The Cheat Sheet provides DraftKings fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
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The field for this year’s Travelers will include 156 golfers, making it a full-field event. Last year, it was played around the same time of the year, but this season has it back on its regular place in the schedule falling right after the U.S. Open. This is one of the more well-respected events on TOUR, and it tends to rank highly among the players. The positive reviews mean we again have a very deep field, with 24 of the top 50 players in the world in attendance. Leading the field will be OWGR No. 2 player in the world (and defending champion) Dustin Johnson, who lost his No. 1 ranking last week to Jon Rahm. Sixth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau will also be in attendance, as will the seventh, eighth and ninth-ranked players in Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed, respectively.
Some players to note from last week who will be making the trek out East include surprise top-5 U.S. Open finisher Guido Migliozzi, along with Matthew Wolff, who returned to action last week after a long hiatus and finished T15. The cut this week will also go back to its normal positioning (top 65 and ties make the weekend). For DraftKings purposes, getting 6/6 players through the cut should again prove difficult given the size of the field.
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TPC River Highlands—Cromwell, Connecticut
Par 70, 6,841 yards; Greens: Bentgrass/Poa
TPC River Highlands is a short par 70, featuring smaller bentgrass/poa greens and an eclectic blend of holes — it’s also the place where Jim Furyk had one of the greatest rounds of fantasy golf ever when he shot 58 on Sunday in 2016. Last year, this venue was ranked just 32nd in terms of toughness (out of 41 ranked venues) and yielded a 68.626 scoring average. With few changes to the course and another nice summer date, another low scoring event should be expected.
There are only two par 5’s on the course, but one of them is the extremely reachable 523-yard 13th hole, which should yield a high number of birdies and eagles for the week. And while the course only has two par 5’s, it also features two very drivable par 4’s — one of which is the under 300-yard 15th hole, which tends to produce a lot of drama late on Sunday. There are eight par 4’s that measure in between 400-450 yards, making distance off the tee less of an issue, but placement and short approaches more vital.
The course itself was originally designed back in 1928, but it was reworked by perennial PGA course designer Pete Dye in 1982. And while the course isn’t an original Dye, it still lines up nicely with many of his other venues, mainly because it challenges players with several tougher approach shots, many of which are guarded by water — something that comes into play heavily down the stretch. The course has seen all types of players win here; big hitters like Bubba Watson and Marc Leishman have prospered at this event while several shorter hitters like Kevin Streelman, Chez Reavie and Jordan Spieth have also found success at these grounds.
In general, Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Putting have been the most important metrics to target here. Of the past five winners at TPC River Highlands, only one (Spieth 2017) has failed to gained over +5.0 strokes on approach in the week of his win. The green complexes around this venue tend to be tough, and scrambling percentages tend to be lower than normal, so good short-game play can also be weighted here. It’s a venue where being great off the tee will only get you so far and being sharp with your scoring clubs (short irons, wedges and putter) is a necessity.
2021 Weather Outlook: We’re into the true beginning of summer this week, so don’t expect a ton of gloomy forecasts (at least until we get to The Open in July). The weather here looks mostly like a non-issue with sunny skies and winds under 10mph forecast for the first two days. There is almost no chance of precipitation either, and perhaps that will keep the course firm and make it play slightly tougher, overall. The wind does pick up on the weekend, though, with gusts in the 10-15 mph range, and we could see some rain during Sunday’s final round. For classic contests, the weather is a non-factor. For showdown and weekend DFS play, it may be worth looking at since early starters could hold an advantage if the weekend wind forecast holds as is.
Last 5 winners
2020 – Dustin Johnson -19 (over Kevin Streelman -18)
2019 – Chez Reavie -17 (over Keegan Bradley and Zack Sucher -13)
2018 – Bubba Watson -17 (over Paul Casey -14)
2017 – Jordan Spieth -12 (over Daniel Berger playoff)
2016 – Russell Knox -14 (over Jerry Kelly -13)
- Four of the last eight winners of this event were coming into the week off of missed cuts in their previous start.
