Out of the Rough: The Travelers Championship
We’ve hit back-to-back major winners with Matthew Fitzpatrick edging Will Zalatoris at the US Open to go along with our Justin Thomas PGA Championship pick a month back. It feels good when our module is pumping out results the way it is, especially getting the result at a course such as The Country Club. We are very much in the green with our most recent hit. On top of having the winner, we cashed out early on our Denny McCarthy out right winning bet when he reached T4th. Not bad for a guy with +31000 odds entering the tournament. Our DFS plays did not pay out but who cares when we hit an outright winner. We’re onto the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands this week. Let’s see if the module and formula can give us another win.
US Open Results
Jon Rahm (+1) - T12th
Shane Lowry (+4) - MC
Matt Fitzpatrick (-6) - 1st
Sungjae Im (+4) - MC
Andrew Putnam (+6) - T31st
Justin Thomas (+7) - T37th
Viktor Hovland (+7) - MC
Tony Finau (+5) - MC
Mito Pereira (+4) - MC
Denny McCarthy (-1) - T7th
Collin Morikawa (-2) - T5th
Hideki Matsuyama (-3) - 4th Joaquin Niemann (+9) - T47th
Tom Hoge (+5) - MC
Kevin Kisner (+4) - MC
Although a post-major event, the PGA Tour is firing on all cylinders in what may be an attempt to combat the LIV Tour.
Many of the tour’s best will be on display this week with names such as World #1 Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Sam Burns, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay, Joaquin Niemann, Sungjae Im, Will Zalatoris and the list goes on and on.
Exciting times for the tour as normally we would see a depleted field following a major, especially one as daunting and physically demanding as the US Open at The Country Club.
With The Open just a few weeks away and the Scottish Open being a week prior and now officially part of the PGA Tour, we should see a depleted field in the weeks to follow the Travelers as golfers head overseas to prepare for the final major of the season.
As for the course, TPC River Highlands is actually the shortest course on tour, coming in at just 6,841 yards, topping second place Pebble Beach.
The Cronwell, CT course is a Pete Dye design, a name that is very popular when it comes to PGA Tour courses.
The course features eight par 4’s that are 400-450 yards, making efficiency in that distance very popular of course. After that, there are two par 4’s under 400 yards.
TPC River Highlands allows all kinds of golf games to strive here with its short length. We’ve seen bombers and ball strikers win here alike.
The course also features some of the widest fairways on tour, boasting a near 70-percent fairway hit percentage, well above the PGA Tour average. We could see the big bombers “letting it rip” off the tees with little threat of missing the fairway. This is where driving distance can come as an importance.
Due to this, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) is arguably the most important statistic as proven in year’s past and is evident in all low scoring events.
As with nearly every PGA Tour event, Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP) is also extremely important. Half the battle is getting off the tee, then it is getting on the green.
Before you take a deep dive into past results in preparation for this week, remember that the once super-slow Bentgrass greens that the course was known for were redone four years ago. These surfaces are now a mixture of Bentgrass and Poa Annua and now play on the faster side.
With the US Open being in Boston just a week prior, the field should be adjusted and therefore I’m not paying much attention to those gifted in putting on such greens opposed to the rest of the field.
As for weather this week, storms are expected to roll through the area Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Rain is much more possible in the morning, making those with the early window tee times on edge. This could be the type of swing that we saw in the early window on Friday at the US Open where rain and wind derailed many tournaments. Thursday too is set to be on the cooler side in the low 70’s. Weather will turn for the better for the remainder of the tournament as highs are set to hit the mid 80’s with little-to-no rain in the forecast.
Outside of SG: OTT, SG: APP, Average Driving Distance and Par 4 Efficiency 400-450 yards, other important statistics include Birdie or Better Percentage and Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG.)
