PGA DFS Primer: Travelers Championship (2021)
Jon Rahm managed to pull off an incredible comeback victory at Torrey Pines South course this past weekend, hitting back-to-back long-distance birdie putts to finish -6 and win the U.S. Open over Louis Oosthuizen (-5) in poetic fashion. The 26-year old Spaniard dominated the Memorial Tournament through three rounds but was forced to withdraw after an asymptomatic positive COVID-19 test, making his victory at Torrey Pines that much more rewarding. It was a fun end at a difficult course, as the overcast “June Gloom” weather didn’t stop paragliders from soaring around cliffs that flanked several greens and fairways.
Collin Morikawa finished T4 (-2), while Jordan Spieth T19 (+2) struggled a bit more with his approach shots and putter early on during the tournament. This early struggle, unfortunately, prevented Spieth from being a true contender this past Sunday. These were two of my favorite players projected to compete in the U.S Open, and although they didn’t win outright, having both finish inside the top-20 and one within the top-five is satisfactory. Patrick Cantlay had a great performance in the final round, going -2 to finish T15 (+1) and showcasing the strong play that we’ve witnessed from him across the last few months, most notably finishing -13 and winning the Memorial Tournament a couple of weeks ago.
The PGA Tour heads from Southern California to Cromwell, Connecticut this week, with 156 players invited to compete at the 2021 Travelers Championship. TPC River Highlands is a vastly different course from Torrey Pines South and should allow for some less prominent golfers to ascend the leaderboard at the non-major tournament this weekend. The fairways are shorter at 6,841 yards, and it’s a par-70, which will be noticeably less challenging than the ocean winds, cliffs, and lengthy fairways at Torrey Pines. There will be a need for great irons, and players who can gain strokes with their approach shots will be positioned for success. Here are a few golfers I like quite a bit in DFS lineups this weekend at the 2021 Travelers Championship.
- 2020: Dustin Johnson (-19)
- 2019: Chez Reavie (-17)
- 2018: Bubba Watson (-17)
- 2017: Jordan Spieth (-12)
- 2016: Russell Knox (-14)
TPC River Highlands is located in central Connecticut south of Hartford, spanning 6,841 yards as a par-70. This is nearly 1,000 yards shorter than Torrey Pines South, meaning accuracy and putting will be more important to climbing the leaderboard than the ability to crush a driver off the tee. Bentgrass fairways and Poa annua greens create a smooth playing surface, but the lengthy four-inch bluegrass fescue rough will compensate for the lack of ocean winds and cliff drop-offs that hampered golfers this past weekend at the U.S. Open.
A few of the players with past success at TPC River Highlands are available at a great salary heading into Thursday. Focusing on strokes gained, greens in regulation percentages, and shot accuracy are key to creating the ideal six-man lineup. Various oaks, maple, and sycamore trees line the fairways, forcing concise drivers and irons on shorter holes. Quite a few lakes and ponds are present and create massive water hazards near the greens at TPC River Highlands.
Relevant Betting Stats
- Greens in Regulation (GIR)
- Driving Accuracy
- Strokes Gained: Putting
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
- Birdie Average
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
Bubba Watson ($8,900)
One of the most experienced golfers at TPC River Highlands is Bubba Watson. The 42-year old American is coming off of a T50 (+8) finish at the U.S. Open but had a phenomenal -4 outing during the second round of the tournament before collapsing in its final two days. Watson has won the Travelers Championship three times throughout his career, most recently in 2018 (-17), and is among the best in strokes gained off-the-tee, ranking sixth on Tour this season. For these reasons, Watson is an incredible value pick for your DFS lineups.
Patrick Reed ($10,000)
The 30-year old Texas native has been playing great golf lately, finishing in the top-20 across five of his last seven tournament appearances this season. Although he has missed the cut twice during this stretch, Patrick Reed has a hot putter, ranking fifth in strokes gained putting (.831), which will keep him right in the mix at the Travelers Championship. Reed has finished within the top-25 during four of his nine appearances at TPC River Highlands. With his efficient play lately, Reed is safe and a great value option at the Travelers Championship this weekend.
Kevin Streelman ($9,400)
Kevin Streelman is another seasoned veteran on the PGA Tour who is playing some of his best golf entering the Travelers Championship. The 42-year old American has three top-10 finishes and ranks impressively in multiple strokes gained categories, including approaching the green (27th/.505), tee-to-green (32nd/.841), and off-the-tee (43rd/.281), which is the perfect recipe to dominate at TPC River Highlands. Streelman also ranks within the top-50 in driving accuracy percentage and 20th in GIR percentage. He’s one of my favorite plays in lineups this weekend based on a diverse skillset and is riding the momentum of four consecutive top-20 finishes.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
Scottie Scheffler ($11,400)
Scottie Scheffler is only 25-years old but has proven he belongs with the best on Tour this season. He finished eighth (-1) at Kiawah, third at the Memorial (-11), and seventh at the U.S. Open (-1) and will bring an extremely hot putter to TPC River Highlands this weekend. Scheffler led all players in strokes gained: putting at Torrey Pines South this past weekend, and his salary reflects his consistency dominating the greens. Poa annua greens will once again be the putting surface, which Scheffler handled masterfully during the U.S. Open. He is a fantastic play and worth the salary this weekend at the Travelers Championship.
Chez Reavie ($8,700)
Chez Reavie is one of the lesser-known golfers priced magnificently heading into the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands this weekend. Reavie won the tournament in 2019 (-17) and ranks highly in a couple of important statistical categories, including driving accuracy percentage (3rd/71.60%) and strokes gained approaching the green (26th/.512), which will both be beneficial at a smaller course that requires finesse over strength. Reavie’s familiarity with TPC River Highlands makes him a great salary-saving option, as he could climb the leaderboard to produce significant points to serve as a great value in your lineups this weekend.
Stewart Cink ($9,100)
Stewart Cink has had a rollercoaster year, winning at RBC Heritage and the Safeway Open to start the PGA Tour season. The 48-year old native of Alabama has not finished above T37 since his win at Kiawah two months ago, but TPC River Highlands holds a special place for Cink. He has won at this course twice, including his first title win during the third year of his lengthy 26-year career on Tour. Cink is elite in his GIR percentage, ranking seventh (70.03%), and averages nearly four birdies per round (3.98) to rank 39th. He’s a solid putter but really helps position himself for success with his strokes gained approaching the green, where he ranks 23rd. He’s an inexpensive option that is elite at getting to the green within regulation while having a favorable history at the central Connecticut course, making Cink one of my favorite discounted plays at the Travelers Championship this weekend.
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