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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: Travelers Championship (2024)


Following the dramatics that ensued at Pinehurst No. 2 for last week’s U.S. Open, the PGA Tour turns its attention to yet another Signature Event in the Travelers Championship.


This year marks the 72nd playing on the championship, held annually at TPC River Highlands in Cronwell, Connecticut. 


The Travelers Championship draws the second largest crowd each season on the PGA Tour to just the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.


The electricity that the crowds bring is a warm welcome following the U.S. Open and can both play to the benefit of the golfers or could see them crumble.


The Travelers Championship was first played in 1952 as the Insurance City Open before moving to the Greater Hartford Open in 1967. It took on Travelers Companies as the tournament sponsor in 2007.


TPC River Highlands has hosted the event since 1984


Along with the change in the atmosphere brought on by the fans, this course offers ample birdie opportunities and truly rewards the best ball strikers on Tour.


The Field

Being another Signature Event, we’ll see a limited field this week as the World’s best are on tap for the short trip to New England from North Carolina this week.


Each of the golfers within the top-30 of the Official World Golf Rankings will be in attendance this week.


Unsurprisingly, Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from this event and will not be teeing it up this week after his hardships down the stretch at the U.S. Open.


The only other two eligible golfers not teeing it up this week are Min Woo Lee and Nicolai Hojgaard. 


That means this week’s field will once again be headlined by the likes of Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay and Ludvig Åberg.


Keegan Bradley comes in as the defending champion as he took down his ‘hometown’ event a season ago. He’ll look to win back-to-back Travelers Championships this week.


Xander Schauffele (2022) and Harris English (2021) are the only other two former champions of this event in this week’s field.


The Course

TPC River Highlands plays as a par 70 at 6,841 yards. What is unique about this course is that it features just two par fives, so any hopeful winner will have to take advantage of the ample par fours this course has to offer.


The fairways and greens are Bentgrass as the rough is a thick Bluegrass.


It was founded in 1928 as the Middletown Golf Club before becoming the Edgewood Country club in 1934. The PGA TOUR bought the venue in the early 1980’s.


Upon acquisition by the PGA TOUR, the course was redesigned by Pete Dye and shortly after opened as the TPC of Connecticut in 1984. 


Further remodelings took place in 1989 by Bobby Wood in consultation with Howard Twitty and Roger Maltbie and then took on the name of TPC River Highlands.


The most recent modifications came in 2016 as the bunkers were restyled throughout the course which incorporated a new drainage system with new sand to improve the play-ability.


The 17th green too was rebuilt to increase the number of potential pin positions and small changes were made to the putting surfaces on holes ten, 13, 15 and 16.


Some leveling work was completed on some of the tee boxes that year as well. 


TPC River Highlands is known for its three hole strength, nicknamed the “Golden Triangle” that includes holes 15, 16 and 17.


The 15th is a driveable par 4, the 15th a 170-plus par three over water and the 17th is a 420-yard par four with water in play. These three holes all combine for great drama and spectator views coming down the stretch.


TPC River Highlands plays as one of the shortest tracks on the entire PGA TOUR schedule.


The fairways and greens alike historically rank as some of the easiest to hit on the PGA TOUR. Driving accuracy numbers sit around 70-percent, which is roughly ten-percent higher than the PGA TOUR average.


As previously mentioned, this event is the second highest attended event on the PGA TOUR schedule. This adds a stadium atmosphere to the course and makes for an exhilarating viewing experience, especially down the final stretch of holes.


Playoffs too have been of the norm here at TPC River Highlands with five of the last 13 events resulting in one.


Hole 18 has set the scene for many infamous “walk-off” hole outs over the years, most notably Jordan Spieth in 2017.


This course, in all, is a classic parkland setting that does have some man-made water hazards that come into play on five of the holes.


The Weather

We got one dry week on the PGA Tour for last week’s U.S. Open and that must have been enough for Mother Nature. As of the time of writing this, Friday currently calls for a 70-percent chance of precipitation, Saturday a 50-percent chance and Sunday a 40-percent chance. With the east-coast set to see its highest temperatures of the year, it too will be hot. Temperatures will be at their highest on Thursday and Friday at 94 and 95-degrees respectively before falling to 87-to-88 degrees on the weekend. Winds will be at the highest on Thursday and Sunday at ten miles-per-hour and are set for six-to-seven miles-per-hour for both Friday and Saturday. 


Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG)

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Proximity to the Hole From 125-175 Yards

  • Bogey Avoidance

  • Birdie or Better Percentage

  • Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass (SG: PUTT Bentgrass)

  • Par 4 Average Scoring

  • Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Hit Fairway Percentage

  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)

  • Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)

  • Scrambling / Scrambling from the Rough


DFS Suggestions

$10,000+

These limited fields are so hard to judge when it comes to DFS because the player pool is so small and therefore, the DFS ownerships will all be higher. Therefore, I’m simply going to suggest my favorite guys without taking ownership into consideration. Please make note. First up we have Xander Schauffele ($11,200.) He is currently first on Tour in scrambling, second in all of SG: TTG, bogey avoidance and par four average scoring, third in birdie or better percentage, fifth in SG: APP, ninth in SG: OTT, 16th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 21st in SG: ATG, 33rd in scrambling from the rough, 48th in hit fairway percentage and 57th in proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards. We know what we’re getting out of Schauffele on any given week. Last week at the U.S. Open he had a ‘down’ week and still placed T7th in the hardest challenge in the world of golf. Outside of that he placed T8th at the Memorial Tournament, won the PGA Championship and placed second at the Wells Fargo Championship. He’s a top ten merchant who even on his bad weeks, is going to place really well. In 15 events he’s played this season he has 11 top tens, five top fives, two runner-ups and a victory. Schauffele also placed T19th here a season ago and won this event in 2021. Not a bad way to spend $11,200 in DFS in my opinion. 


$9,000-$9,900

I love to play guys the week after they were one of the most tipped guys and didn’t live up to the hype. Collin Morikawa ($9,800) fits that mold. Morikawa placed T14th last week at the U.S. Open but was a major disappointment to his backers. However, prior to that he placed solo second at the Memorial, fourth at the Charles Schwab, T4th at the PGA Championship, T16th at the Wells Fargo Championship, ninth at the RBC Heritage and T3rd at the Masters. Morikawa has also been fantastic in bouncing back after Majors. He followed up the Masters with a ninth place finish at the RBC Heritage. He followed the PGA Championship up with a fourth place finish at the Charles Schwab. He did miss the cut here in his last two outings, including last year and 2020. Everything is pointing towards his ownership being lowered. Morikawa is currently third on Tour in hit fairway percentage, 11th in SG: TTG, 12th in birdie or better percentage, 13th in SG: ATG, 15th in SG: OTT, 20th in par four average scoring, 26th in scrambling, 28th in bogey avoidance, 29th in proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards, 51st in SG: APP, 110th in SG: PUTT Bermuda and 126th in GIR%. With the way his putter is rolling, I don’t think he can win this tournament (or any) but he’s a perfect DFS play this week in my opinion. Also consider Hideki Matsuyama ($9,200.) I’ve been all over Matsuyama this season and that’s for good reason. He’s fresh off a sixth place finish at the U.S. Open and prior to that, placed T8th at the Memorial. Earlier this season he had a stretch of events where he won The Genesis Invitational, placed T12th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T6th at THE PLAYERS Championship and T7th at the Valero Texas Open. He placed T13th here a season ago as well. Matsuyama is currently first on Tour in SG: ATG, third in both SG: TTG and scrambling, seventh in scrambling from the rough, 12th in bogey avoidance, 15th in SG: APP, 20th in par four average scoring, 49th in SG: OTT, 57th in GIR%, 64th in birdie or better percentage, 82nd in proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards and 97th in hit fairway percentage. Of course, his downfall comes with the putter as he ranks 143rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass but when his irons are at their best, there’s no need for a putter. I’m also playing a unit on him at +3300 this week.


$8,000-$8,900

My first play here is Sahith Theegala ($8,800.) This is where we were kind of first introduced to him in a way back in 2022 where he placed T2nd. He comes into this week with a mixture of form. He wasn’t his best last week at the U.S. Open but prior to that placed T12th at the Memorial. He also missed the cut at the RBC Canadian Open but placed T12th at the PGA Championship. He also placed solo second at the RBC Heritage. Theegala is currently 19th on Tour in both birdie or better percentage and SG: OTT, 21st in SG: TTG, 23rd in SG: APP, 28th in GIR%, 30th in proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards, 35th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 38th in scrambling from the rough, 49th in par four average scoring, 62nd in bogey avoidance, 65th in scrambling, 90th in hit fairway percentage and 123rd in SG: ATG. Also consider Corey Conners ($8,400.) Conners placed T9th here a season ago and comes into this week on some great form. His worst finish in his last six events has been T26th at the PGA Championship. He’s fresh off a T9th at last week’s U.S. Open and prior to that placed T20th at the Memorial, sixth at the RBC Canadian Open and T13th at the Wells Fargo Championship. He is currently second on Tour in SG: APP, fifth in proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards, sixth in GIR%, eighth in SG: TTG, 26th in both SG: OTT and hit fairway percentage, 32nd in birdie or better percentage, 35th in par four average scoring, 65th in bogey avoidance, 86th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 110th in SG: ATG. His problems come with scrambling as he ranks 135th in scrambling and 157th in scrambling from the rough. He tends to compile his mistakes. However, with elite iron and approach play, I think this course measures up perfectly for him. I’m also playing a unit on him at +4500.


