Coming off the second major in three weeks, the PGA Tour moves to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship this Thursday. TPC River Highlands in Cromwell will welcome a solid field to town, but without a number of Europeans you’ve gotten used to over the last few weeks, so your choices might feel a bit more constrained. Here are a few players I think are worth considering for your lineups, from every price range.
Bubba Watson ($12,300) – I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention him – he’s the most expensive guy on the board for a reason. The all-time career earnings leader at TPC River Highlands, he is coming off a win here last year, his second on the course (2010), and he also has a T2 in 2012 and a couple of other top ten finishes to go along with all that. Now, that being said, the course has undergone some major renovations since last year, and while it should still favor length (at under 6,900 total yards), it’s not a given that Watson will find the track as easy as he has in years past.
Brooks Koepka ($11,200) – Koepka obviously has the length, if that’s a prerequisite, and at number nine on Tour in Birdie or Better %, he’s shown an ability to close out holes and put up fantasy points. He is coming off a T4 at Baltusrol in his first action back from an ankle injury, in which he fired three rounds in the sixties, including a low number of 66 on Saturday. He managed 17 birdies and an eagle in that performance, and if his game is in that kind of shape again here, you should only expect those numbers to improve.
Matt Kuchar ($10,600) – OK, so maybe I am done recommending Kuchar in a major for a while. But the guy still has six straight top ten finishes in non-major settings. He has only 44 holes over par in those six appearances, an average of just seven or so bogeys per weekend. In something of a top-heavy field, I think he makes a great cash-game option here, despite the setback last weekend at the PGA Championship. For a price that doesn’t completely bust your budget, he has the talent to grab a seventh non-major top-ten finish in a row, even if he is not at his very best.
Webb Simpson ($10,000) – He represents something of a a convergence of trends here, with four top-ten finishes in his last six (the US Open and British Open being the exceptions), as well as a great track record here at the Travelers, making six of six cuts and finishing inside the top-15 here twice. He is currently only 151st in Stokes Gained: Putting on Tour, but that’s a number that has gone up more than 40 spots over the last month. Clearly his game is trending in the right direction right now, and that ability to drain putts will come in handy on a course that has seen the last five winners average just better than -15.
Russell Knox ($8,600) – He has been inside the top-25 in six of his last ten tournaments, including a T22 last weekend. He opened with two rounds at even par, and then stepped up his game over the weekend, shooting 67-69 on Saturday and Sunday to finish -4. He’s hoping those last two days carry over here, and they certainly could – currently sitting at fourth on Tour in Greens in Regulation % (GIR), he should be able to leave himself plenty of chances to make birdie this weekend on a shorter course with plenty of reachable holes.
Brendan Steele ($8,500) – He has played here at River Highlands five times, and finished inside the top-20 in four of them – more than enough to return value at this price. And while he failed to make the cut at either the Open Championship or the PGA Championship, he was inside the top-20 at both the US Open and the Memorial just prior, so you know he is hoping a return to a favorable course will get his game back on track. He just couldn’t put the ball in the hole for the past two weeks, so he’ll need to see improvement out of his putter to continue his run of success here, and that recent streak gives him just enough downside to make him a GPP play only for me this weekend.
Tony Finau ($8,300) – This is a pick based mainly on the obvious: his world-class length. Currently third behind Dustin Johnson and J.B Holmes (and just in front of Bubba) in Driving Distance, he also happens to be priced just low enough to make that one trait enough to make him a solid play in any format. Unlike Bubba or Holmes, he doesn’t have to be your headliner to get you the advantage of that kind of distance off the tee. He has been on an interesting run of late, with three top-20’s since the beginning of May, but also his share of disappointing weekends. On this course, I expect the better version of Finau to show up and provide some value at this price, even if he isn’t necessarily vying for the victory come Sunday.
Ryan Moore ($7,800) – For me, a great option for any type of tournament this weekend, on the assumption that all his recent play will keep his ownership percentage down (nothing inside the top-30 since the Valspar Championship back in March). However, he has made four straight cuts, mitigating his downside somewhat, and more importantly, he has always found success here at River Highlands. A course where he has been inside the top-15 five different times, this is exactly the kind of place where he’ll be hoping to take his recent run of made cuts and build on that success.
Hudson Swafford ($6,900) – I like several players at this price or lower this weekend, which means I should have no problem fitting a couple of studs in my lineup when I want to. Swafford has made eight straight cuts and has finished inside the top-25 in two of his last three. Somewhat surprisingly, I’d imagine, he is inside the top-30 in the All-Around ranking, a couple spots ahead of someone like Hideki Matsuyama. I like him to make his ninth cut, with upside, plenty of reason to choose someone who is coming in at just $6,900.
John Senden ($6,700) – He wasn’t there for the US or the British Opens, but he finished T18 last weekend without a single round over par, for his fourth top-30 showing in his last five appearances (including a T11 at the Memorial). He averaged just over 14 birdies per round over those four appearances, more than enough to be returning solid fantasy value (DK Fantasy Point average over that span of 76.0). Even if he doesn’t win it, that counts as upside at this price, as the reality of his recent performances (as opposed to his 53.9 DKFP average for the season) just isn’t being reflected in his price tag at the moment.
Russell Henley ($6,400) – Henley showed up on the leaderboard at Baltusrol with a T22 showing, shooting 68-72-68-68. He has to be disappointed with a few missed opportunities on Friday because, despite that round, he still managed 14 birdies for the weekend on a tough course. He made a few putts, but did most of his damage off the tee, seeing his Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green ranking for the season jump almost ten spots on the back of just that one performance. If that kind of performance is repeatable, it could easily lead to more than his fair share of scoring chances this weekend, good news for someone you would have rounding out the bottom of your roster.
Bryce Molder ($6,300) – My single favorite play on the board this weekend for the price, he is the first name I find myself clicking on for every roster I go to construct. Currently top-20 in Strokes Gained: Putting and number two on Tour in Scrambling, he has shown a consistent ability to take his game from tee-to-green and mitigate it with creative recoveries and consistent putting. On a course where no one will be overly familiar, due to all the changes, he should be able to start off strong for the first two days, propelling himself into the weekend and scoring points for your roster for four straight days, on the cheap.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) 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.