Travelers Championship Fantasy Preview

After an exciting, but odd, week at Erin Hills it is time to get your umbrellas out and head east for the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut.

Big props to anyone that successfully faded Rory, DJ, Day, Rahm, Scott, Charl, and Rose last week. I did not see that coming, but overexposure to Brooks certainly helped salvage what could have been a disastrous week.

This week’s course is TPC River Highlands. It’s a par 70 that plays at just 6,841 yards… a bit shorter than last week’s venue that stretched out past 7,800 yards. River Highlands is a Pete Dye Design with bentgrass greens. There are two holes where the field averages less than 260 yards off the tee (423-yard par-4 17th and 341-yard par-4 2nd). Other than that, it’s not extremely restrictive off the tee.

From a layout perspective, seven of the par 4s land between 410-to-450 yards. Golfers that score well from this range include: Paul Casey, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, William McGirt, and Daniel Berger. We are looking for golfers that can thrive with their wedges and short irons this week. Chris Stroud had this to say about the course in 2015, “I’m not a bomber, so it’s nice to be able to have a lot of short irons into the greens. I even have a note in my yardage book, as long as I’m sharp from 100 yards to 165 this week.”

There is some water in play off the tee here, but it’s nothing extreme like the St. Jude Classic or TPC Sawgrass. With driving relatively easy here, I am looking primarily at strokes gained approach for my key stat. Paul Casey laid it out nicely a few years ago, “they’re tucking the pins away and putting them on some funky little slopes. If you short side yourself, especially if you get over these greens, you’re going to be in a world of hurt.” For that reason, any stat that looks at iron play should be very important this week (SG Approach, GIR percentage, Proximity, etc.).

Looking for similar courses, I found the following to be closely correlated: Sheshan International, Riviera CC, Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course, TPC Boston, and TPC Sawgrass.

Check out the Fantasy Golfanac for more information on course setup, tournament angles, and golfer quotes.

Players to Watch

Paul Casey
Paul Casey… Was right in the mix at Erin Hills before losing the battle with the fescue one too many times. Has gained 5 or more strokes over the field in 8 of his last 10 starts. Really strong form and he’s finished runner-up and T17 in two appearances here.

Emiliano Grillo… Never got it going at Erin Hills, missing his first cut since January at the CareerBuilder. Speaking of cuts made, the Argentine is a perfect 12-for-12 in making cuts during the summer season. Summer Soltice begins Wednesday, so I guess it’s the perfect time to hop on the Grillo bandwagon and see if he can keep it rolling in the heat.

Rory McIlroy … Returned from an injury and instantly missed the cut. Had to be some rust in that long game, right? Not exactly. He gained 2.98 strokes off-the-tee and 1.18 strokes approach, but gave back nearly 6 shots with his putter! It was the first time he was using the fancy Spider putter that Day/DJ/Sergio/Rahm/Harman/Half the TOUR uses. I don’t think he’d make the switch if he was putting that poorly ahead of time. Should get it corrected, and should be right back in contention this week.

Jason Day… While Rory had an awful week putting at Erin Hills, Jason Day continued to struggle with his iron game. Day lost 4.63 strokes approaching-the-green. He hasn’t gained strokes on approach since the Farmers back in January. I don’t think the slump lasts forever, but I’m also not ruling out a serious problem in his swing that may take even longer to fix. I owned ZERO shares of Day last week, and I’m debating on whether I should do the same thing this week. Right now I’m leaning toward a fade and waiting until he has at least one week of gaining strokes on approach.

Bubba Watson… Another potential big-name fade for anyone looking to cut down their player pool. But is that the right move? Over the last five years he’s racked up 87 birdies at TPC River Highlands and he’s won here twice (2010, 2015). The T6 at the Memorial is nice to see but it’s also important to remember that is his only top 30 of the season (excluding SBS Tourney of Champs where he finished 25th of 32). Right now he’s still on my list of playable golfers, but I’m keeping my expectations low.

Jim Furyk… Sticking to golfers that fell off the map this year, Furyk finally snapped a slide of six straight MCs when he finished T23 last week at Erin Hills. Now he returns to the site of his infamous 58, consider me slightly interested.

Webb Simpson… Some of the recent winners here include Bubba Watson, Russell Knox, and Ken Duke. Not exactly a list of golfers you’d paid to give you a putting lesson. That bodes well for someone like Webb who has struggled with the flat stick but actually found some putting form recently. It would not be surprising to see him keep the hot putter rolling on these greens.

