorial a couple of weekends before.
Tony Finau ($9,600) – He is quickly making a case for himself as the best newcomer to hit the Tour this year, impressive in a year that has seen some great performances out of a few rookies who look like they’ll be Tour mainstays for a long time coming. He is riding a streak of five straight top-20 performances, at a variety of very different courses. He is long, which certainly helped last weekend, and other bombers have shown they can dominate this course in the past – I expect Finau to extend that streak to six, and believe he will end up pushing for that first win.
Brendan Steele ($8,800) – Another guy with a 62 on this course in his past, he did is last year on Thursday, en route to his third top-15 finish here in four tries.
Francesco Molinari ($8,700) – I do not think Molinari is going to win this tournament – I just don’t know if he has enough birdies in him. But with the way he avoids the disaster holes, he scores often enough that I would be surprised to see him finish outside the top-25 with a course and a field like this one. And having that level of confidence at getting something useful from him is definitely valuable, even if he is not the pick that is going to win you a GPP – he just the pick who won’t kill you.
Russell Knox ($8,400) – He is top 5 in Par-4 Scoring, which could be the kind of stat that predetermines success on a course where you will need to score on those reachable par 4’s in order to have a shot at making enough birdies to contend. He has made seven straight cuts, with five in the top-25, four in the top-20, and a T8 last time out at the St. Jude Classic. He hasn’t made fewer than 13 birdies in any of those appearances.
Will Wilcox ($8,000) – He has top 25 finishes in five of his last seven tournaments, including both the St. Jude Classic and Byron Nelson (his last two), where he has seven of eight rounds in the sixties, and fifteen birdies in each of them.
Justin Thomas ($7,900) – He is a player who scores more fantasy points than you might expect. A classic example of birdie-bogey being worth more than par-par in daily fantasy golf, he has at least seventeen birdies in five of his last seven tournaments, a stretch in which he is averaging almost 80 fantasy points per appearance, despite missing one cut and only finishing inside the top 20 three times.
Sean O’Hair ($7,400) – O’Hair is one of those picks based on nothing but the way he ranks in some relevant stats, such as Par 4 Birdie or Better % (#6, wedged between Jason Day and Dustin Johnson). He ranks that way because of his ability to consistently put himself in a position to have makable putts – he just needs to do a lot of that this weekend while avoiding the one or two holes that can ruin a round.
Vijay Singh ($6,600) – For whatever reason, he still plays here every year – this year will be the ninth straight time he’s teed it up for this one. And in the past eight, he has made the cut every time, and finished in the top 15 three times. Last year, he shot three rounds in the sixties on his way to a -6 T31.