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 show of golf has been put on at the Country Club by some of the biggest names in the game, as well as some that many people know a lot less about. In the end, it was Matt Fitzpatrick who finally earned that elusive first PGA Tour victory, let alone winning the US Open at the site of his US Amateur victory nine years earlier. The Englishman earned a week off along with close chaser Will Zalatoris, who opted to skip the Travelers Championship after previously committing to the field. Fear not for the great golf enthusiasts in the greater Hartford area who make this event the second busiest tournament on the PGA Tour schedule each year. There are still 10 of the top 20 OWGR players 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 celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2022, with TPC River Highlands hosting every year since 1984. Bubba Watson is the all-time record holder for TPC River Highlands wins with three (2010, 2015, 2018). Watson suffered a torn meniscus last month at the PGA Championship and unfortunately will not be on the court this week. Harris English is the defending champion in which he staged an epic playoff duel against Kramer Hickok in 2021. This course always has a way of creating a ton of drama over time and it should be no different in 2022 with the one of the best 156-man Champs in tournament history.
Rain is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, which should soften the course for most of the tournament. There will also be very little wind, which in turn should create very good scores. It will be quite the contrast to last week’s US Open grind where birdies were hard to come by and bogeys lurked around every corner. The winning score has been double digits under every year here since 1994. During that streak, the winner has also hit 20 under three different times, which could be in the cards for this elite field in 2022.
2021 – English Harris (-13)
2020 – Dustin Johnson (-19)
2019 – At 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 Leishmann (-14)
Key stats for victory
- SG: Approach
- SG: Put
- Medium Birdie
- Driving precision
TPC River Highlands is one of the shortest courses on the circuit at just over 6,800 metres. That puts the whole field in play this week. The rough will land somewhere around four inches in length, which will make it important to keep the ball in the fairways to try and hit the pins. The greens are covered with Poa annua, which was also the surface used in last week’s US Open. Expect those who have rolled well at Brookline to feel confident right away on the greens at Hartford. The formula for success in a shootout is always to hit the greens and sink the putts. There will be plenty of corner chances due to the length of the course and those who can best control their distances will have a high chance of a fight. Birdie’s average will be a great stat to watch, but lots of tightly mown tricky areas around the greens will also make scrambling numbers a factor. Unknown sites have left the history of the course out of the equation for the past two weeks, but you better believe it can be used extensively at TPC River Highlands.
FanDuel value choice
Rory McIlroy ($11,900)
After collecting a T5 at the US Open, which was his third top 10 in 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 Average Score by a decent margin. The Northern Irishman staged the best putting tournament of his career at the Country Club and will now have another shot on the Poa annua greens this week at TPC River Highlands. In just three Travelers starts, McIlroy has gone T11-T12-T17.
Patrick Canlay ($11,600)
Cantlay had a good Sunday to finish T14 at the US Open, but was never really under the stress that some of the other top players had been through all weekend. Cantlay has been in the mix for a hot stretch. Throw a missed cut to the PGA Championship and Cantlay has gone 2nd-1st-T3-T14 in his last five starts. Cantlay can always rack up birdies on courses like this with the best of them. He has finished in the top 15 for the past four years at TPC River Highlands.
Davis Riley ($10,600)
Riley has been a birdie machine for the past few months and he now ranks 10th on the Tour in birdie average. Since catching everyone’s attention in his championship playoff loss to Valspar, Riley has racked up six more top-13 finishes. Although this is his first start at TPC River Highlands, this lack of experience hasn’t affected him at all lately on a myriad of different tracks.
Seamus Power ($10,500)
What a resurgence it has been this season for Power at 35. Having never played in a major this season, the Irishman has now finished T27-T9-T12 in the first three majors in 2022. Power has racked up a total of 14 top-35 finishes this season and ranks among the top 20 on the circuit in GIR percentage, scrambling and birdie average. He finished in the top 20 at TPC River Highlands last year.
Longer shots with value
Harold Varner III ($9,900)
Varner narrowly missed the cut at the US Open, but I have no doubts about his ability to bounce back in what is shaping up to be a shootout. Prior to that missed cut, Varner had gone nine straight weekends with seven T27 or better finishes, including a trio of top-6 results. The East Carolina product has a lot 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 performance at the US Open last week where he battled all week and finished in 14th place. Hardy was second to McIlroy in SG: Putting and should enjoy another week on Poa annua surfaces. The Illinois native has finished in the top 35 in each of his last three PGA Tour starts and ranks in the 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 Memorial where he placed 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 this week. He started the weekend at the US Open just one behind the lead and eventually finished the tournament with a 14th-place share. Buckley has missed his fair share of cuts this season, but he also has five top-15 finishes. He’s a very precise ball striker who just spent a week at Brookline where he placed in the top 16 in SG: Approach, GIR Percentage, Driving Accuracy, and SG: Around-the-Green.
Strategy advice this week
Based on a standard salary cap of $60,000
Even with a bunch of heavy hitters in the field this week, I still feel like there are a ton of different ways to build rosters. That’s what you get on a 6,800 yard golf course that should play soft for most of the week. Some players I’m likely to stay away from in my rosters are Scottie Scheffler ($12,000) who has a better T47 finish here and has been stressed 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 missed his last three cuts at TPC River Highlands. I think this is a week where some of the best putters will have the opportunity to shine, which isn’t always the case depending on the setup.
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