Travelers Championship 2021 DFS picks: Our expert makes bold predictions this week
This doesn’t feel like your typical week after a major—with the Travelers Championship earning commitments from five of the top 10 players in the world. The players enjoy this tournament and the course, TPC River Highlands, which has hosted this tournament every year since 1984. It’s one of the few courses on the PGA Tour that won’t put a huge emphasis on driving distance—giving an emphasis toward driving accuracy.
With the extended history at this course, the key stats model at RickRunGood.com is filled with strong data. It gives a nod to strokes gained/off the tee as the most important stat this week, and shows only nine other courses on tour where SG/off the tee is more important.
We’ve historically seen some very low scores at this event, highlighted by Jim Furyk’s 58 in 2016 and Patrick Cantlay’s 60 in 2011. However, those individual low rounds haven’t caused the overall scoring to creep well under par. In fact, this event hasn’t cracked 20-under par for a winning score since 2011 and often sits between 15-under and 17-under.
Here are our favorite plays (and fades) in every price for the 2021 Travelers Championship.
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Price range: $9,000 and above
High Upside: Patrick Cantlay ($10,400 DraftKings | $11,800 FanDuel)
Cantlay broke out of his “mini slump” with a victory at the Memorial a few weeks back and finished T-15 at Torrey Pines last week. He’s looking much more like his normal self, gaining a ton of strokes from tee to green and putting well enough to contend. Cantlay now travels to TPC River Highlands, where he has plenty of good memories. He has three consecutive top-15 finishes at this event and also shot a 60 here in 2011, still the lowest round by an amateur ever on the PGA Tour.
Safest Option: Paul Casey ($9,900 DraftKings | $11,600 FanDuel)
I was surprised that Casey didn’t crack the $10,000 mark on DraftKings considering he’s earned two top-seven finishes in his past two starts—the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. Outside of winning, Casey has done it all year in Connecticut. He’s played this event six times and has never finished worse than T-32. He has two runner-up finishes and two more T-5 finishes.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Patrick Reed ($10,000 DraftKings | $11,700 FanDuel)
I’m generally more bullish on Reed than most, but this price leaves me scratching my head. There’s a handful of golfers who I believe would be better suited for this high-end salary. Reed has mixed results at TPC River Highlands, finishing fifth in 2017 and 11th in 2016 but has off set those with three missed cuts in his past seven trips.
Pick To Win: Abraham Ancer ($9,100 DraftKings | $11,000 FanDuel)
It’s always difficult to pick a guy to win who hasn’t won on tour before, but Ancer has been magnificent. Even with his missed cut last week, he still averages the most strokes gained per round (2.03) of anyone in this field since the Masters, per RickRunGood.com. He’s been piling up top-15 finishes, and his lack of distance off-the-tee will not be a detriment this week.
$8,000 to $9,000
High Upside: Brian Harman ($8,900 DraftKings | $11,100 FanDuel)
Harman is starting to prove he can contend on any course, as evidenced by his T-19 at Torrey Pines last week. Outside of last week, Harman has gained strokes off the tee in every event since Pebble Beach. That’s even more impressive when you realize he hits the ball only 292 yards on average, 146th on the PGA Tour. He’s playing out of the fairway constantly and has two top-10 finishes in his past three trips to TPC River Highlands.
Safest Option: Charley Hoffman ($8,600 DraftKings | $10,300 FanDuel)
Hoffman has been as solid as they come, making the cut in 13 consecutive events. He’s been one of the best ball-strikers on tour during that stretch, and he has plenty of history at TPC River Highlands. In his past 10 trips, he’s made the cut nine times and has three top-seven finishes.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Bubba Watson ($8,900 DraftKings |$10,400 FanDuel)
When you start getting elite course history like Watson has at TPC River Highlands, everyone takes notice. The ultimate “Bubba Course” will result in inflated ownership and attention for the three-time champion. The concern lies with both his popularity and the fact that he’s lost strokes on approach in four consecutive events.
Pick To Win: Si Woo Kim ($8,500 DraftKings | $9,900 FanDuel)
Si Woo Kim loves Pete Dye designed courses! Since the start of 2015, no golfer has played as well as Kim in as many rounds as him. He’s averaging 1.49 strokes gained per round on Dye courses over 62 rounds. Combine that with his excellent approach play, gaining strokes in eight of his last 10, and that’s the recipe for success this week!
$7,000 to $8,000
High Upside: Doc Redman ($7,600 DraftKings |$9,100 FanDuel)
We are starting to see Redman turn the tide and get back to his 2020 form. He’s gained strokes on approach in four consecutive events for the first time since last summer. He’s also gained strokes putting in five consecutive events for the first time in his career. Now he gets to go back to TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-11 last year.
Safest Option: Talor Gooch ($7,000 DraftKings | $8,900 FanDuel)
Gooch has only missed one cut in his past 12 starts and enters with two consecutive top-20 finishes. He’s one of the better approach players in the $7,000 tier and is gaining strokes in every category except off the tee since the start of 2021.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Emiliano Grillo ($7,300 DraftKings | $9,600 FanDuel)
I’m generally bullish on Grillo, but I am seeing some concerning metrics at the moment. He has lost strokes off the tee in four consecutive events, which per the RickRunGood.com golf database, is the first time since 2015 that he’s done that. That alone is concerning for one of the better ball-strikers on tour, but then you realize that he continues to struggle in the short-game and it leaves me with more questions than answers for Grillo.
Pick To Win: Keegan Bradley ($7,900 DraftKings | $10,500 FanDuel)
The Bradley win is coming! He’s gained strokes putting in six of his past eight starts, an amazing feat for one of the worst putters on tour over the past few years. He continues to absolutely stripe the ball from tee to green, and the native New Englander has two top-eight finishes in his past four trips to this event.
$6,900 and below
High Upside: Keith Mitchell ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,100 FanDuel)
TPC River Highlands has historically benefitted better off-the-tee players, and Mitchell is one of the best drivers in this pricing range. He’s certainly inconsistent, but he’s flashed brilliance a handful of times recently—third at the Wells Fargo Championship and fourth at the Zurich Classic.
Safest Option: David Lipsky ($6,900 DraftKings | $7,900 FanDuel)
Lipsky has been excellent down on the Korn Ferry Tour this year and has already earned his PGA Tour card for next season. We saw him at the Palmetto Championship just a few weeks ago, where he earned an eighth-place finish.
Most Likely To Disappoint: John Pak ($6,400 DraftKings |$7,000 FanDuel)
This will be Pak’s second professional start and he will certainly get more comfortable on the big stage. He lost 7.5 strokes on approach at the Palmetto Championship, which is certainly concerning. Keep a close eye on Pak and see how quickly his game matures on this circuit.
Pick To Win: Satoshi Kodaira ($6,500 DraftKings | $7,000 FanDuel)
There’s a reason Kodaira is this low on the board, but he’s playing well and going to one of the best courses on tour for his game. He’s accurate off the tee and has gained strokes to the field in six consecutive events. He’s gained on approach in four of his past five and has been absolutely scorching with the putter for three starts. That has resulted in three top-20 finishes, and there’s no reason to think he will slow down now.
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Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.