- Six of the last seven winners of this event had posted at least a T31 at TPC River Highlands prior to winning.
- The last three times this event was played after the U.S. Open (2017-Spieth, 2018-Watson, 2019-Reavie), the winner here was a player who had participated in the U.S. Open the week before.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2020 Winner: Dustin Johnson (19-under par)
2020 lead-in form (T17-MC-T48-T10-T42)
· Dustin Johnson used a pretty familiar formula last year to take home the win. He didn’t do anything impressive off the tee (and actually had a poor driving week for him) but ranked sixth in SG: Approach stats for the week and fourth in SG: Putting stats.
· 2019 Champion Chez Reavie used a very similar formula when he ranked first in Approach stats and was top 10 in SG: Putting, as well.
· The venue doesn’t feature a ton of long par 4’s and has easy-to-hit fairways, which really takes a lot of stress off player off the tee. Even the shorter players don’t have to worry about being overly accurate here, so efficiency with irons on the holes under 450 yards is crucial.
· Scrambling tends to be the other area to watch since the greens complexes here are tricky and tend to produce poor up and down percentages. Of the top-10 finishers here last season, only one lost strokes Around the Greens to the field for the week.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
Brian Harman +2500 and $8,800
Keegan Bradley +5000 and $7,900
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Bubba Watson ($8,900; best finishes: win- 2010, 2015, 2018): Bubba loves the Travelers and, more specifically, he loves TPC River Highlands. Since 2008, he has accumulated six finishes of T6 or better, including wins in 2010, 2015 and 2018. He has missed the cut here twice in the last four years, but his upside remains elite.
2. Paul Casey ($9,900; best finishes: T5-2019, T2-2018, second-2015): Casey has been the hard-luck loser at this event twice, losing out to Watson in both 2015 and 2018. Though, he leads the field in SG: Total at this event over the past five seasons and has four top-5 finishes over his last six appearances here. Coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes (at major championships), a breakthrough win this year wouldn’t be shocking.
3. Bryson DeChambeau ($11,100; best finishes: T6-2020, T8-2019): DeChambeau has posted strong results at this venue despite it playing as one of the shorter courses on TOUR. The bomber has three straight top-10 finishes at this venue and is second in SG: Total stats here over the past five years. He’s never missed a cut at this venue in five appearances and sets up as a good bounce-back candidate after a tough Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Open.
4. Keegan Bradley ($7,900; best finishes: T2—2019, T8-2017): Bradley made a run at the title here in 2019, ultimately falling short to Chez Reavie to finish as runner-up. The native New Englander has only missed the cut at this event once (last year) in 10 overall appearances. He sets up as a good value target this week, given the strong course history.
5. Kevin Streelman ($9,400; best finishes: win-2014, second-2020): Streelman is the prototypical type of veteran player who has thrived at this event over the years. He’s not a long hitter, but he is fourth in SG: Total stats at this venue over the past five years and a former winner of this event. His DFS price is inflated this week due to two top-15 finishes at majors this year, but he is a great blend of recent form and course history.
1. Scottie Scheffler ($9,600; T7-third): Scheffler has now finished inside the top 10 in three of his last four starts, two of which have been majors. He’s gaining big strokes putting and on approach weekly, making him a prime candidate for a breakout win this week.
2. Patrick Cantlay ($10,400; T15-win): Cantlay managed a T15 at the U.S. Open last week, which was an improvement on his T23 at the PGA Championship last month. Add in a win at the Memorial two weeks ago, and he’s one of the more locked-in players on TOUR at the moment.
3. Paul Casey ($9,900; T7-T4): Casey has finished within the top 10 in three straight starts. He sandwiched a T6 over in Europe between multiple good major championship starts and gained over +4.0 strokes ATG and on Approach last week.
4. Harris English ($8,200; second-T14): English enters this week having made the cut in eight of his last nine starts. He grabbed a third-place finish at Torrey Pines last week and had his best week ball-striking (+4.6 strokes on approach) in quite some time.
