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FanDuel PGA Lineup Advice: The Travelers Championship (2020)

Jun 23, 2020

Two straight weeks of loaded leaderboards and Sunday drama has reminded us why we love PGA DFS. For the second straight week, our article recommended the winner and the runner-up. In fact, this past week, we recommended the top four guys on the final leaderboard. It was great to see Webb Simpson get his second win of the season. As for us, our core plays helped us to a fifth-place finish (out of 95,000) in the “Lob Wedge” contest. We also cashed in the “Mega Eagle,” and various single-entry tournaments. It was a fun week rooting on our core plays. This week promises to be another good one as the world’s best golfers will tee it up at another great course.

There are 10 golfers priced at $11,000 or above on FanDuel this week. FanDuel provides DFS players with a salary cap of $60,000 to select six golfers for an average roster spot of $10,000. Justin Thomas ($12,000) is the only golfer priced in the 12K range. Rory McIlroy ($11,900) is the next most-expensive golfer after owning the top spot for what seemed like forever. Bryson DeChambeau ($11,700), and Jon Rahm ($11,500) round out FanDuel’s top five highest-priced golfers.

FanDuel has contests for everyone ranging from their “Mega Eagle” contest, where you can turn $9 into $100,000, to their $0.05 “Lob Wedge” contest, in which you can get a taste of mass multi-entering 150 lineups if you desire. Regardless of which contests you choose to play, the strength of this field means that if you finish constructing your roster and you don’t feel good about it, then you need to start over. Every lineup that you submit should feel like a good lineup this week. Whether you go stars-and-scrubs or take a more balanced approach, you should have a lineup that you like. I will be heavily relying on a balanced approach this week, as you’ll see from my recommended plays.

All of the tips and information that I mention in this article are plays that I will consider for my own lineups. In fact, most of the plays mentioned are based upon my customized model that includes a variety of statistics and results. However, that doesn’t mean that I will end up with all of the guys that I mention. This article is written early in the week, and additional news, research, and roster construction could lead me to different plays. Be sure to check out our twitter @WinningDFS101 for updates as the event gets closer. You can even ask us questions.

Work at having a solid process week-in and week-out as opposed to getting bogged down by recency bias or the ups-and-downs of the weekly golf grind. Use all the information available to you to make the best decision possible for your lineup. Good luck and, most importantly, have fun! Whether you win or lose, golf is one of the most entertaining fantasy sports to follow because you get four days of action.

Watch the tournament live on Golf Channel with FuboTV >>

Tournament Notes

  • The Travelers Championship is played at TPC River Highlands just outside of Hartford, CT.
  • TPC River Highlands is a Pete Dye-designed Par 70 course that measures 6,841 yards. It’s the second-shortest course on the PGA Tour (behind Pebble Beach). The fairways average around 35 yards and are tree-lined. The rough is quite thick, and it approaches four inches in some places.
  • 155 golfers are scheduled to tee it up this week with the top-65 (and ties) making the cut.
  • This is the first event on the revised PGA Tour schedule to take place in its original spot on the calendar.
  • Previous winners of the Travelers Championship that are in the field this week include Chez Reavie (2019), Bubba Watson (2018, 2015, 2010), Jordan Spieth (2017), Russell Knox (2016), Kevin Streelman (2014), Marc Leishman (2012), Hunter Mahan (2007), J.J. Henry (2006), and Phil Mickelson (2002, 2001).
  • The course is a well-balanced golf test with a mixture of long and short holes. The most notable stretch is hole numbers 15-17 which play around a four-acre lake. When you include the home hole, the four-hole collection is, according to Stewart Cink, “four of the most exciting finishing holes in a group anywhere in the world.”
  • The greens are a mixture of Bentgrass and Poa. They measure around 5,000 square feet, which is a bit smaller than average. The green speeds are 12 on the stimpmeter.
  • The average winning score has been 16-under par, and the average cut line is 1-over. However, just like the last two weeks, these numbers are sure to improve with the stronger field and the new cut rule.
  • Only the Waste Management Phoenix Open attracts more fans each year. Nearly 300,000 fans come out to watch the Travelers during the course of the week.
  • The two Par 5 holes have averaged a Birdie or Better rate of nearly 40%.
  • Nearly 67% of fairways are hit at TPC River Highlands (the tour average is 61%).
  • Patrick Cantlay shot a 10-under 60 to set the course record in 2011. It was the lowest round ever shot on the PGA Tour by an amateur. The course record was broken in 2016 when Jim Furyk shot a 12-under 58 (which is the lowest round ever on the PGA Tour).

