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The week after the US Open has been the usual spot on the schedule for the Travelers Championship over the past few years and this season, it will be played as an elevated event. Most of the top players in the OWGR are in attendance and the field is led by world number one Scottie Scheffler, who finished 3rd again last week at the US Open. US Open runner-up Rory McIlroy is also in the field, as is Jon Rahm and the presence of these three golfers alone give this event a near major-like feel. The event also tends to rank highly among the players just in terms of hospitality, and the fun course setup is a good unwind for the pros off of what is always a grueling U.S. Open.
The cut this week returns to its regular format, with the top 65 players and ties making the weekend after Friday. Some players to note this week who are coming in off strong US Open finishes include Min Woo Lee (T5 US Open - $7,600), Harris English (T8 US Open - $7,800), Austin Eckroat (T10 US Open - $7,300) and Denny McCarthy (T20 US Open - $7,600).
TPC River Highlands—Cromwell, Connecticut
Par 70, 6,841 yards; Greens: Bentgrass/Poa
TPC River Highlands is a short par 70, featuring smaller bentgrass/poa greens and an eclectic blend of holes — it’s also the place where Jim Furyk had one of the greatest rounds of fantasy golf ever when he shot 58 on Sunday in 2016. In 2020, this venue was ranked just 32nd in terms of toughness (out of 41 ranked venues) and last year yielded a winning score of 19-under par for the second time in three seasons.
There are only two par 5’s on the course, but one of them is the extremely reachable 523-yard 13th hole, which should yield a high number of birdies and eagles for the week. And while the course only has two par 5’s, it also features two very drivable par 4’s, one of which is the 15th hole, which tends to play at under 300 yards most days and produces a lot of drama late on Sunday. There are also eight par 4’s that measure between 400-450 yards, making distance off the tee less of an issue, but placement and short approaches more vital.
The course itself was originally designed back in 1928, but it was reworked by perennial PGA course designer Pete Dye in 1982. While TPC River Highlands isn’t an original Dye venue, it still lines up nicely with many of his other courses on the PGA, mainly because it challenges players with tougher approach shots, many of which are guarded by water.
TPC River Highlands is somewhat comparable to other more technical tracks around the PGA, but it does differ in some respects from older venues like Waialae CC and Harbour Town in that its fairways are extremely easy to hit. This tends to give the big hitters a little more leeway off the tee and it's helped players like Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson find success at River Highlands in the past. The poa greens are also noteworthy as that tends to be a surface we see only on the west coast. West Coast specialists like Dustin Johnson and Chez Reavie (among others) have found this course appealing for that reason alone and taking a look at who tends to putt well on poa is a good idea if you are diving into some recent form stats.
In general, Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Putting stats have been the most important metrics to target here. Of the past five winners at TPC River Highlands, only two (Spieth 2017 and English 2021) have failed to gain over 5.0 strokes on approach in the week of their win. This venue is extremely short by TOUR standards, so good proximity stats from 150 yards and in this week should also be essential to success.
2023 Weather Outlook: The weather this week doesn’t look like it will have a huge impact over the first two days but rain over the weekend could hamper the pace of play and soften up the course. Thursday has a solid forecast with highs in the 76-78 F range. Wind will build gradually, so early a.m. starters are likely to get better conditions. Friday looks somewhat similar but there is a chance of some early morning showers on day two as well. That could work to soften up the course for the p.m. players, who may also get the benefit of playing in less rainy conditions or potentially missing the rain altogether. The weather has the potential to shift a lot this week with some of the precipitation that is in the forecast, so checking it out again on Wednesday night is highly recommended.
Last 5 winners
2022—Xander Schauffele -19 (over Sahith Theegala -18)
2021 — Harris English -13 (over Kramer Hickok playoff)
2020 — Dustin Johnson -19 (over Kevin Streelman -18)
2019 — Chez Reavie -17 (over Keegan Bradley and Zack Sucher -13)
2018 — Bubba Watson -17 (over Paul Casey -14)
- Eight of the last nine winners of this event had posted at least a T31 at TPC River Highlands prior to winning.
