After a strange week at Baltusrol Golf Club, we head to TPC River Highlands for the Travelers Championship.
I only say last week was strange because what I assumed were home-run plays (Rory, DJ, Chappell, Finau, etc.) were all packing their bags early. Majors are usually defined by how well it identifies the best golfers in the world. The fact that Rory and DJ both missed the cut tells us that the course setup was not all that great. I will go ahead and blame the dumb pin placements/strange greens but I will admit I didn’t get to watch all the tournament in its entirety like usual. Rory and DJ combined to lose 7.785 strokes putting in the four total rounds they played! Luckily, I was off the grid camping for my lovely wife’s birthday for much of the weekend. Woohoo!
The course this week is TPC River Highlands, a short par 70 that plays much differently than a lot of the courses we’ve seen lately. For that reason, I would not lean heavily on recent form. Instead of all the massive par 4s over 450, we get a lot of par 4s in 410-450 range. For even the shortest of hitters on TOUR that means a lot more wedges and short-iron play.
There have been some renovations since last year but they are are mainly cosmetic or changes to help environmentally. That being said, even a minor tweak to a sight line or approach shot can make all the difference to PGA TOUR pros sometimes, so I would devalue course history just a teeny, tiny bit this week but still give it a nice look.
River Highlands is a Pete Dye Design, so it’s definitely worth looking at who has performed well on other Pete Dye Designs.
Some events/courses I’ve identified as potentially correlated include: RBC Heritage, Honda Classic, Colonial, Congressional CC, Valspar, Byron Nelson, and Sony Open. None of them are a perfect 1-to-1 fit, but they all share certain aspects so having a look at some of these events could be a nice tiebreaker.
Have a look at the Fantasy Golfanac for more information on the course setup and golfer quotes from recent years.
Players to Watch
Matt Kuchar… The cats out of the bag that Kooch dominated Pete Dye Designs. Just looking at the past few seasons, he’s finished inside the top 25 in six of his eight starts on Dye tracks. He’s also a par-4 grinder so he rises to the occasion on par 70s and the lack of length on TPC River Highlands also plays into his hands. This is kind of a perfect fit and with him currently 11th in the Ryder Cup standings he has some nice motivation as well. Boom goes the dynamite! Don’t overthing this one.
Bubba Watson… Speaking of Ryder Cup motivation, Bubba is ninth in the standings and returns as the defending champ (2-time champ). It’d be surprising to see a finish outside the top 20. The only concern is the lack of form. Just three top 10s on the season and five top 25s. Like I said before, I wouldn’t lean too heavily on form this week, but that is one reason to look elsewhere this week.
Branden Grace… Missed the cut in his debut here last year but I’m expecting much better this time around. Continues to put his name into the mix on almost a weekly basis.
Kevin Chappell… I loved him last week because of his past performance on bentgrass and par 70 tracks. He disappointed but now he gets those same two angles but also a short course which also suits his game. I expect a big bounceback this week.
Luke Donald… He’s been a shadow of his old self but this is the type of layout that could get him back on track. It’s a short par 70 that doesn’t rely on distance. I’m not extremely high on him, but I wouldn’t talk anyone out of him this week, either.
Russell Henley… Another great fit, probably more so than Donald, even. He’s been hit-or-miss all season, but I would expect a hit this week. GPP only for DraftKings purposes due to his season inconsistencies, but a great GPP play, in my opinion.
Michael Kim… Speaking of underpriced DK options. Kim hasn’t shown the firepower in his rookie season, but sometime consistency is king, especially when it costs just $5.5K on DraftKings. He’s 20-for-25 on the season including five straight top 50s. Talk about salary-savings but hard to fully commit with his lack of pop.
Brian Harman… Has positive course form on six of the seven correlated events I previously mentioned and finished 3rd here last year. I don’t remember the last time I recommended Harman but he’s definitely on my radar this week.
Jon Rahm… I’ve been one of his biggest supporters early on but I don’t see this layout fitting his game that well. His approach play is his biggest “weakness” and that will get you in a lot of trouble this week. Last year Paul Casey said this, “If you short side yourself, especially if you get over these greens, you’re going to be in a world of hurt.” Back in 2012 Stuart Appleby also said, “if you short side yourself here, you’ll drop more shots than I think anywhere else because it’s just diabolical.” He’s been an absolute birdie machine so far so I cant’ completely ignore him on DraftKings, but this will be my lowest week of exposure to-date.
Bryson DeChambeau… Making his last available start (12th) as a Non-Member. Needs a third-place finish or better to earn his meal ticket to the TOUR. If you want to take the motivation angle, this is the week, but it’s turned out the wunderkind may need more seasoning after all.
Gary Woodland… Before last week’s missed cut he’d posted top 30s in 8-of-9 starts. I’m willing to throw out last week’s results since they were pretty wacky all around. Has posted top 25s in eight of his last 12 starts on courses under 7,100 yards so he’s not afraid to take advantage of his length with great wedge play.
Travelers Championship Cheatsheet… Head over to Daily Fantasy Solutions and grab this week’s DraftKings cheatsheet! It should go live this week early Tuesday.
My Top 25 for the 2016 Travelers Championship
1. Matt Kuchar
2. Bubba Watson
3. Paul Casey
4. Francesco Molinari
5. Webb Simpson
6. Gary Woodland
7. Tony Finau
8. Kevin Chappell
9. Branden Grace
10. Brooks Koepka
11. John Senden
12. Patrick Reed
13. Tyrrell Hatton
14. Zach Johnson
15. Justin Thomas
16. Charley Hoffman
17. Jim Furyk
18. Russell Henley
19. Keegan Bradley
20. Brian Harman
21. David Toms
22. Louis Oosthuizen
23. Soren Kjeldsen
24. Ryan Moore
25. Russell Knox