Course Fit & Key Statistics

Overall Statistics
This course has seen a healthy mix of winners here, as bombers and short hitters have both done well. There are some very short holes that bombers can grip it and rip it. There are also a number of doglegs and precision holes that require great ball-striking. For this week, I’ll look at golfers that have a strong overall game. My customized overall stat model measures all stats (driving, approach, short game, putting, etc…) from both a short-and-long-form standpoint. The best golfers, in terms of stats, for my customized model this week (in ranked order) are Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Sungjae Im, Corey Conners, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland.

Recent Form
Even with a layoff due to Covid-19, golfers in “good form” have performed well. In each of the last two weeks, four of the ten golfers listed as having the best form had top-10 finishes that week. As a result, solid recent form continues to predict success. The golfers that rate out the best in my customized recent form model (in ranked order) are Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Abraham Ancer, Sungjae Im, Gary Woodland, Patrick Reed, Collin Morikawa, and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Among the golfers in this week’s field, Collin Morikawa leads the PGA Tour with 23 consecutive made cuts. Matthew Fitzpatrick is close behind with 20. The only other golfers in this field coming into the week with double-digit PGA cut streaks are Tyrrell Hatton (14), Patrick Cantlay (14), Paul Casey (14), Rory McIlroy (12), Abraham Ancer (11), and Ian Poulter (10). It’s worth pointing out that this will be Cantlay and Casey’s first event since the coronavirus shutdown.

Course History
This year’s field is stronger than any other field in the tournament’s history, as this event normally takes place the week after the Masters. As such, you’ll want to take course history with a grain of salt. Some players with strong course history may have finished well because the fields were weaker.

However, it’s still something to consider.  The golfers who have gained the most total strokes at this course during the last five years (in ranked order) include Paul Casey, Brian Harman, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Chez Reavie, Bryson DeChambeau, Kevin Tway, Brendan Steele, Patrick Rodgers, and Patrick Reed. Paul Casey has four top-five finishes in the last five years. Casey, Kevin Tway, Bryson DeChambeau, and Brian Harman are the only golfers with back-to-back top-10 finishes at the last two Travelers. Bubba Watson has won twice in the last five years. Keegan Bradley has the longest active streak of made cuts here at the Travelers with nine. Paul Casey and Vaughn Taylor have made the cut in each of their last five attempts.

Comparable Courses
This is a Pete Dye-designed course, which tends to mean narrow fairways, extreme angles on approaches, and tree-lined fairways. Many of the same players tend to play well on Pete Dye courses, so I will take that into consideration with who I play this week. Two additional tournaments (Genesis and Valspar) tend to have correlated results to the Travelers, so I will include them in my Pete Dye model for the week. The golfers that have performed best at these courses in the last three years (in ranked order) include Patrick Cantlay, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Paul Casey, and Bubba Watson.

Official World Golf Ranking
All the statistics and course history are good to know, but sports (in particular, DFS golf) oftentimes comes down to playing the best golfers. Sure, salary is involved, but fitting as many of the world’s best golfers in your lineups increases your chances for success. There is variance from week to week, but these players are the best for a reason. Fifteen of the world’s top-20 golfers are playing this week, including Rory McIlroy (No. 1), Jon Rahm (No. 2), Justin Thomas (No. 3), Brooks Koepka (No. 4), Dustin Johnson (No. 6), Patrick Reed (No. 7), Patrick Cantlay (No. 9), Xander Schauffele (No. 10), Bryson DeChambeau (No. 11), Justin Rose (No. 13), Marc Leishman (No. 15), Tony Finau (No. 17), Gary Woodland (No. 18), and Sungjae Im (No. 20).

