Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: Travelers Championship
The PGA Tour could hardly have asked for a more thrilling return to action as the premiere sporting events in the United States. After Daniel Berger prevailed in a playoff win in Texas, Webb Simpson pulled away from a jam-packed leaderboard with birdies on three of his last four holes to win the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
It was not all good news, however, as the Tour endured its first positive COVID-19 test (the unlucky Nick Watney). The lack of fans has hardly been a hindrance, but the positive test served as a stark reminder of why the Tour -- and the rest of the country -- put operations on hold in the first place. Some may question the decision, but the Tour is rightly credited with following protocol and, it would appear, isolating the incident and moving on without postponement or cancellation.
While things are far from normal, watching a great finish on a Sunday evening at least felt right for one more week. Another normalcy is an event being held in its normal slot on the calendar, with the Travelers Championship the annual follow up to Father's Day weekend, normally reserved for the U.S. Open. The Tour heads north to Cromwell, Connecticut and welcomes a few more name into the fold as things get back into full swing.
TPC River Highlands is a 6,841-yard par 70 that shares some architectural DNA with last week's track. Legendary designer Pete Dye has his fingerprints on both courses, with his trademark doglegs and blind tee shots. Golfers will contend with 69 bunkers, and while there are not many water hazards, golfers will risk getting wet on four of the final six holes.
Early forecasts look like some rain on Wednesday and over the weekend but nothing too unwieldy during the first two rounds. Give a slight edge to early starters on Thursday with Wednesday's rains potentially softening the course.
Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: TPC River Highlands
Distance: 6,841 yards
Fairways/Rough: Bentgrass/poa annua tees and fairways, and Kentucky Bluegrass/perennial ryegrass/fine fescue rough
Greens: Bentgrass with poa annua
|Season||Par||Yardage||Average||O/U Par Avg||Rank|
Like the RBC Heritage last week, the Travelers gets a major boost in overall field strength this week by virtue of not following a major championship on the schedule. While the course has largely played to about Tour average most years, we saw what a loaded field could do to the otherwise stout Harbour Town Golf Links. Last year, the field as a whole clubbed down more often than in past years, leading to the 11th-shortest average driving distance and the 8th-highest driving accuracy percentage.
River Highlands is one of the shortest courses PGA Tour pros will face all year, and no doubt many will try to overpower it this week. The rough here is the real defense, and without fans to trample down portions of it, there could be even more risk to missing the fairway this week. Overhanging trees will make approaches out of the rough nearly impossible.
With very few geographical comparisons, we can look to courses that require accuracy off the tee and emphasize approach play. The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort is much longer than River Highlands, but the correlation is elite approach play, often from long distance. With an iron in their hands off the tee, most golfers will need to land on the greens with a soft touch from long distance. Muirfield Village Golf Club (The Memorial) likewise rewards golfers who have their irons firing above all else. One man aside (we'll get to him below), recent winners of the Travelers have not been the longest of drivers but have all been quality ballstrikers overall.
These stats will be the keys to success in the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands.
|Key Stats for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands|
|Good Drives Gained|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Strokes Gained: Par 4s (especially under 450 yards)|
|Greens in Regulation Gained|
|Birdies or Better Gained|
Good drives would be defined as any drive that either hits the fairway or results in the golfer hitting the green in regulation anyway. We are looking for golfers that either land in the fairway off the tee or, if they miss, are not so wayward that they leave no shot at the green. Combining good drives with greens in regulation gained completes the pieces of the puzzle, and those stats typically go hand in hand.
We further emphasize the second shot with strokes gained: approach, once again our most heavily weighted stat this week.
For scoring stats, birdies or better will pop once again as no surprise. The winning score was 17-under par each of the last two years, a tremendously low number for a par 70 with only two par 5s. We will see some of the shortest par 4s on Tour, with 9 of the 12 measuring under 450 yards and none more than 500 yards. While driving the green is certainly a massive benefit, short par 4 performers are not always the longest guys on Tour. Golfers who can place the ball right into their desired wedge range can gain off the tee here.
Course History Studs
Bubba Watson is a three-time champion here, winning in 2010, 2015, and 2018. He's was also runner-up in 2012 and fourth in 2013. Watson is known more for his driving than his iron play, but the recent win here reinforces what we know about Bubba -- he lays waste to certain tracks independent of his overall form, and this is one of them.
Paul Casey picked this stop to be his first post-layoff start, and it's little wonder -- in five starts he has two runner-ups, two T5's, and one 17th.
Brian Harman has three top-10s in the past five years, and overall, he's played here each of the last eight years and has made the cut in seven of those tries.
It should be no surprise that the native New Englander Keegan Bradley has played well in the only northeastern track annually on the regular season schedule. His runner-up finish last year was his third top-25 in four years, and in nine tries, he's never missed the cut.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.