After a brief hiatus in 2020 thanks to COVID, the Travelers will once again be played just after the U.S. Open. This has been the usual spot on the schedule for the Travelers over the past few years and it’s turned out to be a solid one as many top golfers in the OWGR have chosen to play in the event the past few seasons. The venue and event also tend to rank highly among the players just in terms of preference, and the fun course setup is a good unwind for the pros off what is always a grueling U.S. Open.
The deeper field this year is led by world number one Scottie Scheffler who just missed out on grabbing his second major win of 2022 last week. Joining him will be fellow top 10 players in the OWGR in Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay — who both finished top 20 at the U.S. Open. Some other players to note from last week who will be making the trek to Connecticut include Denny McCarthy (T7 at the U.S. Open), Keegan Bradley (T7 at the U.S. Open) and Joel Dahmen (T10 at the U.S. Open). For DraftKings purposes, getting 6/6 players through the cut should again prove difficult given the size of the field, which will tap out around 156 players and feature a cutline where only the top 65 and ties will play the weekend.
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) but last year played harder, overall, as the winning score reached just 13 under.
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 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. And while the course isn’t an original Dye, it still lines up nicely with many of his other venues, mainly because it challenges players with several tougher approach shots, many of which are guarded by water — something that comes into play heavily down the stretch. The course has seen all types of players win. Big hitters like Bubba Watson and Marc Leishman have prospered at this event while several shorter hitters like Kevin Streelman, Chez Reavie and Jordan Spieth have also found success at these grounds.
In general, Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green 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 gained over 5.0 strokes on approach in the week of their win. Both men, however, were able to gain over 2.9 strokes around the greens.
The green complexes around this venue tend to be tough, and scrambling percentages tend to be lower than normal, so good short-game play can also be weighted here. It’s a venue where being great off-the-tee will only get you so far and being sharp with your scoring clubs (short irons, wedges and putter) is a necessity.
2022 Weather Outlook: The forecast for this week does have issues worth monitoring. Rain is expected for Thursday, with the most severe rain coming early in the day and before noon. That means Thursday a.m. starters could be teeing off in wet and somewhat cool conditions. It is supposed to get nicer out as the day moves on, though, and any delayed start could push the Thursday players into the p.m. Interestingly enough, the wind is supposed to die down down as the day progresses on Thursday but pick up again in the afternoon on Friday. A decent wave advantage could develop in favor of Thursday p.m starters, but only if there’s no delays, and only if the wind stays down Thursday afternoon. As always, it’s best to check again Wednesday to see if this early week forecast holds.
Last 5 winners
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)
2017 — Jordan Spieth -12 (over Daniel Berger playoff)
- Four of the last nine winners of this event were coming into the week off of missed cuts in their previous start.
- Seven of the last eight winners of this event had posted at least a T31 at TPC River Highlands prior to winning.
- The last four times this event was played after the U.S. Open (2017-Spieth, 2018-Watson, 2019-Reavie, 2021-English), the winner at the Travelers was a player who had participated in the U.S. Open the week before.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2021 Winner: Harris English (13-under par)
2021 lead-in form (3rd-T14-T64-T13-T43)
- Dustin Johnson used a pretty familiar formula in 2020 the win. 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 very similar formula when 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.
- While ball-striking reigned supreme last week, this course opens the door for a player to get hot with his putter or around the greens and get himself in contention
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 comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout +6500 and $7,800
- Jason Kokrak +8000 and $8,000
- Brendon Todd +10000 and $7,900
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Keegan Bradley ($9,400; 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 has missed the cut at this event the last two years but his overall record remains extremely good. He played great last week, but his new price for this week could scare people off.
2. Brian Harman ($8,600; 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 three top-10 finishes at TPC River Highlands in three of the past four seasons. He faded on the weekend at the U.S. Open but has been trending upwards over the last month or so.
3. Kevin Streelman ($7,200; best finishes: win-2014, second-2020): Streelman is the prototypical type of veteran player who has thrived at this event. He’s not a long hitter, but he is second in SG: Total stats at TPC River Highlands over the past five years and a former winner of this event. He’s coming in off two missed cuts, but his familiarity with the venue should precipitate a bounce back for fantasy purposes.
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 four years and finished T15 or better in all four 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 ($8,100; best finishes: T10-2021, T8-2019): He’s not for the faint-of-heart, but Jason Day does have a solid track record at this event/venue and likes Pete Dye setups, overall. Day has finished T12 or better at this venue in three of the past four seasons and has now made four cuts in a row coming in.
1. Rory McIlroy ($11,000; T7-third): Another major gone by and yet another top 10 for McIlroy who has now finished second, T8 and 5th at the first three majors of 2022. Just a week removed from a win, he remains in perhaps the best form of anyone in this field.
