A belated Happy Father's Day to all dads in our community. Since last week's Fantasy Insider, a special project on which I had worked during the hiatus published. It reviewed the theory of the Diaper Dimension, which is the American translation for a 25-year-old English phrase associating success in sport and in life to becoming a father.
The story includes quotes from an interview with Keith Elliott, its inventor. Keith is almost 80 years young, emphasis on young. He's full of life and spirit. Connecting with him to discuss the Diaper Dimension was on my career bucket list. It wouldn't have been possible without our mutual friend, Dave Tindall, who you probably know as a golf tout in England. Dave originally introduced the theory to me more than 10 years ago. We wound up working together for a short time when I was at Rotoworld and wanted to add European Tour coverage.
While Bryson DeChambeau's observation on the fatherhood bump with Andrew Landry caught the attention of many in the story, the cool factor of listening to Keith talk about John Lennon – and as Keith referencing the former Beatle only as "Lennon" – wasn't lost on me in real time as Keith peered at the cityscape of Liverpool during the call. Come to find out later that Keith's second son, Martin, was born on the same day that Lennon was killed.
If you've never tapped into Elliott's work, you're missing out. So much of it has an elegance to it, but the more you learn, the greater you realize that it's not so much the observations and research that comprises the simple genius, it's how Elliott presents it. For a guy like me who has no qualms about getting wonky as it concerns PGA TOUR membership provisions, field construction and the like, I have an intense appreciation for Elliott's communicative style.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg also contributed to the story. His take on why fatherhood is beneficial to the touring professional could apply also to Elliott's ability to convey a powerful message without blowing you away with complicated language.
"When winning is not as important to you, you're more likely to win," Steinberg said. "That's the irony of it all. You're not trying as hard. I call it, 'try easy.' The idea is that you're still trying but you're not giving it 100 percent."
Relatable stuff, all of it.
Believe it or not, this week's Travelers Championship is the first open since The Honda Classic. It's also the first 156-man field since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am where Nick Taylor prevailed. (Incidentally, Taylor, who garnered attention for the Diaper Dimension story, is planning to return to action at the consecutive events at Muirfield Village in July.) Of the 156 in play at TPC River Highlands, 91 (or 58.33 percent) played in both of the first two tournaments of the restart.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the Travelers Championship (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Bryson DeChambeau; Rory McIlroy; Patrick Reed; Justin Rose; Xander Schauffele; Scottie Scheffler; Webb Simpson; Jordan Spieth
Driving: Corey Conners; Bryson DeChambeau; Viktor Hovland; Dustin Johnson; Jon Rahm; Scottie Scheffler; Jhonattan Vegas; Gary Woodland
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Jordan Spieth … This is about right, isn’t it? He was upended by a third-round 75 at Harbour Town, but he's missed only one cut since last year's Travelers. Won in his debut here in 2017. He's probably too pricy in DFS, but hopes remain high for something special. Consider him as a contrarian with a greater upside than usual.
Dustin Johnson … So much for the rust. That's gone. He led the field at Harbour Town in total driving and par-5 scoring. Also ranked T10 in greens hit and T17 in proximity en route to a T17 (in which he scored no higher than 68 in any round). Hasn't appeared at TPC River Highlands since 2014, but count on the carryover effect now that he's reconnected with the strength of his game.
Xander Schauffele … His class is permanent and he's always struggled at Harbour Town (T64 last week), so we should remain optimistic on the upswing at TPC River Highlands where he finished T14 in his debut in 2017. Let's also not forget that he also just missed joining the playoff at Colonial two weeks ago.
Patrick Reed … Lesson learned. I forced him at Harbour Town where irons mattered more than his touch around the greens. Regrouping, he can spray it more this week and still make noise. He's been a fixture at the tournament since 2012 and has risen for a T5 (2017) among three top 20s.
Sergio Garcia … It's been five years since he last showed at TPC River Highlands, but he sat inside the top 10 entering the final round and finished T25 in 2015. Also shared runner-up honors the year prior, so he probably misses the place on some level. Last week at Harbour Town, he emerged with a T5 while pacing the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and par breakers.
Brandt Snedeker … Bounce candidate. He shed the rust at Harbour Town last week and missed the cut by six, but you have to love him on Poa greens at TPC River Highlands. Four of his six cuts made in eight trips resulted in a top 25.
Gary Woodland … He's 3-for-4 with a T20 and a scoring average of 68.92 at TPC River Highlands, but he hasn't appeared in four years. Still, as long as he keeps making cuts, you're aboard for whatever bonus the weekend yields.
Keegan Bradley … Since breaking onto the PGA TOUR in 2011, he hasn't missed an edition … or a cut. He's scattered four top 25s, including a personal-best T2 last year. His scoring average in 36 competitive rounds is a sporty 68.39. It's a virtual home game for the Vermont native, too.
Ryan Moore … But you might want to hold your breath. Since a T2 in his Travelers debut in 2006, he's 10-for-12 with a pair of T2s among five top 10s and eight top 20s. However, he's restarted the season with a pair of missed cuts, albeit not on sites that have treated him as kindly.
Brendan Steele … Course-history buffs might as well take a flier despite his inconsistent form over most of the last two years. Since 2011, all seven of his paydays at TPC River Highlands are top 25s.