- The last five times this event was played after the U.S. Open (2017-Spieth, 2018-Watson, 2019-Reavie, 2021-English, 2022- Schauffele), the winner at the Travelers was a player who had participated in the U.S. Open the week before.
- In the last 3 seasons that the Travelers Championship has been played directly after the US Open (‘22, ‘21, + ‘19) the winner at TPC River Highlands had finished T14 or better at US Open AND gained over 8.0 strokes TOTAL at the US Open.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2022 Winner: Xander Sc-Thauffele (19-under par)
2022 lead-in form (T14-T18-T13-T5-MC)
- Dustin Johnson used a pretty familiar formula in 2020 when he won. He didn’t do anything impressive off the tee (and actually had a poor driving week for him) but ranked sixth in SG: Approach for the week and fourth in SG: Putting.
- 2019 Champion Chez Reavie used a similar formula as he ranked first on approach and was top 10 in SG: Putting, as well.
- Harris English was even more putter-reliant in 2021, gaining over 4.0 strokes putting for the week and also 2.9 strokes around the green. English was steady with his ball-striking but it was his performance with the scoring clubs that made the difference
- Unlike last week, TPC River Highlands has easy-to-hit fairways and a lot of softer par 4s, which makes this a less-than-driver venue — and one where we don't need to emphasize off-the-tee play. Efficiency and proximity with mid-to-short irons will be crucial.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value compared to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Brian Harman ($7,500; best finishes: T5-2021, T6-2018): Harman has found himself in contention or close to the top of the leaderboard at the Travelers on numerous occasions. The lefty has posted four top-10 finishes at TPC River Highlands over the last five seasons and leads this field in strokes gained total stats over that period. He faded on the weekend at the U.S. Open but gained four strokes on approach at the third major.
2. Kevin Streelman ($6,800; best finishes: win-2014, 2nd-2020): Streelman is the prototypical veteran player who has thrived at this event. He’s not a long hitter, but he is fourth in SG: Total stats at TPC River Highlands over the past five years and a former winner of this event. Like Harman, he gained over 4.0 strokes on approach at the US Open and could be a factor this week.
3. Keegan Bradley ($7,800; best finishes: T2-2019, T8-2017): Bradley made a run at the title here in 2019, ultimately falling short to Chez Reavie to finish as runner-up. The native New Englander rebounded at this event with a T19 last season (after missing the cut in ‘20 and ‘19). He played great last week, but his new price for this week could scare people off.
4. Patrick Cantlay ($10,200; best finishes: T11-2021, T13-2020): Cantlay showed up to this event as a rookie in 2011 and shot a 60, launching him into contention that season. He’s now played TPC River Highlands each of the past five years and finished T15 or better in all of those starts. After a good finish to his US Open last week, look for Cantlay to potentially be in the running this Sunday.
5. Jason Day ($8,400; best finishes: T10-2021, T8-2019): Day missed the cut at this venue last season but was in poor form compared to what he’s shown us in 2023. Since 2018 he’s finished T12 or better on three occasions at this venue and is a solid bounce-back candidate after three missed cuts in a row.
1. Scottie Scheffler ($11,500; 3rd-3rd-T3): Scheffler is on an unreal streak right now. Five top-5 finishes in a row and he hasn’t finished worse than T12 all season. Just get some exposure.
2. Rory McIlroy ($10,900; T7-third): McIlroy is picking up heat. He has four top-10 finishes in a row and he gained an incredible 13.8 strokes TTG at the US Open last week.
3. Tommy Fleetwood ($9,300; T7-T5): Fleetwood keeps pumping out massive rounds and stats. He’s finished top five two weeks in a row and gained over 8.0 strokes on approach last week in LA.