2. Scottie Scheffler ($11,200; T2-T18-2nd): After posting four wins in the first portion of the 2022 season, Scheffler has cooled down to just posting second place finishes every other week. He remains a threat to win any event he’s entered and is well deserving of the $11.2K salary.
3. Denny McCarthy ($8,900; T7-T5): Likely the biggest surprise of last week was seeing the shorter hitting McCarthy grab a top-10 placing. He’s been scorching hot with the putter of late (no surprise for him,) but if his approach game keeps firing, he could compete on this week’s shorter track.
4. Davis Riley ($8,300; second-T14): Riley fell off a little on the weekend, but made the cut in his second straight major and has finished T13 or better in five of his last six starts. He’s fourth in Strokes Gained: Total over the last six events and shouldn’t be overlooked, even with all of the big names in this field.
5. Xander Schauffele ($10,000; T2-T42): Schauffele has just been cruising along of late and posted a solid T14 last week. He’s missed two cuts on the year but also has an incredible seven top 20 finishes — and a win at the Zurich team event — in 2022.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Can’t miss with Cantlay and Steele
As noted above, Patrick Cantlay ($10,200) has been a solid start at this venue in each of the past four seasons, even despite never having won the event. He’s coming off a decent U.S. Open, where he posted a career best T14 finish, but still hasn’t been able to gets his hands on a stroke play trophy this year. He looks like a solid back at $10,200 for daily fantasy. As does Brendan Steele ($7,700) who comes in well under $8K in salary despite having posted two top-10 finishes in a row. The veteran missed the cut at this event last year, but is in fine form and did grab T21 and T6 finishes at TPC River Highlands in 2020 and 2019. Other potential values to target this week include Aaron Wise ($8,800), Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,800) and Adam Svensson ($6,800).
Tournaments: Stroll back to Sungjae
Editor’s Note: Sungjae Im has withdrawn from the Travelers Championship.
There were a lot of missed cuts from highly-owned players at the U.S. Open, with Sungjae Im ($9,700) doling out a lot a good portion of heartbreak. Im was playing well directly prior to the Country Club, however, and his missed cut last week only means there will be fewer people willing to chance at him this week at a salary just under $10K in price. His approach and short game have been sharp of late and he finished T21 at TPC River Highlands in 2020, gaining over 5.0 strokes putting in the process. Some other noteworthy players to consider for larger fields this week include Jason Day ($8,100) and Patrick Rodgers ($7,500,) who both have good experience and course history at River Highlands. Both are great poa annua putters (based on career strokes gained stats) and could easily push for a top 10 or better this week if their flat-sticks get hot.
MY PICK: Aaron Wise ($8,800)
Last week looked like it could be the coming out party for Aaron Wise, a player who grabbed his first win on the PGA TOUR back in 2018, but hasn’t been able to follow up on it since. The 25-year old started the event strong, but faded on the weekend to a T27 placing. Still, the T27 represented Wise’s best ever US Open finish and his second straight top-30 finish at a major. Wise’s 2022 is turning into a banner year, as he’s still only two starts removed from a runner-up finish at the very competitive Memorial event. He is trending upwards in almost every statistical category at the moment, as well.
Ranked fifth in SG: Approach over the last 24 rounds, his burgeoning around-the-green game was also on display last week at the Country Club, where he ranked second only to eventual winner Matthew Fitzpatrick in SG: Around-the-Green. That makes him a potential target for this week at a course where three of the last five winners all gained 2.9 strokes around the green, or more. This is player you should expect to see breakthrough again soon and, at under $9K in salary and at a very solid +5000 in the outright odds, he makes for a good daily fantasy golf and outright betting target this week.
MY SLEEPER: Cameron Davis ($7,500)
Around this time last season, Davis was in the midst of a nice run that saw him eventually breakthrough for a win at the Detroit Rocket Mortgage Classic, The Aussie again looks to be peaking for the summer season as he comes into this week’s event having gained over 2.5 strokes on approach in each of his last two starts. The ball-striking has been better for Davis of late, but his scoring clubs have been trending up as well. Davis has now gained strokes putting in six straight PGA TOUR starts, and that has allowed him to compete on some of these shorter, more technical tracks — he’s recently posted T3 and T7 finishes at both Harbour Town and Colonial.
Those two venues up above correlate well with what the players will be seeing this week in TPC River Highlands, and Davis is a player I’d expect to enjoy this layout, which promotes lower scoring (he won his first event at 18-under par). With most parts of his game trending up, this looks like a good time and place to rely on Davis as a value target, and let his cheaper $7,500 salary help you fit in more big names this week.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.