A name that we touch on often as our favorite week-in-and-week-out is Justin Thomas ($10,800.) Thomas had a very non-Thomas-esk event at the US Open. He did make the cut but went +7 in the tournament. Beyond that, his skill set is ideal for TPC River Highlands. He’s tops on tour in birdie or better percentage and second in par 4 efficiency 400-450 yards. When it comes to gaining strokes, there is simply no one better on tour than Thomas. He’s second best on tour in par 4s that are 400-450 yards, as this course features eight. That’s a big advantage to Thomas. He’s also sixth in SG: APP and 13th in average driving distance. He’s also 14th in SG: OTT and 19th SG: ATG. Dating back to mid-May, Thomas has three top fives, of course, including his second career PGA Championship. He was third at the RBC Canadian Open and T5th at the AT&T Byron Nelson. According to our module, Thomas is the favorite to win this week’s Travelers Championship. Also consider Rory McIlroy ($11,000.) Rory is one of the hottest golfers on tour currently. He made a late run at last week’s US Open to get to two-under and finish T5th. Prior to that he won the RBC Canadian Open two weeks back. He had an impressive run leading up to that Canadian Open victory as well. He took second at The Masters, fifth at the Wells Fargo Championship, eighth at the PGA Championship and T18th at the Memorial. When it comes to qualifying golfers, just two other golfers are better in average driving distance than Rory. He’s going to get off the tee and set himself up very well all week, especially being third on tour in SG: OTT and average driving distance. He also comes in 16th in SG: ATG and 11th in birdie or better percentage, 15th in par 4 efficiency 400-450 yards and 20th in SG: APP. With Rory’s “home” tournaments coming up as we head overseas and the way he’s playing, he’s peaking at the right time of the year and a win of the Travelers could be collateral damage along the way.
Joaquin Niemann ($9,600) was someone I was confident in a week ago at the US Open but even the best and most well equipped golfers can struggle at the Country Club. This week, his game checks all the boxes as well. He’s currently tenth on tour in par 4 efficiency 400-450 yards, again, with eight of such holes on the course, very crucial. He’s also 18th in SG: ATG and 13th in SG: OTT. Niemann is also eighth in birdie or better percentage and 31st in average driving distance. Beyond that, he’s 39th in SG: APP. Dating back to the RBC Heritage in April, Niemann has four top 25’s with a T12 at the RBC Heritage and more recently, a third place finish at the Memorial. He’s priced nicely in the middle of the $9,000 price range as well. I really think this could be a tournament the young Chilean can win. Also consider Jordan Spieth ($9,900.) Spieth is a former champion of this event, winning it all back in 2017. However, that was the final year before the course underwent that extensive greens reworking that we previously touched on. Spieth is still playing great golf, coming in in the top 26th in all of the statistical categories we’ve touched on already. He's 19th in SG: ATG, where a lot of that “Spieth Magic” comes to life that he’s known for. Additionally, he’s 24th in SG: OTT, 28th in both birdie or better percentage and 29th in par 4 efficiency 400-450 yards, 39th in average driving distance and 28th in SG: APP. Dating back to the RBC Heritage where Spieth had his one win on the season, he has two top fives and three top tens. Besides his victory at the RBC Heritage, he took second at the AT&T Byron Nelson and T7th at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Let’s also not forget that Spieth already won this season on a Pete Dye designed track.
This is the price range we found Fitzpatrick in route to his US Open championship. Let’s see if we can’t have a repeat with that. Leading the way is Aaron Wise ($8,800.) Wise has a very well rounded game that fits the course well. He doesn’t do one thing extremely well, but does everything well. He’s 16th in SG: APP, 20th in birdie or better percentage, 40th in both SG: OTT and 31st in par 4 efficiency 400-450 yards as well as 68th in SG: ATG. Outside of a T51st at the AT&T Byron Nelson, where he still made the cut, Wise has two top fives, four top 25s and five top 30’s in his last six tournaments. Also consider Mito Pereira ($8,700.) Pereira has become a bit of a regular in this series as we of course had him in play during his one-missed-drive away from winning his debut at the PGA Championship. Pereira is top ten on tour in ball striking, ranking 10th in SG: APP. He’s also 16th in par 4 efficiency 400-450 yards and 21st in SG: OTT. He’s also above the tour average in average driving distance, birdie or better percentage and SG: ATG as well. We’ve seen what he can do when his game is on. Mix that excitement he brings with elite ball striking and that’s a combination to make some noise this week at the Travelers. He also had a recent stretch of success with a T17th at the AT&T Byron Nelson, T3rd at the PGA Championship, T7th at the Charles Schwab Challenge and T13th at the Memorial.
I’m not as excited about this price range as I normally am but there are a couple of names that I like this week. First off we have Luke List ($7,300.) A very good price for what he brings to the table in my opinion. List is elite off the tee, currently being 11th on tour in both average driving distance and SG: OTT. He’s also a very good ball striker as he currently ranks 23rd in SG: APP. He’s also 45th in birdie or better percentage and 55th in SG: ATG. He is slightly above average in par 4 efficiency 400-450 yards but being elite off the tee with these wider-than-normal fairways will help propel him this week. In a tough stretch of tournaments from the PGA Championship, the Memorial and the US Open, List did make two-of-three cuts, highlighted by a T26th at the Memorial. His combination of getting off the tee with above average ball striking can lead to some success this week. Also consider Tom Hoge ($7,400.) Unlike List, Hoge is not great off the tee, but is competent enough to have the other aspects of his game propel him. He’s average in both SG: OTT and average driving distance but is 11th in SG: APP and 22nd in par 4 efficiency 400-450 yards. Beyond that, Hoge is 41st in birdie or better percentage and 79th in SG: ATG. Hoge has been on a bit of a rough stretch with three missed cuts but prior to that did go T17th at the AT&T Byron Nelson and T9th at the PGA Championship. He did win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am which is a similar length to TPC River Highlands.
