After the lengthy grind of the US Open, the Travelers Championship will feel like a trip to a resort.
Gone are the long par fours and daunting par threes as the PGA Tour welcomes a birdie-friendly event where every type of player has a chance.
There’s been a wide array of winners at the Travelers during the years and the 6841-yard par 70 TPC River Highlands track will be there for the taking, providing the wind doesn’t blow.
Thirteen of the world’s top 30 players will be in attendance at River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut while 50 players who teed it up at last week’s US Open will keep the ball rolling.
Jordan Spieth ($8,500) is the defending champion after a spectacular hole-out from a bunker to defeat Daniel Berger ($7,100) in a playoff last year.
Bubba Watson ($7,000) has won the event twice previously but the course did receive a few tweaks a couple of years ago.
Pete Dye is the main architect of a track that has been a staple on the Tour for 35 years.
The greens are poa annua with a bentgrass blend.
Last week: The US Open brought its share of carnage but the column came through OK.
We looked at nine players, including eventual winner Brooks Koepka ($9,000), who will also play again this week. Three finished inside the top 10 and seven were inside the top 25.
The two missed cuts weren’t ideal but we held our own and move forward.
This 156-man event is played on a short course where you will need players who can make birdies.
Jim Furyk ($5,800) shot a 58 here in 2016 and eight of the par fours are 400-450 yards meaning players can pick their poison from the tee and attack the green.
Given the lack of length required, most players club down from the tee and regularly hit the fairway. There’s only two par fives and both are reachable in two.
You need guys who can stick it close and make putts. Iron play – like most weeks – is crucial here.
One interesting note: Spieth lost two strokes to the field putting last year on his way to victory.
So if you’ve been waiting for a week where a rubbish putter might finally break through a la JJ Spaun ($5,800), now is your time.
My lineups are going to be balanced this week; there’s so much value in the middle.
$8K & $9K Range
I won’t be playing a lot of this range for myriad reasons. Stars and scrubs will be tough to put together because the lower end is poor.
Patrick Reed ($8,000) – If you must play someone at the upper echelon, take the savings on the Masters champion.
Reed logged a fourth-place finish at last week’s US Open and brings solid recent form.
He finished fifth here last season and hit every fairway in the final round, solid stuff for a guy who doesn’t gain a lot of strokes off the tee.
His irons have been better this season and his short game is amazing – sixth on Tour for strokes gained: around the green.
You can make the argument to play everyone in this range; it would allow you to build balanced lineups if you started here.
Paul Casey ($7,700) – Paul Casey is an auto-play for me in PGA DFS every week. He rarely misses cuts, is a pure ball-striker and regularly logs top-20 finishes.
Casey has two top-fives in three appearances at this event. He’s 15th in strokes gained: approach on Tour this season; only the putter holds him back.
He broke a lengthy win drought earlier this year and looms as a rock solid play.
Ryan Moore ($7,200) – Moore has made seven consecutive cuts at this tournament and nine of his past 10.
He regularly flies under the radar as he isn’t a flashy type and could be a solid pivot in the $7K range where Marc Leishman ($7,400) will get all of the Australian love.
Moore has made five of his past six cuts and is eighth in strokes gained: tee-to-green on Tour this year. Another guy who isn’t a stud putter but let’s hope he can meet the field average.
Xander Schauffele ($6,900) – The X Man is a player I don’t always get right but he finished 14th here last season; that gave him great momentum towards his victory in the Tour Championship.
His irons have been up and down this season but he did change equipment providers to begin the year.
Both his wins on Tour last year came on par-70 tracks and his length from the tee should set him up nicely.
Coming off a T6 at the US Open, he will be full of confidence.
Patrick Cantlay ($6,700) – I can’t see how you can avoid Cantlay at this price.
The cut-maker shot a 60 at this course as an amateur in 2011, the lowest round on Tour by an am.
He’s popular in the betting market and given he is priced this low he represents a value play.
The 26-year-old is 11th in strokes gained: tee-to-green this season and is another player that may enjoy the forgiving putting surfaces.
Keegan Bradley ($6,300) – Keegan absolutely destroyed me at the US Open last week as he trunk-slammed his way to nearly finishing DFL.
Let’s throw out the major as an outlier and keep in mind what he has done this season. He leads the Tour in strokes gained: approach and is seventh tee-to-green.
Chuck in seven consecutive made cuts at the Travelers and I am officially on board at this price.
Emiliano Grillo ($6,200) – The Argentine is another player getting a lot of love in the betting market and it’s easy to see why.
He’s 22nd in strokes gained: tee-to-green and has made a boatload of cuts. He didn’t get any weekend work at the US Open last time out but we can forgive that.
While putting isn’t always a factor here he is 11th on Tour in strokes gained: putting this season and has had the flat stick rolling.
Troy Merritt ($5,800) – At this price you just need someone to make a cut, right? Well the 32-year-old American has made 10 of his past 11 cuts this year.
He has sprinkled in a few top-20 finishes for good measure and is a solid iron player. He has a win on Tour in 2015 so has ability.
Vaughan Taylor ($5,500) – Taylor has made eight of his past nine cuts at this tournament.
He comes in with some half-decent current form with three straight pay cheques.
Shorter tracks are where Taylor thrives given his lack of length from the tee. His putter can get hot and he’s 41st on Tour for scoring average.
Piece of Chalk: Yes, it’s probably another week where I tout Paul Casey ($7,700) but I am not ready to get off that train yet.
Scrub-A-Dub: The consistent Troy Merritt ($5,800) is the man to fill this spot this week.