This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Course: TPC River Highlands (6,852 yards, par 70)
Winner: $1,494,000 and 500 FedExCup points
What a golf display that was put on at The Country Club by some of the top names in the game, and also some of those who a lot of people are a lot less familiar with. Ultimately it was Matt Fitzpatrick who finally got that elusive first PGA Tour victory, let alone winning the U.S. Open at the site of his U.S. Amateur victory nine years earlier. The Englishman has earned a week off as well as his closely pursuer in Will Zalatoris, who elected to skip the Travelers Championship after previously committing to the field. Not to fear for the terrific golf fans of the greater Hartford area that make this event annually the second-most attended tournament on the PGA Tour schedule. There is still 10 of the top-20 players in the OWGR teeing it up this week at TPC River Highlands, including Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, Canadian Open champion Rory McIlroy, and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas.
The Travelers Championship is celebrating it's 70th year anniversary in 2022 with TPC River Highlands being the host every year since 1984. Bubba Watson is the All-time wins record holder at TPC River Highlands with three (2010, 2015, 2018). Watson suffered a torn meniscus last month at the PGA Championship and will not be in the field this week unfortunately. Harris English is the defending champion in which he put together an epic playoff duel against Kramer Hickok in 2021. This course just always has a way of creating a ton of drama down the stretch and it should be no different in 2022 with one of the best 156-man fields in tournament history.
Rain is in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, which should soften the course for most of the tournament. There will also be very little wind, which should in turn create some very good scoring. It will be quite the contrast from the grind at the U.S. Open last week where birdies were hard to come by and bogeys were lurking at every corner. The winning score has been double-digits under-par every year here since 1994. During that stretch the winner reached 20-under three different times as well, something that could be in the cards for this elite field in 2022.
2021 – Harris English (-13)
2020 – Dustin Johnson (-19)
2019 – Chez Reavie (-17)
2018 – Bubba Watson (-17)
2017 – Jordan Spieth (-12)
2016 – Russell Knox (-14)
2015 – Bubba Watson (-16)
2014 – Kevin Streelman (-15)
2013 – Ken Duke (-12)
2012 – Marc Leishman (-14)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- SG: Putting
- Birdie Average
- Driving Accuracy
TPC River Highlands is one of the shortest courses on Tour at just over 6,800 yards. That brings the entire field in play this week. The rough will land somewhere around four inches in length, which will make keeping the ball in the fairways important for trying to get at pins. The greens are blanketed with Poa annua, which was also the surface used at last week's U.S. Open. Expect those that rolled it good at Brookline to feel confident on the greens right away in Hartford. The formula for success at a shootout is always hitting greens and sinking putts. There will be a lot of wedge chances due to the length of the course and those that can control their distances the best will have a great chance at contending. Birdie average will be a big stat to look at, but a lot of the tricky closely mown areas around the greens will make scrambling numbers a factor as well. Unfamiliar venues has left course history out of the equation the last two weeks, but you better believe that it can be leaned on in a big way at TPC River Highlands.
FanDuel Value Picks
Rory McIlroy ($11,900)
After collecting a T5 at the U.S. Open, which was his third top-10 through three majors this season, McIlroy's last six starts look like this: 2nd-5th-8th-T18-1st-T5. He now leads the PGA Tour in SG: Total and scoring average by a decent margin. The Northern Irishman put together the best putting tournament of his career at The Country Club and now will get to have another crack on Poa annua greens this week at TPC River Highlands. In just three starts at the Travelers, McIlroy has gone T11-T12-T17.
Patrick Cantlay ($11,600)
Cantlay had a good Sunday to finish T14 at the U.S. Open, but was never really under the stress that some of the other top players were all weekend. Cantlay has been in the mix of a hot stretch. Throw out a missed cut at the PGA Championship and Cantlay has gone 2nd-1st-T3-T14 in his last five starts. Cantlay can always rack up birdies at courses like this with the best of them. He finished top-15 the last four years at TPC River Highlands.
Davis Riley ($10,600)
Riley has been a birdie machine over the last few months and he now ranks 10th on Tour in birdie average. Since catching everyone's eye in his playoff loss at the Valspar Championship, Riley has racked up six other top-13 finishes. While this will be his first start at TPC River Highlands, that lack of experience has not affected him in the slightest lately on a myriad of different tracks.
Seamus Power ($10,500)
What a resurgence it has been this season for Power at age 35. After never having played in a major coming into this season, the Irishman has now finished T27-T9-T12 through the first three majors in 2022. Power has racked up a total of 14 top-35 finishes this season and ranks top-20 on Tour in GIR percentage, scrambling and birdie average. He finished top-20 at TPC River Highlands last year.
Longer Shots with Value
Harold Varner III ($9,900)
Varner just barely missed the cut at the U.S. Open, but I have no doubts in his ability to bounce back in what lines up to be a shootout. Prior to that missed cut, Varner had made nine straight weekends with seven finishes of T27 or better, including a trio of top-6 results. The East Carolina product has a lot of things going for him this week, as he ranks 29th in SG: Approach, 12th in SG: Around-the-Green, ninth in putts per round and 14th in birdie average.
Nick Hardy ($8,300)
Hardy is coming off an impressive showing at the U.S. Open last week where he contended all week and finished in a share of 14th place. Hardy was second to only McIlroy in SG: Putting and should enjoy another week on Poa annua surfaces. The Illinois native has finished inside the top-35 in each of his last three starts on the PGA Tour and ranks top-20 in SG: Off-the-Tee and GIR percentage on the season.
Charles Howell III ($8,300)
Howell has quietly had a pretty solid season. He ranks 21st in SG: Around-the-Green, 36th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 12th in GIR percentage and 20th in birdie average. He is coming off a top-20 finish in his last start at the Memorial where he ranked 16th in SG: Approach and T13 in GIR percentage for the week. The veteran has three top-35 finishes in six career starts at TPC River Highlands.
Hayden Buckley ($7,500)
Buckley is a long shot that could pay off in a big way this week. He started the weekend at the U.S. Open just one back of the lead and ultimately finished the tournament in a share of 14th place. Buckley has missed his fair share of cuts this season, but he also has five top-15 finishes. He is a very accurate ball striker who is coming off a week at Brookline where he ranked top-16 in SG: Approach, GIR percentage, driving accuracy and SG: Around-the-Green.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
Even with a bunch of heavy hitters in the field this week, to me it still feels like there is a ton of different ways you can construct lineups. That's what you get on a 6,800-yard golf course that is expected to play soft throughout most of the week. Some players I'm likely to stay away from in my lineups are Scottie Scheffler ($12,000) who has a best finish of T47 here and was under stress all weekend at Brookline, Justin Thomas ($11,800) who has just one finish better than 30th here in seven starts, and Tony Finau ($11,200) who has missed his last three cuts at TPC River Highlands. I think this is a week where some of the top putters will have an opportunity to shine, which isn't always the case based on setup.