Jhonattan Vegas … Tasty DFS option. Despite a pedestrian record at TPC River Highlands (3-for-6 without a top 30), the course caters to his tee-to-green confidence. And now he's coming off a good week with the putter that spearheaded a T17 at Harbour Town, a course that doesn't fit his firepower on paper.
Chez Reavie … As the defending champion, he'll be over-owned by casual gamers and course-history buffs. Because he's not riding one of his patented heaters, and because he's best used as a reliable complement in full-season formats, you can get away easily with the no-play, and especially in this historically deep field.
Jason Day … Course success didn't matter last week, so it shouldn't matter this week, especially amid a tailspin. He's gone four consecutive starts without a payday. It's the first time that's happened since his rookie season of 2008.
Ryan Palmer … Detailed in this space over time, and as he reiterated en route to a T8 at the RBC Heritage, he goes as his driver goes. Confidence is everything, but the data doesn't necessarily match the rhetoric. Yes, he ranked fifth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green at Harbour Town, but also was perfect on 61 looks from six feet and in, 23 of which were from outside three feet. So, while his game off the tee almost always explains why he's playing well, it's his putting that got the job done last week. Furthermore, he's appeared only twice in the last 10 editions of the Travelers Championship. He finished T53 in 2017 and missed the cut by 11 shots in 2018.
Phil Mickelson … Missed the cut at Colonial in what was his last start as a 40something. Now he takes on TPC River Highlands for his first event as a senior. Returned to TPC River Highlands last year after a 15-year hiatus and missed the cut. Save that T3-3rd fortnight worldwide in early February, he's lacked the kind of consistently strong form that helped us forget about the occasional hiccups throughout his career.
Kevin Streelman … I can only LOL. Gamers who have been at this long enough understand Kryptonite. He's my version in 2020, and it's not the first time I've confessed to it. It's my duty to share because all things fantasy are relative and contextual. He won the Travelers in 2014 and has four other top 15s, including a T15 last year, but he has zagged before and after the hiatus when conventional wisdom and the analytics have projected the opposite. Bottom line, he must be used at least fractionally in DFS. Yep, hedging.
Lucas Glover … Despite top 25s the last two weeks, he's just 1-for-6 at TPC River Highlands with a T47 (2012) and only three red numbers since 2011.
Russell Knox … It's a strange experience digesting his recent form. He's missed six consecutive cuts, including both post-hiatus. He hadn't connected missed cuts in individual competition in three years. So, even though he won the Travelers in 2016 and has followed with three paydays in as many return trips, including a T21 last year, the absence of his usual balanced attack is concerning if not alarming.
Charley Hoffman … Reopening 0-for-2 extends his steady decline of the last year. It started right around when he missed the cut the Travelers after eight consecutive paydays in the tournament with a trio of top 10s contributing.
Matthew Wolff … He's been a default fade since competition resumed and he's now gone six consecutive starts without a top 50. He's hardly a cautionary tale; rather, he's a recent reminder that the learning curve doesn't discriminate. Just allow him to figure out what it's like to be a touring professional and determine which courses suit him best.
Kevin Na … Given visual evidence that he wasn't 100 percent at Colonial and his early WD from Harbour Town, we're reminded of his value in long-term formats. Sit this one out.
Byeong Hun An
Rafa Cabrera Bello
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Jim Knous … Committed to the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank on the Korn Ferry Tour. The Colorado native has been sidelined for exactly one year. In mid-August, he had surgery on his right wrist. When he gets back to the PGA TOUR, he'll have six starts on a medical extension in the KFT graduate reshuffle category to collect 152.463 FedExCup points for a promotion to the Major Medical category. He's only 64.916 FedExCup points shy of locking up conditional status as a safety net.
Daniel Berger … While he's off to the best of restarts, it's easy to overlook that he's rattled off five top 10s in a row dating back to February.
Cameron Champ … It was announced on Tuesday, that he's tested positive for COVID-19. He's the second PGA TOUR member to test positive. After contracting the virus, Nick Watney withdrew before his second round of last week's RBC Heritage.
Chesson Hadley … Reopened by going T23-T58 to rise to 117th in the FedExCup. Given that he's 0-for-4 at the Travelers, it's a well-timed break in advance of what figures to be a busy summer.
Nate Lashley … He missed the cut in both of the first two events back and he's defending his lone TOUR title at next week's Rocket Mortgage Classic. Played through a sore wrist early this year, but the hiatus would've given it time to heal and recover from any focused treatment.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – RBC HERITAGE
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Bryson DeChambeau T8
2 Webb Simpson Win
3 Justin Thomas T8
4 Xander Schauffele T64
5 Patrick Reed MC
6 Collin Morikawa T64
7 Rory McIlroy T41
8 Justin Rose T14
9 Ian Poulter T14
10 Matt Kuchar T41
11 Kevin Kisner MC
12 Sungjae Im MC
13 Daniel Berger T3
14 Jon Rahm T33
15 Rory Sabbatini T21
Wild Card Hideki Matsuyama MC
SLEEPERS RECAP – RBC HERITAGE
Bud Cauley MC
Luke List MC
Ted Potter, Jr. MC
Kevin Streelman MC
Brian Stuard T52
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE GOLFERS ON THE PGA TOUR
June 23 … Roberto Castro (35)
June 24 … none
June 25 … John Rollins (45)
June 26 … none
June 27 … none
June 28 … Si Woo Kim (25)
June 29 … Anirban Lahiri (33)