Fantasy Insider: Travelers Championship

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June 21, 2011
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist

Whether you're in a heated battle for your league championship or merely along for the ride for the stretch run, the PGA TOUR has introduced a new game on its Facebook page called "PGA TOUR Matchups" beginning with this week's Travelers Championship. Explained in detail here, the object is simple. Select one golfer in each of five head-to-head matchups. You get two points for every win and one point for a tie. A 5-0 record earns you an additional two points. The game will run through THE TOUR Championship in September. Weekly winners receive a $50 gift card to Shop.PGATOUR.com. The full-season champion will win a $1,500 gift card, also to Shop.PGATOUR.com.

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The PGATOUR.COM staff will publish its picks every week. You can review its choices for the Travelers here. I will do the same in the Fantasy Insider.

Bubba Watson over Jim Furyk

Hunter Mahan over Ben Crane

Aaron Baddeley over Padraig Harrington

Geoff Ogilvy over Lucas Glover

Keegan Bradley over Michael Bradley

With only 32 possible combinations, it's likely that the weekly winners will require the random drawing. The full-season champion might also boil down to a random draw, but the chances of a tie after 13 weeks is minimal. The moral of the story is don't give up. Good luck and have fun!

Meanwhile, the Travelers begins the third and final segment of Yahoo!'s fantasy golf game. To help you prepare, please look for my special feature on Wednesday, June 22.

Power Rankings Plus

11. Ben Curtis ... Superb record here, with five top 25s in six starts, including a pair of T4s. Led the field in greens hit in 2008 and 2009; ranked second in 2010. Currently second on TOUR in GIR and finished T13 at the Memorial three weeks ago.

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  • 12. Spencer Levin ... Developing into a fantasy dynamo. Coming off a T15 in Memphis -- his ninth top 25 of the year -- where he carded a 64 in the final round. Love his aggressive tendencies this week. He's 38th on TOUR in greens hit, 37th in birdie average and 11th in adjusted scoring.

    13. Scott Verplank ... Gamers should always beware of his injured left wrist, but he deserves the nod here based on his record at TPC River Highlands. It includes top 25s in each of his last five appearances dating back to 2001, with top 10s the last two years, including a playoff loss in last year's edition.

    14. Vijay Singh ... After six straight starts, he's had the last two weeks off. That's a first since he returned to TPC River Highlands in 2007. In his four appearances since, he has three top-15 finishes, including a T13 last year.

    15. Tim Herron ... Coming off a T3 in Memphis, his best finish anywhere in nearly four years. He closed with a bogey-free 65 and ranked T11 in greens and T5 in putting for the week. Has six top 20s in 14 starts at the Travelers.

    Power Rankings Distribution for Yahoo! (rank)

    Group A ... Nick Watney (8)

    Group B ... Hunter Mahan (1); Webb Simpson (2); Bo Van Pelt (6); Bubba Watson (7); Ben Curtis (11); Spencer Levin (12); Vijay Singh (14)

    Group C ... Brandt Snedeker (3); Zach Johnson (4); Ryan Moore (5); Brandt Jobe (9); Fredrik Jacobson (10); Scott Verplank (13); Tim Herron (15)

    Dark Horse (Yahoo! Group)

    Padraig Harrington (A) ... Normally, a three-time major champion that finished in a share of fifth place the year before at the event I'm analyzing wouldn't fall into this section, but he's been very hit or miss all year. In his last nine starts worldwide, he's posted three top 10s and missed four cuts. Currently 11th on TOUR in putting, and ranked third in putting at last year's Travelers.

    Aaron Baddeley (C) ... No, he's never cracked the top 60 of four cuts made in six appearances here, but we can't be reminded enough that he's turned a corner with his irons, now ranking 50th in greens hit. And he's still a lofty 23rd in putting. Also seventh in birdie average. The variables suggest for a career-best performance at TPC River Highlands.

    Keegan Bradley (C) ... The native New Englander is only four weeks removed from his breakthrough at the Byron Nelson. He limped home to a T25 at the St. Jude (with a final-round 74) -- his seventh top 25 this season -- after reaching its midpoint in 6-under with only one bogey. He's a first-timer at TPC River Highlands, but three of the last five champions here were first-time winners -- J.J. Henry (2006), Hunter Mahan (2007) and Bubba Watson (2010).

    Carl Pettersson (B) ... Coming off a T8 in Memphis, where he ranked inside the top 20 in all relevant stats. Has made the cut in his last four trips to TPC River Highlands, with a T15 in 2007.

    Kevin Streelman (C) ... He's 3-for-3 here, with a T10 in 2008, but more importantly, he arrives with seven consecutive cuts made, a stretch that includes four top 20s. Ranks 27th on TOUR in putting.