4. Austin Eckroat ($7,300; second-T14): Eckroat is a name on the rise. He posted a career-best major finish last week (T10) and has gained strokes OTT and on Approach on six straight events.
5. Denny McCarthy ($7,600; T2-T42): McCarthy followed up his runner-up finish at the Memorial with a T20 at the US Open. He’s playing solid at the moment and is a name to keep an eye on into the summer.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Enough value to ride Scheffler
Scottie Scheffler ($11,500) remains expensive but the deeper field this week again makes him easy to fit in. Scheffler’s tee-to-green game is unmatched at this point and his top 10 probability is getting into prime Tiger Woods territory. Using him means you should also be looking hard at players like Tom Kim ($8,100) and Russell Henley ($7,800) — two players who had very solid US Opens. Kim was one of the best players on the weekend at the US Open and Henley ranked second in strokes gained approach stats last week as well. Further down, the solid floor that Chez Reavie ($6,700 - see below) has provided of late makes him interesting and Mark Hubbard’s ($6,900) recent form is strong enough that he can be considered for this format as well.
Tournaments: Take the discount on Rahm
Jon Rahm was never really in contention last week but maybe that’s a good thing for his prospects this week. The Spaniard had strong stats across the board at LA CC and now comes to a shorter venue with poa greens that could give his putter a boost. Rahm’s form is starting to come around again and given how well this venue has correlated with other west coast venues like Riviera, looking to him as a big field tournament play makes some sense. Down the board, Adam Scott ($7,800) looks interesting here for the same reasons. He’s putted very well on poa greens of late and has looked close to grabbing a win in 2023 at various points. Other potential big-field GPP targets this week include Stephan Jaeger ($7,500), Doug Ghim ($6,900), Patrick Rodgers ($7,100), and Doc Redman ($6,300)
MY PICK: Collin Morikawa ($9,500)
This looks like as good a time as any to jump back on the Collin Morikawa train. The two-time major championship winner exited stage left in round three of the Memorial with back spasms (a bit of a red flag) but seems to have rebounded quickly. A T14 at the US Open last week was extremely encouraging, especially given his underlying stats, which saw him gain over 7.0 strokes Tee to Green and 9.0 strokes Total.
The move to the east coast may not be a poor one for Morikawa either. TPC River Highlands is a more technical track and features smaller poa greens that almost always give a boost to players who prefer that predominantly west coast surface. Morikawa’s putter has been an issue for him all season but it’s worth noting that he gained over a stroke putting at both the Farmers and Genesis this season, which are both played on venues with poa greens. His two prior visits to TPC River Highlands haven’t been overly fruitful but we saw Dustin Johnson come here with little to no course history in 2020 and blitz the field. Morikawa is of a similar class and certainly looks like he’s in good enough form to perhaps do the same this week.
At +2500, he’s a good place to start outright bets this week on the DraftKings Sportsbook, and is at a reasonable $9,500 price on DraftKings — making him a solid starter for balanced builds or a second man in for stars and scrubs builds.
MY SLEEPER: Chez Reavie ($6,700)
In terms of cheaper DFS plays this week, Reavie looks like a fantastic target for those needing some salary relief under $7,000. The winner of the Travelers back in 2019, Reavie has missed the cut at this event just once in his last 10 visits to the course and seems to have upped his performance at TPC River Highlands with age. The 41-year-old has gained over 1.0 stroke on approach at this venue/event in each of those last 10 appearances and also gained over 4.0 strokes putting on these greens in two of the past four seasons — one of which resulted in his first and only PGA TOUR win.
Reavie’s putter is another reason to like him this week, as that club has been solid for him of late and led to a small resurgence in the spring. He’s gained strokes putting in nine straight starts in 2023 and finally saw his irons come to life in Canada two weeks ago, gaining 4.9 strokes on approach at Oakdale CC. A west coast specialist who typically excels at venues like Riviera and Pebble Beach, it’s no shock he also has found some love for TPC River Highlands, given the similarities of the greens to those venues.
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