Favorite $11,000-plus Plays

Justin Rose ($11,100)
I have no problem with any of the top guys from a win equity standpoint, and I will have exposure to all of them in my 150 MME lineups. However, I will fade most of these guys in my main lineup unless it looks like the ownership on one of them is extremely low. Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas are my two picks to contend for the win on Sunday, but I’m afraid they will carry too much ownership for my main GPP lineups. JT has top-10 finishes in ten of his last 13 events.  As far as Bryson is concerned, his T8 at the RBC Heritage was the first time in five events that he was outside the top five. In the last 24 rounds, he is first in total strokes gained and second in fantasy scoring. The 11K guy that I will have the most exposure to is Justin Rose.

Rose, the world’s former number one player, looks to finally be getting his mojo back with a T14 last week and a T3 at the Charles Schwab. During that very small sample of eight rounds, he is first in fantasy scoring and third in total strokes gained. He hasn’t played at this event in a while, but he finished T13 in 2013 and T9 in 2009. If his ownership is lower, I can see him being a staple of my GPP lineups. If he has decent ownership, then he will probably find his way into a couple of my cash game lineups.

Favorite $10,000 Plays

Abraham Ancer ($10,600)
He was runner-up at the RBC Heritage despite not having a great week on the greens. He didn’t putt poorly, but he just didn’t do anything spectacular. Other than just a “meh” putting performance, his game was spot on for the entire week. He hit the ball as well as anyone. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a win coming for him sometime soon. In the last 24 rounds played, he is fifth in total strokes gained and eighth in fantasy scoring. He is top-10 in all the ball-striking categories. He tends to play Pete Dye courses well, and he was T14 at the Charles Schwab a week ago. He now has a streak of 11 straight made cuts on the PGA Tour. To top it all off, he was T8 here at last year’s Travelers.

Collin Morikawa ($10,500)
Nobody has made more cuts in a row than the 23-event streak Morikawa is currently riding. Nothing is certain in DFS golf, but he is a good value play, especially when you consider that he is seventh in fantasy scoring over the last 24 rounds. As good as he has played with a runner up at the Charles Schwab and ninth at the API, he tends to outscore his finishing position. He finished T36 here last year in only his third-career professional event.

Sungjae Im ($10,400)
He surprisingly missed the cut last week and his price dropped by $500. I will take the discount for a guy who had three straight top-10 finishes before last weekend. He is sixth in my customized stat model, and during the last 36 rounds, he is ninth in total strokes gained.

Patrick Reed ($10,300)
Only Rory McIlroy has scored more fantasy points in the last 36 rounds than Reed. He is also fourth in total strokes gained during that time. He is similar to Sungjae Im because he missed the cut last week, but he was hot prior to that. He won the WGC-Mexico, was T15 at the API, and he was T7 at the Charles Schwab coming out of the break. That said, he has a mixed history here. He was T30 last year after a missed cut in 2018. However, he was T5 in 2017 and T11 in 2016. He is another golfer that I’ll gladly take a price discount on.

Gary Woodland ($10,000)
He struggled to put anything together last week, but despite playing poorly (for him), he still made the cut. Overall, he has top-12 finishes in seven of his last 10 events. In the last 36 rounds played, he is seventh in both fantasy scoring and total strokes gained. He had some unusual struggles hitting fairways last week. However, golfers hit the fairways here at a much higher clip than normal. If he can be average, then his superior approach game should have him hitting green after green giving him birdie putts. He was T9 at Charles Schwab and T8 at Honda. He is just priced way too low for a player of his talents.