Bud Cauley… Much like Webb, Cauley has been a pretty bad putter over the last few years but seems to be rolling a few more in lately. That has resulted in top 25s in four of his last six starts, three of those doubling as top 10s. He’s never the safest play to earn a paycheck but I like him as a boom-or-bust GPP option on FanDuel or DraftKings.

Wyndham Clark… This kid could be the real deal. His Sagarin Rating for his senior season was 68.41 which is worse than Rahm’s senior year but better than Rahm’s junior season. That also grades out better than plenty of other top-tier talent that we’ve seen flash some PGA TOUR success (Ollie Schniderjans, Bryson DeChambeau, Lee McCoy, Robby Shelton, Aaron Wise, et al). I’m not diving into the deep end with him this week, but I will dip my toes in the pool. Same goes for Brett Coletta who recently showed he can hang with a T25 at the Memorial.

Patrick Reed… I talked about Day’s approach game being in shambles. That was Reed just a few months ago but he’s really rounding into form with top 25s in four of his last five starts, gaining strokes on approach in four of the five. Wouldn’t be a shock to see him pick up his sixth career victory before the summer is over.

My Top 25 for the 2017 Travelers

1. Paul Casey
2. Rory Mcilroy
3. Jordan Spieth
4. Marc Leishman
5. Justin Thomas
6. Patrick Reed
7. Jason Day
8. Brandt Snedeker
9. Webb Simpson
10. Bubba Watson
11. Brian Harman
12. Byeong Hun An
13. Daniel Berger
14. Tony Finau
15. Emiliano Grillo
16. Bud Cauley
17. Jim Furyk
18. Brendan Steele
19. Charley Hoffman
20. Zach Johnson
21. Graham DeLaet
22. Russell Knox
23. Kevin Na
24. Ryan Palmer
25. Kyle Stanley

This article has 23 comments

  1. How far off the list was Lucas Glover? His course history isn’t the best, but he was dreadful with the putter those seasons that he MC’d and his putting is close to average now. Also, while this course seems to fit Na perfectly, how did you weight his so-so course history. Contradictory questions I realize.

    • Glover is someone I never play on bentgrass. I think he has just one top 25 on bent since 2014 (I say I think because I’m mobile currently).

      Na is an interesting case since he went back home to Korea to “recharge” last month… Was right in the mix last week so maybe the rest from PGA events helped. Someone I’ll need to dive into more to see how much I really like him this week.

  2. Hi Josh, were do you pull your stats from for the previous tourneys? Were did you find out Rory was positive SG off tee and approach and lost putting strokes. Thanks

    • Last week is a bit unusual because the data wasn’t tracked by ShotLink. You can go-to a golfers profile though and click on their scorecard from last week. All their stats will be there.

      • Thanks Josh! Hopefully in the near future these stats will become available via a spreadsheet over the Players last 8,12,16 etc rounds. Or is that available already? Thanks

    • I think DeLaet has the best chance from that group. Stanley fits the course profile too as he just pounds green after green and he’s been in great form this year.

      • Ended up just going Reed. I’d love a write up on the US Senior Open if you could. Or really just who you think wins it

  3. Any reason why Tway did not make your top 25. Seems to do well on Bentgrass and I like his short game appraoch. Thanks Josh Love reading your stuff.

    • His long-term stats are still dragging him down for me. Of course you could say those stats from a few years ago could be ignored but I’d rather see it for more than a two-month stretch before I start to reevaluate Tway.

      I understand the logic to follow the form, but that doesn’t do it for me personally.

  4. Hey Josh,
    Read your stuff on Roto this morning… Yeah I was “that guy” that picked DJ and MC… Saw you went Bubba on your OAD…. I was leaning towards Leischman but you have me worried about his PM tee time.. should I change to an AM tee time player like Stanley? Will it be that much of a difference?

    • No, no. The AM tee time thing is on a daily basis. That matters more in a format like Yahoo where you sub round-by-round.

      In theory, Leishman will still have great scoring conditions for his Friday AM tee time. I think Leish is a solid play.

      • Ahh OK I get what your saying now! I need a guy that can make birdies and I think Leish can do that for me. You think -14 or -15 wins it?

        Yeah I just knew DJ was going to be looking at a top 5 finish at least… That course ate up a lot of good golfers..

  5. Hi Josh,

    I’m wondering where you find your stats for efficiency scoring on holes of certain lengths: i.e. Par 4s 400-450 yards. The site has stat pages for these but nothing shows up if you click into them. Do you pull this information from somewhere else or is it just data you’ve tracked and compiled on your own?


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