5. Doc Redman ($7,600; T2-T42): Redman was catching fire before the U.S. Open — an event he missed out on. He finished T2 at the Palmetto Championship and has made the cut in five of his last six starts, two of which have produced top-10 finishes.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Casey and Scheffler good anchors
There’s little more that needs to be said about Paul Casey ($9,900) this week since he has a perfect blend of course history and recent form and remains affordable at under $10K. Scottie Scheffler ($9,600) certainly like he’s a good target in the $9K range for core lineups, too, having found another gear of late with his irons and on the greens. Scheffler has gained over +3.5 strokes with his irons his last two starts and looks primed for a breakthrough win sometime soon. In the $8K range, Russell Henley ($8,300 — see below) can be volatile but sets up perfectly for this course, and the course history of Keegan Bradley ($7,900) can likely be trusted here, as well. Bradley also has just one MC in his last 10 starts, making him a good 50-50 target. Other potential core plays here include the likes of Abraham Ancer ($9,100) and Kyle Stanley ($7,000).
Tournaments: Wolff the Wildcard worth targeting
Matthew Wolff ($9,300) made some noise in his return last week, finishing T15, and he was around the lead for much of the first two rounds at Torrey Pines. His confidence should be growing after that outing, and his superb iron play could be enough to grab him another big week here at what could be very low ownership in the GPPs. Joaquin Niemann ($9,000) has also been stagnant of late, but he gained over +3.0 strokes with his irons at Torrey and has a good track record at this course, including a T5 from 2019. He’s a potential pop-target here, as well. Other GPP targets for this week include the likes of Aaron Wise ($7,400), Patrick Rodgers ($6,900), Satoshi Kodaira ($6,500) and Luke Donald ($6,400 — see below).
MY PICK: Russell Henley ($8,300)
Henley has been a spike player in DFS over the past year or so, mixing monster weeks with huge letdowns. He certainly performed well in the U.S. Open despite a final round 76, which saw him drop back to T13. The fact Henley was even competing at the 7,600-plus yards Torrey Pines is a great sign his game in good shape right now since he’s one of the shorter hitters off the tee on TOUR. Where he does excel, though, is on approach — specifically with his short irons, where he’s ranked first in proximity from 125-150 yards.
With seven par 4’s that measure in under 450 yards, the course definitely plays into Henley’s strengths, and he’s flashed at River Highlands before. Henley went off in the final group here in 2018 (T6) and actually held the lead late on Sunday in 2016 (T11) before imploding with his putter. The former Georgia Bulldog has been close in a bunch of events since mid-2020, posting seven top-10 finishes in 26 starts and ranking first in this rather elite field in SG: Approach stats. He’s overdo for a breakthrough, and with a favorable venue on tap, I like backing him in both DFS and in the outright department where his +5500 odds on DraftKings Sportsbook are more than palatable.
MY SLEEPER: Luke Donald ($6,400)
Donald has been playing some pretty inspired golf over his last few starts, and he’s worth noting here given his near minimum-price salary. The 43-year-old has managed to make the cut now in three of his last four starts, and he’s started to find a consistency level with his approach shots that has allowed him to be somewhat competitive again on TOUR. Over his last four starts alone, the former No. 1 player in the world has gained at least +1.4 strokes on approach against the field and has +10.6 strokes on approach in his last two starts combined.
Donald clearly needs his irons to be firing, given his limitations off the tee — where he’s lost strokes in every start in 2021. But with TPC River Highlands being one of the least demanding venues on TOUR (from an Off the Tee perspective), you have to like Donald’s chances of potentially putting up another decent week. He’s also gained strokes putting in three straight events and put up a T7 at this event as recently as 2015 — it’s clearly one that plays to his strengths. If you’re looking for a cheap target in GPP lineups this week, fire up the Don here at a course that has produced some veteran magic in the past.
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