Favorite $9,000 Plays          

Joaquin Niemann ($9,800)
He is a very good ball-striker that has shown an ability to get hot with the putter. Since coming back from the break, he was T5 last week and T32 at the Charles Schwab. During that time, he is eighth in both total strokes gained and fantasy scoring. Last year, he finished T5 at the Travelers.

Scottie Scheffler ($9,600)
He withdrew from last week’s event (hopefully you saw that we recommended Joel Dahmen on Twitter as a lineup replacement). I still like Scheffler for this week, especially on smaller greens as there is less opportunity to demonstrate how bad of a putter he can be. If he could just make a putt, he might win an event. In his last event (Charles Schwab), he lost more than three strokes on the greens last week, but he gained strokes tee-to-green, off-the-tee, and on approach. In the last 36 rounds, only Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed have scored more fantasy points than Scheffler. During that same period, he is 10th in total strokes gained. He is a good ball-striker who is not afraid to go at pins. So far in the 2019-2020 PGA season, he has seven top-20 finishes, including three top-fives.

Corey Conners ($9,500)
He is an elite ball-striker and should put himself in a good position to hit birdie putts this week. The problem is that he is a poor putter. However, the greens are on the smaller side, and he shouldn’t have to worry about a lot of three-putts. If he can get hot in one round, he could put himself in a position to contend on Sunday. He finished T21 last week and was T19 at the Charles Schwab. Looking at a small sample size of just the last eight rounds, he is 10th in the field for fantasy scoring and 13th in total strokes gained.

Joel Dahmen ($9,400)
He shot a terrible 75 on Sunday at the RBC Heritage, leading to a T48 finish. This was his first finish outside the top-20 in four tournaments. His 68-68-63 gives me hope, along with his eight straight made cuts. He also finished fifth at the Genesis back in February. In his last 24 rounds of golf, he is eighth in total strokes gained.

Favorite $8,000 Plays

Max Homa ($8,800)
He hit the ball well last week, but he just couldn’t get anything sustainable going with the flat stick. Overall, he has made the cut in 16 of his last 18 events. He finished T5 at the Genesis, which has some comparable results to this event. In the last 24 rounds played, he ranks sixth in total strokes gained and 12th in fantasy scoring. He has three top-10 finishes in the 2020 calendar year. His results have been good, and he is feeling really confident right now. After his round concluded on Sunday, he said, “The game feels frickin’ awesome. I don’t know if I’ve ever hit it this consistently well with my irons.” He is playing well and his price is too low. He will probably be my highest-owned player of the week.

Favorite $7,000 Plays

Wyndham Clark ($7,800)
I don’t like to play many players below $8,500 on FanDuel and I definitely don’t like dumpster diving into the 7K range. However, I am a fan of Wyndham Clark. I always play him in some FOMO lineups and this week, he actually rates out decently. Don’t go crazy on anyone in this range. It is tough enough to predict which good players will make the cut. It is nearly impossible to consistently predict which below-average player will make the cut from week to week.

With that said, I like that Clark was T15 here last year, and he showed some life this past week. He was on the leaderboard going into the weekend before finishing T64. He has made six of his last seven cuts with three top-20 finishes. If he can make the cut, the one huge positive about Clark is that he tends to outscore his finishing position. Other 7K golfers that I’d consider sprinkling into my MME lineups with 2-5% allocation this week includes Stewart Cink ($7,900), Tyler Duncan ($7,900), Mark Hubbard ($7,800), Mackenzie Hughes ($7,600), and K.H. Lee ($7,000)

Watch the tournament live on Golf Channel with FuboTV >>

Jamy Bechler is a regular contributor to FantasyPros for NBA, NFL, and PGA. You can follow him on his DFS twitter @WinningDFS101. When he is not playing DFS, Jamy is an author, host of the “Success is a Choice” podcast, and a leadership consultant, working with businesses and teams across the country (including the NBA). Even though he offers his advice on players and contests, after additional information and consideration, he may end up using different players and strategies than what he recommended in this article.

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