    Chris Riley (B) ... While his T30 in his last start at the Memorial -- where he ranked T4 in greens hit -- is his best finish since a season-opening share of ninth at the Sony Open, he's 7-for-7 at the Travelers with four top 25s, including last year's solo fourth.

    Danger (Yahoo! Group)

    David Toms (B) ... He's made the cut at the Travelers in each of the last four years, with a pair of top 10s, so he enters as an attractive option. However, after a healthy climb all year, he reached the summit by winning at Colonial, but then missed his two cuts since. He hit only half of his fairways at TPC Southwind, a track that he has obliterated over the years, seriously out of character for a guy that currently ranks third on TOUR in driving accuracy.

    Jim Furyk (A) ... After missing the cut at the U.S. Open, has now gone seven consecutive starts without a top 20 for the first time since the second half of the 1998 season. First appearance at TPC River Highlands since 2001.

    Anthony Kim (C) ... He's made the cut in four of his last six starts, but hasn't posted a top 50 in his last eight. Hasn't shot higher than 67 in four rounds at TPC River Highlands, but he hasn't broken par in his last nine loops on par-70 tracks going back to the second round at Colonial.

    Yahoo! lineup
    STARTERS
    Group A: Padraig Harrington
    Group B: Hunter Mahan; Webb Simpson
    Group C: Ryan Moore
    BENCH
    Group A: Nick Watney
    Group B: Bo Van Pelt; Bubba Watson
    Group C: Brandt Snedeker
    Yahoo! Stats
    SEASON: 3,574 points (4,953rd) ... SPRING: 1,678 points (22,223rd)
    ONE-AND-DONE: Hunter Mahan
    2011 earnings: $2,931,275.84
    DUFFER: Craig Bowden
    2011 earnings: $782,733.00

    Lucas Glover (A) ... Since winning at Quail Hollow, his best finish in four starts is a T40 at Colonial. Top 20s in his last two appearances here (2008, 2009), so it's a classic trap. He's also fourth in putting and 14th in birdie average, but hasn't been consistent enough in four consecutive rounds.

    Ben Crane (B) ... An ankle injury forced him to withdraw from the pro-am for the HP Byron Nelson at the end of May, but there's no word if it's still an issue. The results haven't quieted the concern though, as he's still without a top-40 finish since New Orleans six starts ago.

    Stuart Appleby (B) ... Withdrew after one round (78) in Memphis two weeks ago, and had made just one cut in his previous eight starts before that. No top 25s in six attempts at the Travelers dating back to 1996.

    Kevin Chappell (C) ... Not that I'm discounting his chances following a share of third place at the U.S. Open, but temper your expectations. It was an outstanding final 54 holes for the rookie at Congressional, and he's shown several flashes this year, but until he logs a few reps over the years, his value remains highest in long-term formats. And congrats to those of you invested, as he's wedged his way onto your short list of keeper options, especially since he's now eligible for next year's Masters and U.S. Open.

    Medic! (Yahoo! Group)

    J.B. Holmes (C) ... After a two-week break, including an early withdrawal from the FedEx St. Jude Classic due to vertigo, returned to live action at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic in Rhode Island on Monday and Tuesday.

    Paul Goydos (C) ... Just three weeks ago thought that he was going to be out "4-6 weeks" due to a cracked rib, but tweeted the following on June 16: "Practiced the last few days, rib feels much better. Should be ready to play next week in Hartford." Shared second place here in 2009.

    Tommy Gainey (C) ... After eight straight starts, withdrew early from the FedEx St. Jude Classic, citing "soreness in rib area" (per his Twitter page). Arrives at the Travelers fresh after two weeks off.

    Chris Stroud (B) ... Shot 80 in his opening round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, and then withdrew due to a wrist injury.

    Bill Lunde (C) ... Returns since withdrawing prior to his tee time in the second round of the Memorial due to the illness that also bumped Nick Watney and D.J. Trahan from the tournament.

    Fran Quinn (C) ... Withdrew after 27 holes in Memphis two weeks ago due to heat stroke. Lives in Holden, Mass., which is about 90 minutes from TPC River Highlands. Despite an 0-for-4 record at the Travelers (dating back to 1992), he could be a deep sleeper this week given a few sparkles since returning from a fractured vertebra. At best, he's not an automatic fade.

    Notable WDs (Yahoo! Group)

    Tim Clark (B) ... Withdrew on Monday. Hasn't played since withdrawing from THE PLAYERS after 28 holes on May 13 due to the lingering injury to his right elbow.

    Brian Gay (A) ... Made the cut at the U.S. Open for the first time in eight tries, finishing T63.

    Pat Perez (B) ... Hasn't played since the Memorial. Didn't play between the Memorial and the AT&T National last year.

    Garth Mulroy (C) ... This would have been the last start on his Minor Medical Extension. He'll retains the start until his next commitment.

    Rob Bolton is the freelance fantasy columnist for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the PGA TOUR.

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