Welcome to the latest edition of the DraftKings Fantasy PGA Sleepers column. What a week we had at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. We are back to the East Coast for the Travelers Championship. The field is a bit lighter, but there are still stars to be had.
I’m back to offer a few picks for this week’s PGA slate. As always, I will try to weave in players from a few pricing tiers – this won’t be a column on the five cheapest guys each week and why they have a 1% chance of making the cut.
A balanced lineup in Daily Fantasy Golf is important so I want to offer you opportunities to construct lineups with sleepers at a variety of price points. As always, suggestions are appreciated to help improve the column and so we can better meet your DFS needs.
The Travelers Championship is held at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT. River Highlands is a 6,854 yard, par 70 course – much shorter than most on tour. The course was built in 1928 and has undergone a series of name changes since then finally settling on the current name in 1989. The tournament has been played at this venue since 1984 so historical records all the way back to 1989 (the date of the last redesign) should be relevant.
The weather looks like it will be good with little chance of wind or rain. As always, keep checking in during the week as wind can crop up at any time at this course.
Thank goodness we are at a course that someone has played more than once. We have tons of data that shows us…well, what does it show us? Long hitters can do well, but so can shorter ones. You need to be accurate anyway you look at it as there is rough to be found not too far off course.
Driving Distance –The course can be overpowered to some degree (though you have to stay on course) so we’ll also look at…
GIR – Getting to these simple putting surfaces in a timely fashion will allow high scores.
Ball Striking – A wonderful short cut stat that adds Total Driving (the combo of Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy) with GIR. All three stats should be important this week.
Par 4 scoring – It’s a par 70 course, so we need to focus on par 4s as there will be more chances on par 4s.
Birdie Percentage < 125 yards – I used this stat last year to identify the eventual winner Kevin Streelman. No need to deviate this year as I’ll use this as a tiebreaker – many of the opportunities will be from this distance and in.
Pete Dye – Also relevant this week is that the initial redesign on the course in 1982 was performed by Pete Dye. So, we’ll want to look at players who are successful on the other Pete Dye courses on tour. Those four courses in regular rotation on Tour are:
TPC Sawgrass (THE PLAYERS)
Harbour Town (RBC Heritage)
TPC River Highlands (Travelers – this week’s tournament)
TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic)
Also, Whistling Straits (2004 and 2010 PGA Championship venue) is a Dye-designed course.
Don’t worry about putting much this week – these greens are flat and relatively simple to read and putt which brings below average putters into the pack.
As always, you should examine Strokes Gained: Putting and Strokes Gained: Tee to Green every week.
These aren’t high end prices, but we’re looking for premium players at a discount rate.
Zach Johnson ($9,100): Johnson does well at Pete Dye courses in general so he has to be considered this week. He’s actually struggled here the last three years with a missed cut and no finish better than T58. He posted a T72 at the U.S. Open, but had been hot prior to Chambers Bay reeling off three straight top 20s including a solo fifth at the Byron Nelson. He’s 40th in par 4 scoring (23rd from 125 yards and in), 55th in GIR and 53rd in ball striking so his profile fits the course.
Russell Knox ($8,400): Knox is fifth in par 4 scoring (though a distant 112th in birdies or better < 125 yards), ninth in GIR and 17th in ball striking. He’s made two of three cuts at the Travelers including a T13 two years ago. He’s playing extremely well lately with seven cuts made in a row and 10 off 11 including a T18 at the RBC, T43 at the Zurich and T17 at the PLAYERS.
Jason Bohn ($8,100): Bohn is always up for consideration on shorter courses and this week is no different. Bohn is sixth in par 4 scoring (34th in birdie or better < 125 yards), 26th in GIR and 51st in Ball Striking so he’s got the perfect profile for success this week. Oddly, he’s missed his last three cuts here, after making his first five. His only top ten was a T6 in his first trip. He’s made four cuts in a row on Tour including two top 10 finishes.
The Soft Middle
Looking for some soft pricing in the lower tiers.
Sean O’Hair ($7,400): O’Hair is a par 4 master sitting sixth in par 4 scoring and 18th in birdie or better < 125 yards. However, he’s only 127th in GIR and 95th in ball striking so he could have some accuracy issues. He’s two of five at Travelers with a top finish of T63 so he’s a deep sleeper this week for those who want to rely on par 4 scoring work to build a roster. Remember he’s been playing better this year than he has in years and put up a solo sixth at the RBC and T12 at Zurich so he’s shown some success at Pete Dye courses.
Chris Stroud ($7,100): Stroud is a horse for this course as he’s six for seven in cuts made (the only miss was a withdrawal) with a top 10 finish in his history. He’s had three top 20 finishes in his last four trips. He’s also performed relatively well on Pete Dye courses in his career. He’s not in the best form missing three of his last four cuts so no one will likely be looking at him.
El Cheapo Guapo
They won’t cost you much, but they have real upside. And they sure are handsome.
In a major, it’s tough to recommend these options for cash games as the overall pricing is soft. However, if you are in GPPs, you can make use of any number of players in an attempt to build a unique lineup.
William McGirt ($6,900): McGirt missed the first two cuts here, but has put up a T30 and T31 in his last two trips. He’s made three of six cuts on Tour with no finish better than T28. He’s 61st in par 4 scoring with an even better 21st spot in birdie or better < 125 yards. He also fits pretty well off the tee as he’s 84th in ball striking and 66th in GIR.
Angel Cabrera ($6,500): Cabrera has only played here three times (the last three years) and has back to back top 15 finishes. He withdrew from the Byron Nelson a few weeks ago with a back injury so there is some concern there especially after the T64 at the U.S. Open. But, he made his way around Chambers Bay so he’s healthy enough.
Scott Langley ($6,400): Langley’s home course is The Dye Preserve in South Florida so he knows his way around Dye-designed courses. He was T11 last year after missing the cut in his first trip. He’s alternated cuts made and missed over his last nine tour stops. He’s 155th in par 4 scoring, but he’s 38th in birdie or better < 125 yards so I like him as a sneaky play this week.
Each week, I’ll throw one player out there who has one thing working for him. He’s probably got a less than 10% chance of making the cut, but if you want gamble in larger GPPs you need a unicorn on your side.
Tyrone Van Aswegen ($5,700) – The South African hopes to follow in the footsteps of his countrymen last week who owned Chambers Bay. Van Aswegen finished T26 at the Travelers last year in his only trip to the tournament. He has struggled on the PGA Tour this year as he’s made only three of 13 cuts though he is in off his best finish (T29) of the season at the St. Jude. He’s 93rd in par 4 scoring so he has a puncher’s chance to make a dent in this tournament.