$7,000-$7,900

I’m going back to the Si Woo Kim ($7,500) well. Kim is currently sixth on Tour in SG: TTG, tenth in all three of SG: APP, scrambling and hit fairway percentage, 11th in bogey avoidance, 20th in all three of par four average scoring, SG: OTT and SG: ATG, 68th in birdie or better percentage, 71st in GIR% and 77th in proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards. His downfall of course comes on the greens as he ranks 141st in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. Kim routinely loses strokes putting and still has ten top 25’s on the season. In the event he gets a few to fall in his favor, he’ll skyrocket up leaderboards. He placed T32nd last week at the U.S. Open and prior to that placed T15th at the Memorial. He also placed T16th at the Wells Fargo Championship, T13th at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson, T18th at the RBC Heritage, T30th at the Masters, T17th at the Texas Children’s Houston Open and T6th at THE PLAYERS Championship. Kim has missed the cut the last three years here but placed T11th in 2020. Also consider Tom Hoge ($7,000.) Hoge is currently fourth on Tour in SG: APP, sixth in birdie or better percentage, seventh in proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards, 11th in scrambling from the rough, 20th in par four average scoring, 33rd in hit fairway percentage, 37th in GIR%, 38th in SG: TTG, 39th in bogey avoidance, 66th in scrambling and 102nd in SG: OTT. His downfalls this week come in the form of a 132nd placement in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 149th in SG: ATG. Hoge does have the ability to spike with the putter as he gained 2.809 strokes at the PGA Championship and was positive at both the Wells Fargo Championship and RBC Heritage, although slightly. He missed the cut last week at the U.S. Open but prior to that made five consecutive cuts, including a T17th at the Charles Schwab Challenge and a T23rd at the PGA Championship. His season has been capped by a T6th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and an eighth at The Genesis Invitational. 


$6,900-

Leading off this price range is Lucas Glover ($6,700.) Glover comes into this week missing back-to-back cuts but prior to that placed T12th at the Charles Schwab Challenge, T16th at the Wells Fargo Championship and T20th at the Masters. Glover is currently fourth on Tour in hit fairway percentage, sixth in proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards, 17th in SG: APP, 20th in par four average scoring, 22nd in SG: TTG, 34th in SG: ATG, 84th in both scrambling from the rough and GIR%, 91st in both bogey avoidance and SG: OTT, 102nd in scrambling, 117th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 122nd in birdie or better percentage. Also consider Chris Kirk ($6,900.) Kirk has fallen quite a bit from where he started this season. He did place T26th last week at the U.S. Open but prior to that missed three straight cuts. He did place T10th at the RBC Heritage and T16th at the Masters however. He also hasn’t played here since 2021 where he missed the cut. Kirk is currently ninth on Tour in proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards, 20th in par four average scoring, 24th in both SG: TTG and birdie or better percentage, 32nd in SG: OTT, 59th in hit fairway percentage, 60th in SG: ATG, 63rd in SG: APP, 87th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 90th in scrambling, 92nd in scrambling from the rough, 98th in bogey avoidance and 132nd in GIR%. 


Betting Card

  • Ludvig Aberg (+1600) - 2u

  • Hideki Matsuyama (+3300) - 1u

  • Corey Conners (+4500) - 1u

  • Brian Harman (+5500) - 1u

  • Shane Lowry (+7500) - 1u


Ludvig Aberg (+1600)

Aberg was the 36-hole leader at the U.S. Open before having a rough weekend. Let’s not forget that was his first U.S. Open. He still went on to place T12th. He also placed T5th at the Memorial, T10th at the RBC Heritage, solo second at the Masters, T14th at the Valero Texas Open and eighth at THE PLAYERS Championship. He is currently sixth on Tour in par four average scoring, ninth in bogey avoidance, 11th in SG: APP, 12th in SG: TTG, 13th in both proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards and birdie or better percentage, 14th in SG: OTT, 15th in scrambling, 23rd in GIR%, 25th in scrambling from the rough, 49th in hit fairway percentage, 74th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 105th in SG: ATG.


Brian Harman (+5500)

Harman’s course history is what interests me this week. Over his last five rounds here he placed solo second last year, eighth in 2022, T5th in 2021 and eighth in 2019. That should be enough to excite you. Although his recent form doesn’t jump off the page at you, he has made the cut in six straight events, including three top 25 finishes. He is currently 25th on Tour in both proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards and hit fairway percentage, 35th in par four average scoring, 43rd in scrambling, 51st in bogey avoidance, 53rd in SG: ATG, 54th in SG: TTG, 55th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 56th in SG: APP, 74th in birdie or better percentage, 91st in scrambling from the rough, 104th in SG: OTT and 118th in GIR%.


Shane Lowry (+7500)

Lowry placed T19th here a season ago and has made the cut in each of his last three outings here. He is currently 14th on Tour in SG: APP, 16th in hit fairway percentage, 20th in par four average scoring, 23rd in SG: TTG, 42nd in SG: OTT, 64th in GIR%, 65th in birdie or better percentage, 75th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 93rd in scrambling from the rough, 108th in SG: ATG, 109th in proximity to the hole from 125-175 yards, 126th in scrambling and 140th in bogey avoidance. Lowry has not missed the cut since his first event of the season. He placed T19th last week at the U.S. Open and placed T6th at the PGA Championship. He won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans alongside McIlroy and also placed third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T4th at the Cognizant Classic this season.

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