Course: TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, CT
-Par 70, 6841 yards
-Rough: Bluegrass, Rye, and Fescue
-Greens: Poa Annua (as of 2017) with a mix of Bentgrass
-Field: 156 players; Cut is Top 70 and ties with possible MDF
– Shorter course with only 2 par 5s and eight of the par 4s between 400-450 yards
Well I was really hoping we could get a playoff after that incredible performance put on by Fleetwood in the final round of the US Open this past week but, alas, Brooks has ice in his veins and looked about as clutch as I’ve ever seen on every par save, or in case of #11, bogey save. We all knew Brooks was good but damn, going back to back at that level is other worldly and I have to give him a ton of respect even if I was pulling for Fleetwood. I will go into more recap of the Open and the good and bad in my upcoming article in the next day or two for DFS! Onto the Travelers.
We get a rock solid field this year, I presume since it’s pretty close to New York where a bunch of these guys just were, but we get the likes of Rory, Justin Thomas, Spieth, Brooks, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey, and Jason Day all teeing it up this week at TPC River Highlands. This is one of the shorter courses on tour and we’re back to a Pete Dye design after a few weeks off. A ton of scoring opportunities are possible here with wide fairways and shorter holes than usual; bombers can bomb if they want to but driving distance is not necessary for success. Players who can lock in their mid to short irons, i.e. their wedges will have a huge leg up on those players trying to scramble to save par on Dye’s normally tricked up courses. The course features a ton of bunkers, around 120, a decent amount of water hazards, and slower greens than normal on the PGA Tour, which somewhat levels the playing field of the top tier putters to the average putters. Players with strong ball striking, solid short game, and a good track record of GIRs should succeed here.
Notable Holes and Trends
The final 4 holes of TPC River Highlands are some of the most fun to watch, with emphasis on holes 15-17, known as the “Golden Triangle.” The “Golden Triangle” is played around a 4 acre lake, which provides tremendous drama and potential big numbers in the blink of an eye. The 15th is a 296 yard par 4 which is drivable for most players but features water on the left and several bunkers on the right.
This course, as I’m sure many are aware, was the site of Jim Furyk’s historic 58 in the final round of 2016 when he made 10 birdies and an eagle (hole out on the par 4 3rd hole). I think this shows us two things in that 1) the course is not suitable to just one type of player and 2) low scores are certainly out here. Other trends that I found interesting are that the last 4 champions of this tournament: Jordan Spieth, Russell Knox, Bubba Watson, and Kevin Streelman, all played the US Open the week before their win. This week we will see 50 players of the 156 field who played at Shinnecock last week. Lastly, if trying to look at some course comparisons, I found the Pat Mayo (@thepme on Twitter) and Josh Culp (@futureoffantasy on Twitter) see decent correlation between the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run, Riviera CC, and Copperhead at Innisbrook. We can look at the full scorecard below with the average O/U strokes per hole and how they rank.
|Hole||Par||Length||Rank||Avg Strokes.||O/U Par|
Key Stats and Stats Needed to Compete
As I mentioned above, players that are locked in with their short to mid iron game should excel here as the course being so short provides the bigger hitters with 125 yards or less in on many holes while some of the shorter hitters shouldn’t have more than 150-175 yards. When I take a look at the landing zones as well as the par 3 distances, I see approximately 8-10 approaches, on average, of about 125-150 yards with another 4-6 from 150-175 yards. Furthermore, per FantasyNational.com, about 24% of approaches come from 150-175 yards while 20% come from 125-150 yards. I think I’m also going to give a decent look to SG: ARG (Around-The-Green) this week, which is rare for me, but as I look back at past years all winners, and most in the Top 10 finishers, rank highly in this category. With this stat, I wouldn’t weigh it heavily, but definitely check out some players who are strong in the sand saves category as is classic Pete Dye, bunkers are everywhere. Looking back at last year’s finish, Spieth ranked 2nd in SG: T2G for the week, 7th in SG: APP, 2nd in SG: ARG while Berger was 9th T2G and 2nd in SG: APP. Spieth was first in BoB Gained, 18th in Bogey Avoidance, while Berger was 1st in Bogeys Avoided and 19th in BoB Gained.
So, what’s it going to take to compete? Stats I think I’ll be targeting include SG: Ball Striking (Player’s rank in both total driving AND GIR), SG: APP (with emphasis on 125-175 yards), Par 4 Efficiency from 400-450 yards, SG: ARG, BoB (Birdie-Or-Better) Gained, GIRs Gained, and Bogey Avoidance. Please note that there should always be some emphasis on SG: T2G but since that is used each and every week I don’t include it in stats that I’m “targeting.” I will go into more depth on my finalized stats, players who’s form I like, course history, and more in my DFS article in the next day or two.
Bonus – A few early week bets I like (haven’t bet anything yet)
*All odds from Bovada; I’m sure there are better numbers out there on various sites*
Stats and Categories from FantasyNational.com @fantasynational on Twitter
That’s all for the course preview! Follow me on Twitter @sscherman and follow @AmateurHour_Pod too for picks, podcasts with FIRE guests, and weekly picks to win.