DraftKings: Who to focus on at TPC River Highlands
June 23, 2020
By Reid Fowler, DraftKings
- June 23, 2020
Daily Fantasy preview for Travelers Championship
Get ready for another stacked field as the PGA TOUR heads north for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut. The top 7 in the world – including new FedExCup points leader Webb Simpson -- are joined by young stars such as Sungjae Im, Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa in the 156-player field.
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TPC River Highlands brings a Pete Dye design into action for the second straight week. It will play as a par 70, measuring 6,841 yards, with poa annua greens. There are seven par 4s measuring between 400 to 450 yards, a par 4 under 300 yards and long par 3s with two (no. 5 and no. 8) that pace off at over 200 yards. In 2019 it ranked as the second shortest in total distance on TOUR behind Pebble Beach. Fitting with the risk/reward dynamic synonymous with Dye, the course yielded the 14th most birdies on TOUR, but also the 10th most bogeys, last season.
TPC River Highlands has bigger greens than last week in Hilton Head, which should translate into a little less chipping and a few more putts from longer distances. The average greens hit in regulation at Travelers is 67 percent, higher than the TOUR average. Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green should be the primary focus again, but not by as large of a margin over the other strokes gained categories like the last two weeks. Players who do well in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, with a slight lean towards accuracy, should be on your radar when choosing golfers this week.
This course has recorded thick rough since 2012, which may be a reason why we see driving accuracy rate out higher here (66.7 percent) over the TOUR average (60.7). The players have historically chosen accuracy over distance on the shorter course but the longer hitters won't shy away from using their power as an advantage. This has been proven with two-time winner Bubba Watson, Bryson DeChambeau and Jason Day, who all rank inside the top 22 in driving distance over the last 50 rounds and inside the top-10 in Strokes Gained: Total here since 2015.
Other than Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and Off-the-Tee, we should also be focusing on golfers who rate out well in par 4 efficiency between 400 to 450 yards as well as those who've historically done well on poa annua greens.
Jon Rahm ($10,200)
The Dye designs around the greens may be getting to Rahm a little more than he's used to, as he ranks 84th in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green over his last two tournaments. Still, Rahm's game off the tee has been stellar, ranking third in the field over his previous eight rounds. He was arguably one of the best golfers before the shutdown, and he looks to be rounding into form, gaining just under three strokes Tee-to-Green last week after missing the cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge. He's played well at similar courses like the Genesis Invitational (Riviera CC) and the Waste Management Phoenix Open (TPC Scottsdale), along with finishing inside the top-12 in Strokes Gained: Putting on poa greens over his last 50 rounds.
Xander Schauffele ($9,600)
Schauffele’s weekend at Harbour Town was quite eventful, carding a 4-over 75 on Saturday when there were only nine rounds over par and 55 rounds under 70 that day. He followed it up with a 66 on Sunday, and even though last week was his worst tournament with the approach game since last July, he still managed to rattle off eight birdies while gaining 1.7 strokes with his irons on Sunday, proving he likely just had an off day/week. Poa greens suit Schauffele's eyes and he should get back to how he played at the Charles Schwab Challenge, where he finished third gaining eight strokes Tee-to-Green.
Dustin Johnson ($9,400)
Johnson still feels underpriced even though he's now fallen outside the top five in world for the first time since 2016. He could easily be in contention here with how well he strikes the ball on any given week. A mediocre Sunday last week saw him finish 17th, his first top-20 since The Genesis Invitational. Johnson historically plays well on Dye courses and ranks second in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. He prefers poa over the other putting surfaces, ranking inside the top 40 over his last 50 rounds.
Corey Conners ($7,500)
Conners is already getting some pre-tournament hype, and rightfully so. He's been tremendous hitting fairways and greens over his last three tournaments so it's no wonder he's finished inside the top-21 the last couple of weeks. If he wants to crack the top-15 or the winner's circle, the focus should be on the greens where he has lost strokes to the field in six of his last seven tournaments. It doesn't look like his stellar Tee-to-Green game is going anywhere and should be a solid play in this price range despite potentially high ownership come Thursday.
Brendan Steele ($6,600)
He's missed four of his last five cuts, so this is more of a punt/tournament play if you're planning on rostering two golfers in the $10,000-plus range. Steele is one of the longer hitters on TOUR and has played well on Dye courses, ranking 39th in Strokes Gained: tee-to-Green and eighth in fairways over his last dozen or so tournaments. Steele lost three strokes Tee-to-Green at the Charles Schwab Challenge and skipped last week, hopefully taking some time off to work out the kinks and get back to the golf he was playing when he finished fourth at The Honda Classic.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is reidtfowler) 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.