Last week at the US Open we rode out Denny McCarthy’s +31000 outright winner bet into Sunday where we cashed out at 600-percent. If we didn’t miss so much in the higher price ranges last week, McCarthy and his T7th finish would have propelled our DFS lineups. Let’s hope to repeat that success this week at the Travelers Championship. In this all-so-important price range we’ll lead off with Nate Lashley ($6,500.) Lashley is one of the best on tour when it comes to par 4 efficiency 400-450 at 14th. He’s also very good when it comes to birdie or better percentage as well as he ranks 30th on tour. This will set him up well this week to make some noise. He’s also around the tour average in SG: APP and is slightly above average in SG: OTT. Dating back to the Puerto Rico Open in early March, in nine tournaments, Lashley has one top ten, three top 15s and five top 25s. If Lashley is to make the cut he’s destined to make some noise this week. Also consider Austin Smotherman ($6,800.) Smotherman is a mess around the green as he’s literally one of the worst on tour. However, the rest of his game checks out for this week. Smotherman is 27th on tour in SG: OTT and 33rd in SG: APP; arguably the two most important statistics we’ve talked about for this tournament. He’s also 67th in average driving distance and is top 100 in both birdie or better percentage and par 4 efficiency 400-450 yards. Smotherman is also playing some good golf as of late. He’s made five straight cuts dating back to the Mexico Open at Vidanta on May 1st.
Strokes Gained: Proximity to Course
Strokes gained: Proximity to Course (SG: PTC) is the patented statistic developed by Lenny of the Out of the Rough Podcast. Each week, we will pick a golfer local to the course to be his SG: PTC choice. Last week Lenny went with Worcester, MA’s own Fran Quinn. Quinn missed the cut and posted a +13 line. Not the best this week.
This week he’s going with Keegan Bradley. Bradley is from Woodstock, Vermont which is less than three hours west of the TPC River Highlands and went to college at St. John’s in Queens, New York which is just shy of three hours south of the course.
SG: PTC Past Results
The Honda Classic - Chase Seiffert (+1) - T25th
The Arnold Palmer Invitational - John Pak (+8) - T52nd
The Players - Billy Horschel (WD)
The Valspar Championship - Sam Ryder (-1) - MC
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play - MC
The Valero Texas Open - Adam Long (-5) - T35th
The Masters - Patrick Reed (+6) - T35th
The RBC Heritage - Brian Harman (-6) - T35th
The Zurich Classic - Jay and Billy Haas (E) - T59th
The Mexico Open - Carlos Ortiz (-5) - T51st
The AT&T Byron Nelson - Harry Higgs (-4) - MC
The PGA Championship - Talor Gooch (+1) - T20th
The Charles Schwab Challenge - Tom Hoge (+4) - MC
The Memorial Tournament - Mackenzie Hughes (+2) - T37th
The RBC Canadian Open - Adam Svensson (-6) - T21st
The US Open - Fran Quinn (+13) - MC
One and Done
*Rules: A golfer can only be played once all season unless the chosen golfer wins the respective tournament. If the chosen golfer wins, he can be used again. We will keep track of success via monetary earnings to add value to bigger tournaments. We will track my choices for the rest of the season below.
For the second time in this series-within-a-series, I hit the winner; this time as Matt Fitzpatrick won the US Open. It’s always fun when that happens. We nearly doubled our overall and are well on our way to a pretty impressive season. This Week I’m going to go with Joaquin Niemann. I think he’s set to suite this course very well
The Masters - Shane Lowry ($870,000)
The RBC Heritage - Adam Hadwin ($54,844)
The Zurich Classic - Marc Lesihman ($24,111.50)
The Mexico Open - Gary Woodland ($60,955)
The AT&T Byron Nelson - Sam Burns ($0)
The PGA Championship - Justin Thomas ($2,700,000)
The Charles Schwab Challenge - Mito Pereira ($246,540)
The Memorial Tournament - Xander Schauffele ($142,800)
The RBC Canadian Open - Corey Conners ($315,375)
The US Open - Matt Fitzpatrick ($3,150,000)