With the U.S. Open in our rearview mirror, we head to TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, for the Travelers Championship. The course is short — nearly 1,000 yards shorter than Erin Hills, in fact — and scores could go low: Last year, it yielded the first ever round of 58 on the PGA Tour, and 10 golfers finished the week at 10-under or better. Over the last three years, the winner has averaged a score of 15-under par at this Par 70 layout, and nobody shooting even par has made the cut. Bubba Watson has won twice here since 2010, but Russell Knox held off Jerry Kelly for the win here last year, and even the Duke — Ken Duke — won in 2013, proving heavy hitters and accuracy players can both have success at this short track.
A Metric To Remember
Per our Trends tool, the golfers ranked inside the top 10 percent of players for Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score) have been incredibly valuable and consistent when playing at TPC River Highlands: The 92 historical golfers that fit this trend have generated a large +8.15 Plus/Minus with incredible 69.6 percent Consistency. Importantly, their ownership has been fairly reasonable, coming in at just a bit over 10 percent. Weighting our signature metric in your Player Models this week is likely a very sharp way of analyzing players.
The 221 golfers ranked inside the top 25 percent for LT Adj Rd Score have been steady: A +4.06 Plus/Minus with 57.9 percent Consistency. The 131 golfers in the 50th to 75th percentile haven’t done nearly as well (-0.71 Plus/Minus), and those ranked outside of the top 50 percent (83 golfers) have been disgustingly awful (-8.94 Plus/Minus). Again: Long-Term Adjusted Round is an important metric.
Jordan Spieth currently has the highest Vegas odds to win (10.o percent) the tournament despite the fact he will be making his debut at TPC River Highlands this week. Spieth’s 68.2 LT Adj Rd Score ranks third, and his 15.7 LT Adjusted Birdies Per Tournament (Adj Bird Avg) is second in this week’s impressive field, which is highlighted by five of the world’s top-15 ranked golfers.
Spieth, unlike many of the top-ranked golfers, made the cut at the U.S. Open and finished 35th, thanks to a final round 69 on Sunday. Prior to that, Spieth had two consecutive top-15 finishes, including a near miss at the DEAN and DELUCA Invitational, where he finished T2 — just one shot back of the winner, Kevin Kisner.
World No. 2
Another elite golfer makes his Travelers’ debut this week: Rory McIlroy, who checks in with the second-best Vegas odds to win. McIlroy has played in just three tournaments since April because of injuries; he looked sloppy in his return at the U.S. Open, where he shot an opening round 78. That said, Rory did sharpen up coming down the stretch when he birdied four of his final six holes. Despite missing the cut last week, it’s likely Rory will command ownership above 20 percent in this field; we currently have him projected at 26 to 30 percent. Pro Subscribers will be able to review just how chalky Rory is across tournaments of various stakes in our DFS Ownership Dashboard shortly after contests lock.
McIlroy’s 67.8 LT Adj Rd Score and 16.9 LT Adj Bird Avg both lead this field. Rory’s 306.2-yard LT Driving Distance ranks 10th, and he is tied for third with a 69.7 LT Greens in Regulation (GIR) percentage.
The Bump and Run
Choke up and take a narrow stance.
Marc Leishman: Leishman finished 27th at last week’s U.S. Open after failing to get anything going over the weekend. He’s been very good here in the past, making the cut for five straight years with a win, a ninth-place finish, and an 11th-place finish on his resume during that stretch. Leishman is tied for sixth with his 69.0 LT Adj Rd Score and has two top-15 finishes in his last four starts.
Brendan Steele: Steele has looked impressive in loaded fields recently, finishing in sixth place at THE PLAYERS Championship and 13th at the U.S. Open. This week, he’ll get to face a much less impressive field on a course where he has four straight top-25 finishes. Steele is tied for second with his 67.9 Recent Adj Rd Score and leads the field with his gargantuan 18.3 Recent Adj Bird Avg.
Charley Hoffman: Unlike Leishman, Hoffman made a weekend charge at the U.S. Open, finishing in eighth place. Hoffman is tied for 18th with his 69.4 LT Adj Rd Score, tied for seventh with his impressive 68.3 Recent Adj Rd Score, and tied for sixth with his 15.0 Recent Adj Bird Avg. Additionally, Charley has two top-10 finishes at this event in his last four trips, and he hasn’t finished worse than 26th in that time.
Adam Levitan created a course history model, which I’ve adjusted slightly. Paul Casey is the model’s top golfer and this week’s Levitanimal. Casey has two top-20 finishes at TPC River Highlands in the past two years, including a second-place finish in 2015 when he lost in a playoff. Casey’s 67.9 Course Adjusted Round Score ranks first among golfers with more than one start at this track.
Moreover, Casey has been playing well lately: Prior to his 26th-place finish at the U.S. Open, Casey had finished 12th or better in three of four tournaments and hadn’t finished worse than 22nd. Casey is tied for second in the field with his 67.9 Recent Adj Rd Score, and his 14.7 Recent Adj Bird Avg ranks 10th overall.
Be sure to watch/listen to the PGA Daily Fantasy Flex podcast coming soon.
Good luck this week!