Boy, what a U.S. Open we just had.
But just like the PGA Tour calendar, the PGA DFS calendar rolls on without much hesitation. This week, we're heading to TPC River Highlands for the Travelers Championship.
How different is the setup and requirement for this week's test than we had last week?
Let's dig into the course, the key stats, the win simulations, and the best bets of the week.
You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.
Course Information and Key Stats
Golfers With Great Course History
Daily Fantasy Picks
TPC River Highlands Course Info & Key Stats
Distance: 6,852 (short: ~370 yards shorter than the average par 70)
Fairway Acres/Yard: 3.8 (average: PGA average is 4.1)
Average Green Size: 5,000 square feet (small: 85% of PGA average)
Green Type: Bentgrass/Poa
Past 5 Winning Scores (Event): -13, -19, -17, -17, -12
Past 5 Cut Lines (Event): -2, -4, -2, -2, E
Key Stats (in Order of Importance): Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (emphasis on Driving Accuracy), Strokes Gained: Putting, Birdie or Better Rate
A quick note on iron play: it matters less here than your average PGA Tour stop, but it still matters a lot. I'll de-emphasize it a bit, but it's still the most important strokes gained stat of the week regardless.
Despite average-width fairways, missing fairways is penal at TPC River Highlands, according to datagolf, and with an overall empahsis on strokes gained: off the tee at this event historically, we should put some weight in golfers who won't get in trouble off the tee. That can mean accuracy, yes, but it's also important to gain strokes on the field from the teebox.
We also see a decently big importance on strokes gained: putting at this course, historically, meaning it's about driver, irons, and putter this week.
As far as scoring goes, three of the past five winners have been at least 17-under par; two of those won by at least three strokes. So, we're probably looking at the -15 range for the winner, meaning we need birdies.
Golfers With Great Course/Event History
The best golfers at TPC River Highlands among those in the field with at least eight rounds (via datagolf) are Rory McIlroy (+1.93), Jason Day (+1.50), Brendan Steele (+1.39), Xander Schauffele (+1.38), Kramer Hickok (+1.34), Sam Burns (+1.33), Patrick Cantlay (+1.31), Charley Hoffman (+1.30), Brooks Koepka (+1.21), Marc Leishman (+1.20), Brian Harman (+1.19), Hank Lebioda (+1.17), Kevin Streelman (+1.13), Doc Redman (+1.05), and Joaquin Niemann (+1.00).
Win Simulations for the Travelers Championship
Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their golf betting odds this week.
Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets for the Travelers Championship
The best values in the model this week are Patrick Cantlay (+1400) and Sungjae Im (+3200) with Webb Simpson (+6500) and Harold Varner (+6500) relevant longer shots.
Overall, the top seven in the win simulations are largely fair game, and the top 10 golfers in the model comprise a 49.5% win probability. It's a pretty solid week to bet the favorites.
My favorite plays of the week are Cantlay and Spieth at the top of the board with Im, Varner, Harris English, Mito Pereira, and Si Woo Kim guys I'm eying for top-10s and top-20s.
Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the Travelers Championship
All stats cited below originate at FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the past calendar year and is adjusted based on my field strength and recency tweaks. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. All ranks and percentile ranks are among the field. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.
Best of the Best
Patrick Cantlay (FanDuel Salary: $11,600 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +1400) - Cantlay is set up well for a good week at TPC River Highlands. He's a better golfer at easy setups than he is at tough ones, and even with that, he climbed his way to a T14 at the U.S. Open last week. Cantlay has reeled off four straight top-15 results at this course and gained in all three tee-to-green stats in all four. Some poor major results (other than the T14 at the U.S. Open, he was cut at the PGA Championship and T39 at the Masters) should be enough to get people off of him enough to make him a priority this week.
Jordan Spieth($11,400 | +2200) - A former winner at TPC River Highlands, Speith should be positioned well this week. He finished T37 at the U.S. Open last week, so he played well enough but wasn't grinding mentally for positioning. Spieth isn't accurate, of course, but is still gaining strokes off the tee over the past year (90th percentile in my data). What's more: his putting on Bermuda has been pretty bad lately. On bentgrass and poa (which is what we get this week), it's been better. With some putting regression expected, there's enough here for Spieth to be a key pick.
Others to Consider:
Justin Thomas ($11,800 | +1100) - Should be the most overlooked of the top trio (JT, Rory, Scheffler) but has all the tools to thrive here.
Sungjae Im ($11,000 | +3200) - Missed the cut on the number at U.S. Open; has accuracy, irons, and putting to go deep this week.
Mito Pereira ($10,200 | +4600) - Good across the board and a good birdie maker.
Brian Harman ($10,100 | +5000) - Harman is one of the course history standouts for the week and had a good start to the U.S. Open, as well. Harman's finishes since 2015 read: 3rd, cut, 35th, 6th, 8th, cut, 5th. We'll take that. Harman also makes sense as a course fit because he's accurate (86th percentile) with a good short game (88th percentile) while being a slight plus off the tee. He's also one of the best long-term putters in the field and should experience putting regression in his favor soon.
Maverick McNealy ($9,400 | +8000) - McNealy has combined bentgrass and poa putting splits that rank him in the 93rd percentile over the past 50 rounds and projects as a plus long-term putter due to his distance splits. He's more of a birdie-maker (93rd percentile) than bogey avoider (34th percentile), as well.
Others to Consider:
Harold Varner ($9,900 | +6500) - Statistically, hits upside thresholds at highest rate of anyone in the $9,000 range.
Si Woo Kim ($9,600 | +7500) - Weak putter (16th-percentile long-term, 17th-percentile in expectation) but should hit greens in reg.
Aaron Rai ($9,200 | +10000) - Accurate (91st percentile) and due for putting regression as a stellar short-range putter (85th percentile).
Harris English ($8,900 | +12000) - English had a layoff from mid-January to early June, and in his two starts since then, he was cut at the Memorial and then T61 at the U.S. Open. He was one of the worst putters in the field last week but gained strokes with his irons and wedges. That'll help us buy into English again. Without a ton of great value, I'd rather take a shot on English returning to form than the peak of what some other options can offer us.
Brendon Todd ($9,000 | +7500) - We have to pick and choose where we roster Todd, who is the shortest driver in the field -- but the most accurate. The super short TPC River Highlands, then, keeps him relevant. Todd has finished 11th and 30th here the past two years with good ball-striking numbers. Notably, he gained strokes off the tee, which is uncommon for him (11th percentile long term) because of how the course plays. An elite putter, Todd shouldn't be discounted this week due to his lack of distance.
Others to Consider:
Tom Hoge ($8,800 | +12000) - The irons abandoned him last week at Brookline, but this test is much easier. Accurate, too.
Lanto Griffin ($8,400 | +16000) - Main blemish is wedge play, which we can discount a bit this week; good on poa/bentgrass.
Austin Smotherman ($7,800 | +28000) - Six straight made cuts, elite ball-striking, and expected putting regression: great value combo.