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Fantasy Golf Picks: 2017 Travelers Championship Predictions, Sleepers & Preview

Patrick Mayo Staff Writer June 19, 2017 11:40AM EDT

2017 Travelers Championship
Defending Champ: Russell Knox

FNTSY Sports Network’s Pat Mayo and Cam Stewart debate their 2017 Travelers Championship picks and the week in betting at this week’s PGA Tour stop at TPC River Highlands.

Travelers: Picks & Preview | Bet Guide | Full Preview | Audio Podcast | Quick Picks | One & Done | US open recap
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Travelers Championship: Show Index

1:13 US Open Recap
8:50 Top Gambling Movies
11:13 US Open Broadcast
27:03 Travelers Course/Key Stats
29:10 Travelers Field Breakdown
44:07 Travelers Picks/Bets
45:02 Travelers One and Done Selections
46:42 British Open Futures

Travelers Championship Field
156 Players | Top 70 & Make the Cut After 36 Holes

I thought I was going to need something stronger than the Travelers Championship to wean off of the US Open. Fentanyl, I assumed. But then I got a glimpse of the field making the trek to Hartford, something usually said with similar enthusiasm as Wayne and Garth’s uneventful voyage to Delaware, and frankly, I was shocked. Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed, Brian Harman, Daniel Berger and Si WOOOOOO Kim (Kim withdrew Monday) represent the Top 30 contingent in 2017. Not bad, considering this event is usually Bubba Watson, Marc Leishman, Keegan Bradley, and a bunch of guys destined for the Web.com Tour.

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Bubba heads up the next rung of players, along with Brandt Sneaker, Leishman, Russell Knox, Emiliano Grillo, Charley Hoffman, Kevin Na, Scott Piercy, Tony Finau, Adam Hadwin, Wes Bryan, William McGirt, Webb Simpson, and Brendan Steele. Considering this is a week after a Major, I really can’t figure out how event organizers convinced a collection of such high profile names to show up. Travelers can’t the be primary insurer of ALL their private jets, can they?

Jim Furyk returns to the scene of his famed 58 from last season, fresh off his first made cut in three months. Oregon Duck Clarke Wyndham is making his pro debut too.

Travelers Championship Key Stats

Strokes Gained: Approach
Par 4 Efficiency 400-450 Yards
Good Drive Percentage
Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green
Birdie or Better Percentage

Travelers Championship Field
TPC River Highlands | Par 70 | 6,841 Yards

One of the TOUR’s shortest courses, TPC River Highlands is a scorer’s haven. Outside of the John Deere Classic (or the 2017 US Open if you believe whiny people on Twitter), this is annually the track that generates the most birdies on TOUR. And it’s because any style of player can contend. Just take a glance at the past champs: Bubba, Knox, Kevin Steeleman, Ken Duke, Leishman, Freddy Jacobson; there’s been quite the mix of skills sets to top the leaderboard over the years. A lot of which has to do with the eight Par 4s measuring between 400-450 yards. Since driving distance will be rendered inert, players will be able to dictate the specific distance they want to hit their approach shots. You’ll see a lot of bombers club down off the tee, increasing their accuracy, and getting to the iron range where they feel most comfortable.

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While the course is set up at minimum difficulty, venturing too far off the short grass can cause issues. It’s not impossible to make birdies from off the fairway, but scrambling can get tricky with 119 bunkers littered across the grounds. So, set a premium on greens in regulation, which I’ve done with Good Drive Percentage.

Good Drive Percentage

The percent of time a player hit a good drive. On Par 4 and Par 5’s, the number of fairways hit, + the # of Greens or fringe in regulation when the drive was not in the fairway on the tee shot. / by the number of par 4 and par 5’s played.

Traditionally, these bentgrass greens are some of the slowest on the PGA TOUR. Slow greens generally normalize putting averages, so, players near the bottom of the Strokes Gained: Putting stat have an opportunity to challenge with more frequency than usual. Focus on the players who dominate at getting to the putting surfaces over those who dominate on them. A good putting week will still be necessary to contend, however, players are basically finished if they aren’t lapping the field tee-to-green this week, especially through approaches.

We can never go too long without seeing a Pete Dye course pop up in the rotation. For corollary courses, I suggest taking a peek at those who excel on Dye tracks, and a quick glance at the John Deere Classic shouldn’t hurt either.

Travelers Championship Picks (Yahoo Game)

Rory McIlroy & Brendan Steele – Sure, it’s his maiden voyage at the Travelers Championship, but hammering Rory the week after a horrendous performance is a good spot for the world’s No. 3 player… With his T13 at Erin Hills, Steele has now played the weekend in 20 consecutive events. And he’s doing it through scrambling (1st) and Par 4 scoring from the key range of 400-450 yards (1st in the field). As a bonus, Steele has made the cut four straight seasons at TPC River Highlands, never finishing worse than T25.

Check Out Mayo’s 2017 Fantasy Football RB Rankings

Paul Casey, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, & Danny Lee – It’s much easier loading up on Spieth and Thomas in this group, but I worry about a US Open hangover from the pair, so I’ll pivot on to Casey. Casey was undone on the weekend at Erin Hills because of two disastrous holes and a crappy putter. Neither of those things should be as important in Hartford. The playoff loser to Bubba in 2015, Casey is tops in the field in approaches over his past 12 rounds and sits sixth in T2G… We witnessed Webb pop at another Dye track in April when he failed to close out The Heritage, but the game plan here will be similar. Hit the fairway, hit the green, and pray the putts start falling. Even if it doesn’t result in a top finish, it’s a cut making strategy. Webb has played the full 72 in all of his seven starts in Connecticut… I wanted to see some health from Snedeker before jumping back on the bandwagon and I got that at the US Open. TPC River Highlands plays to his strengths of short Par 4s, and we know he can lap the field on the greens if he’s on… The most volatile of the selections from this group, Lee earns his spot based solely on Par 4 scoring from the key range. While it hasn’t quite translated to this event historically (T25/MC/MC/MC), he enters with two Top 10s in last past four starts and ranks third on P4s from 400-450 in last past 12 rounds (2nd in his past 24).

Check out Mayo’s 2017 Fantasy Football QB Rankings

Kyle Stanley & Bud Cauley – Let’s just play the hits in this grouping. Stanley’s been close for a while now (three Top 10s in his past six starts) while sitting second in the field in good drive percentage, and 17th in SG: Approach in the past 22 rounds. Eventually his hot run is going to fizzle out, hopefully he can breakthrough before that happens… Ditto for Cauley. He’s fourth over the past 12 rounds on P4s 400-450 yards, and ninth in SG: Approach. Always a better putter on bentgrass, Cauley too has three Top 10s in his past six starts. It’s approaching now or never time for the Texan.

The Pat Mayo Hour covers the entire scope of the Fantasy sports landscape from Football to Reality TV, daily and yearly leagues and everything in between. You can watch the Pat Mayo Hour every weekday at noon, 3:00pm EST, 8:00pm EST and Midnight on the FNTSY Sports Network Television channel or on your Apple TV, Xbox, Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. If you have a Fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at PatMayoHour@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show. 

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