PGATOUR.COM fantasy columnist Rob Bolton lists five against-the-grain selections for this week's Travelers Championship.
Brian Harman ... Back to avenge failing to convert a one-stroke, 54-hole lead a year ago into victory at TPC River Highlands. Another lefty (Bubba Watson) clipped this lefty by one even though Harman closed birdie-birdie for a 1-under 69. He’s 5-for-5 at the TPC River Highlands, which is where he made his PGA TOUR debut as an amateur in 2004. Enters having connected cuts made in his last five starts, three going for a top 25. Polished off a T23 at Glen Abbey with a field-low-tying 63 before having the week off. Currently eighth on TOUR in strokes gained: putting and 25th in birdies-or-better conversion percentage.
Steve Wheatcroft … Not long after he sent his escape from a greenside bunker into the pond guarding the 72nd hole at the RBC Canadian Open where the 38-year-old would walk off with bogey-6 (after two eagles on the hole previously in the tournament) and lose by two strokes, he poked fun at the untimely miscue on Twitter with a rhetorical crack asking followers if they knew if sand was on sale at a home-improvement store. Endearing levity aside, the resulting T5 was his second such finish in three starts, the pair sandwiching a T20 in Alabama. On its own, his record at TPC River Highlands projects a halt to the enjoyable run, but nothing is going to interfere with his positive attitude.
Michael Thompson … While he’s 0-for-4 since a solo fourth here in 2011, his profile has always been that of a guy who establishes and rides a groove, even as briefly as a meteor across the sky. That’s almost always the case with guys best known as finding fire with the putter amid statistical inconsistency. In his last two starts, he’s finished T4 (Barbasol) and T14 (Canada) despite ranking a respective 39th and 58th in strokes gained: putting. Overall, he’s just 141st on TOUR in the measurement. Now consider that he’s 13th in conversation percentage while standing over par breakers. That quantifiable confidence is enhanced by sitting inside the top third on TOUR in greens hit and T13 in proximity to the hole. Sure it’s been five years since he concluded that solo fourth at TPC River Highlands with a career-low 62, but if he was going to threaten it again, it might as well be on the same track and as he arrives feeling pretty good.
Stuart Appleby … Gained entry via Monday’s open qualifier at Ellington Ridge Country Club northeast of Hartford. The 45-year-old Aussie survived a 7-for-2 playoff to boot. He exhausted status via a Major Medical Extension two weeks ago in Canada and is now relegated to conditional status for the remainder of the season. Positioned 145th in FedExCup points, his success in picking up an unexpected start at TPC River Highlands is opportune in that he’s finished no worse than T18 (twice) in his last three visits with a T9 in between in 2013. The glory days are gone but there’s still some fight in this horse. Most notable of late, placed T11 at the Barbasol Championship.
Brendon de Jonge … Once upon a time, he was a redundant poster boy for this page due to an impressive cuts-made percentage sans a PGA TOUR title. He’d also have been an automatic to represent Zimbabwe in next week’s Olympics for which he did automatically qualify, but a uncharacteristically poor season has not only distanced himself from consideration as a potential contender in almost every given week, but the 36-year-old declined the berth into the Rio games to focus on retaining his PGA TOUR card. Just 150th in the FedExCup standings and 159th in earnings, the veteran endured a stretch this year of 19 consecutive starts without a top-50 finish among just the four times he made a cut. He’s since scratched back with a season-best T11 in Alabama and T26 in Canada. Making his ninth trip to Connecticut where he’s recorded a pair of top 10s (in 2010 and 2012).