After the U.S. Open on the West Coast, the PGA TOUR will come back East for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. Unlike last week’s difficult conditions, there should be plenty of low scores this week, since the winner’s score has been 15-under or lower in five of the past seven years.
The field definitely isn’t as strong as last week’s, but there are plenty of big names including five of the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings, led by Dustin Johnson ($11,400), Bryson DeChambeau ($11,100), Brooks Koepka ($10,700), Patrick Cantlay ($10,400) and Patrick Reed ($10,000). South African Garrick Higgo ($7,900) will be playing in his first non-Major in the U.S. since winning the Palmetto Championship two weeks ago, and Johnson will be defending the title he won at this event shortly after the PGA TOUR started back up last summer. Johnson beat Kevin Streelman ($9,400) by one stroke, while Will Gordon ($6,900) charged to a tie for third with Mackenzie Hughes ($7,100).
This event has been held at this course every year since 1984, giving us a long track record to consider. In 2016, Jim Furyk fired a course-record 58, so in the right conditions, players will be able to go extremely low on this track. It’s a par-70 that measures about 6,841 yards, which makes it the second-shortest track in the regular rotation on the PGA TOUR. Due to the lack of length, almost any style of player can win if they get it going.
The percentages of fairways hit and greens-in-regulation are above average for the PGA TOUR, and winners are usually the players who are dialed in on approaches and rolling the ball well on the green. Shots Gained: Approach has been the key metric to focus on along with Par-4 scoring and Bogey Avoidance.
As always, course history is a key factor to consider along with recent form. The difficulty level of last week’s tournament makes it a bit of an outlier, but players who went low at the Palmetto Championship and the Charles Schwab Challenge will look to pick up their birdie-making form and post low scores again this week.
As you assemble your squad for the Travelers Championship, you’ll need to blend some of the stars with some affordable options. Here are my top four plays who come into this week with a salary below $7.5K on DraftKings.
Stewart Cink, $7,300
The 48-year-old veteran has had a great season, picking up a pair of wins at the RBC Heritage and the Safeway Open. The RBC Heritage is played at Harbour Town Golf Links, which features a similar layout to TPC River Highlands and is also designed by renowned course architect Pete Dye. Given his success on similar courses, it isn’t a surprise that he has a good track record here as well. He finished runner-up as recently as 2018 and won back in 2008 and in 1997. In his 17 trips to the event, he has made the cut 13 times (76%) with nine top-25 finishes and six top-10 finishes.
Cink also made the cut last week at Torrey Pines and has played the weekend in seven straight tournaments. His resurgence this season has been mostly due to his success on approach, and he ranks in the top 25 in the PGA TOUR on SG: Approach, which is again the key metric for this week.
Guido Migliozzi, $7,200
Migliozzi was in the hunt coming down the stretch last week at Torrey Pines and finished tied for fourth after firing a 68 in the Final Round. The 24-year-old Italian finished solo-second in back-to-back events in May on the European Tour at the Made in HimmerLand presented by FREJA and the Betfred British Masters. Overall, he has made the cut in nine of his 12 events on the European Tour this season, and also owns a pair of career wins from 2019 before the COVID-19 stoppage.
This will be Migliozzi’s first non-major PGA TOUR event and his first look at TPC River Highlands. However, he does check some of the key statistical boxes since he is gaining 0.50 shots per round on approach in Europe and is in the top 30 on the European Tour in Par 4 scoring and the top 10 in bogey avoidance.
Chez Reavie, $7,000
Like Cink, Reavie is one of the ten previous champions at this tournament scheduled to be in the field. Reavie ran away from the field in 2019 and won by four strokes over Keegan Bradley ($7,900) and Zack Sucher. While that was one of just two career victories for Reavie, it was a continuation of his solid career track record at this venue. In his 10 trips to this event, he has made the cut eight times with three top-25 finishes.
Reavie has had a tough season overall but most of his trouble has come on the greens, where he is -.604 Shots Gained: Putting per round. His approach game has been solid, though, with .512 Shots Gained: Approach per round, and two weeks ago at the Palmetto he snapped a streak of seven straight missed cuts with a T14. He has putted better lately and coming back to these greens could help him fix that element of his game and put him in a place to finish high if he continues his ball-striking success.
Will Gordon, $6,900
Since last year’s T3 at this event, Gordon hasn’t done very much, making the cut in just 15 of his 26 events on the PGA TOUR and not posting another top-10 finish in any of those contests. You may remember Gordon’s hot finish at this event since it earned him special temporary membership on the PGA TOUR just a little more than a year after he was starring for Vanderbilt. He was 23 at the time and playing on a sponsor’s exemption when he finished with a 64 on Sunday to move from 12th up to third.
However, the reason I like Gordon this week is more about his recent performances than just that single round almost a year ago. Before taking last week off, Gordon started the Palmetto Championship with a 68 and finished with the best final round of Sunday with a 64 to surge up into a T14, his best finish since last year’s Travelers Championship. Gordon led the field in that event with a very impressive 2.23 Shots Gained: Approach per round, and he could have finished even higher if his putter hadn’t held him back. His flat-stick has been very streaky, but just a few events ago at the AT&T Byron Nelson he was able to gain .571 Shots Gained: Putting per round. If he can get back to that kind of performance while also continuing his red-hot iron play, he could again be near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) 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.
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