Hello friends, welcome back after a brief hiatus from the US Open to another installment of Bombs & Values for the 2021 Travelers Championship! This is a really interesting week from a lineup construction standpoint, as there are a slew of viable options in the low-$7K and $6K range on Draft Kings, but at the same time, I’m hesitant to go full Stars & Scrubs given the presumed post-Major, cross-country hangover from guys at the top of the board like DJ, Bryson, Brooks, Casey, and Cantlay. In any case, whenever we’re faced with a short track that levels the playing field off the tee between bombers and fairway finders, there tends to be value to exploit at the bottom of the board, and that’s what we’re looking to do once again with the 6 plays below!
Pricing from Draft Kings
Emiliano Grillo ($7,300)
It’s a weird week on Draft Kings. My 5 favorite plays in the $7K range all happen to be priced at exactly $7,300. I like Emiliano Grillo, Stewart Cink, Brendon Todd, Rickie Fowler, and Chris Kirk for a myriad of different reasons this week, but if I could only pick one guy from that mix to rise above the rest, it’s Emiliano Grillo. Just kidding, it’s Stewart Cink and I really think he’s poised for another T10 run this week, but I’ve already gotten all of my thoughts out on him in the Tournament Preview, so Emiliano Grillo picks up the consolation prize.
I’m narrowing down my player pool this week by looking at great Approach players who have had success on other recent short courses, prioritizing performance at the 2021 RBC Heritage, my #1 comp course to TPC River Highlands. By that logic, after you’ve locked Stewart Cink into your lineup, the next man you’d turn to would have to be Emiliano Grillo. Whether you look back over the last 8, 12, or 24 rounds, Grillo is #1 in this field SG: APP, and he finished T2 at the RBC Heritage earlier this year. He’s never missed the cut in 4 career trips to the Travelers, highlighted by a T19 in 2018, and his putting now seems to have finally shown signs of life for the first time in his career, having gained 1+ strokes putting in 4 of his last 6 starts.
I personally have a policy not to bet Coastal Elite Emiliano Grillo in a land-locked course off of the coast line, but that policy won’t prevent me from pulling trigger in DFS, especially at this price tag, in the hopes of landing another repeat performance to what we saw at the RBC Heritage.
Ryan Moore ($6,800)
If you’re just looking for a low-owned salary saver with a T20 ceiling and a floor right around the cutline, look no further than Ryan Moore. It’s never exciting to play Moore. He’s not flashy, he doesn’t hit the ball anywhere, and he’s rarely ever in contention. But that boring style of knocking it 275 yards down the fairway each hole and hitting greens in regulation has been an effective strategy for Moore seemingly every time he’s teed it up on a short course that levels the playing field for him with the rest of the bombers on Tour. Moore ranks 21st SG: T2G on courses <7,200 yards, 8th SG: T2G on Pete Dye tracks, and 8th SG: TOT at the Travelers. He’s also 16th SG: OTT, 5th in Fairways Gained, and 21st in Good Drives Gained.
While he has not had any dazzling results in 2021, his best finishes over the last year have come on all the comps to TPC River Highlands which value Accuracy OTT. Those results include a T12 at TPC Twin Cities, T26 at Pebble Beach, T35 at TPC Sawgrass, T39 at Innisbrook, and T52 at Harbour Town. Highlighting a T52 finish as a positive may sound desperate, but he gained 6 strokes with his Ball Striking and was poised to fire off one of his best results of the year if not for losing 7 strokes with his short game around those Bermuda greens. TPC Deere Run, which has not been played since 2019, is another top comp course to TPC River Highlands and is the site of Moore’s last PGA win back in 2016.
Ryan Moore putts best on Poa greens, which shines through in his history at the Travelers. In his 7 appearances going back to 2012, Moore has made the cut 5 times, finished T20 4 times, and finished T10 twice. In the two instances where he did not make the weekend, he missed the cut on the number, so at $6,800, he stacks up very well to play for 4 days this week.
Vincent Whaley ($6,400)
Why stop now on Whaley? The hype was stymied a bit after his impressive streak of 8 consecutive T40s came to an end last we saw him at the Palmetto Championship, but $6,400 for a guy with 8 T40s in his last 9 starts still sounds pretty damn good to me!
Whaley is a well-rounded player, ranking 26th in the field SG: TOT over his last 36 rounds. Encouraging for this week, he’s 4th P4: 400-450, 21st in Birdies Gained, and 14th in 3 Putt Avoidance. He profiles as more of a bomber off the tee (#51 Driving Distance) than a Fairway Finder (118th), but with this course requiring less than Driver on several layup holes, that should help him find more fairways this week.
While he’ll be making his debut at the Travelers this week, his recent finishes of T29 at Valspar and T36 at the Honda Classic provide room for optimism that his early success at these comp courses will translate over once again at TPC River Highlands.
Rickie Fowler (+7500)
75/1 odds teeters on the edge of bomb territory, but I snagged Rickie when he opened at 85/1, so to me he still has the feel of a full fledged bomb. We are not supposed to get good numbers on Rickie Fowler. He’s one of the most popular players in golf, he has a devoted following of both hardcore and casual golf fans, and books usually know if they hang a lowball number on him, bettors out there will still be willing to jump on it. I’ve been objectively neutral to Rickie for the last year as he’s gone through this new project to overhaul his swing and equipment, but to his credit, he has finally started to see the dividends pay off. So with signs of vintage Fowler life beginning to show again, I’m ready to hop back on now!
In his last two starts, versus two of the most difficult strength of fields and conditions we’ve seen this season, Rickie has finished T8 at the PGA Championship and T11 at the Memorial. His Approach numbers have not been great over the last 36 rounds, ranking 101st in the field SG: APP, but he’s leaned on his Around The Green strengths (#2) to bail him out of any wayward approaches. In those two most recent appearances at the PGA and Memorial, he’s even started to turn things around with the irons, gaining 1.5+ strokes on approach in each. The driver has been the most inconsistent club in his bag recently, but coming to a course that encourages shorter clubs off the tee should play to Rickie’s advantage this week, considering he already ranks a solid 43rd in the field in Driving Accuracy. Some may question playing Fowler on Poa greens where he ranks 88th in Putting, however Rickie possesses one of the most severe splits of East Coast vs. West coast Poa putting, jumping up to 29th in the field SG: P – East Coast Poa.
The fact that he has made one appearance at this event back in 2013 where he finished T13 is not factored into this endorsement at all, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt. This is a bet on Rickie’s recent performances showing as the start of a trend for more to come, rather than a brief blip. Last week, Rickie watched Jon Rahm win the US Open from his couch on Father’s Day as he learned that he will be expecting his first child soon as well, so the #perspective has never been greater for Fowler.
Chris Kirk (+15000)
Eventually I’m going to get sick of regurgitating great Chris Kirk stats that don’t pan out to actual results on the course later that week, but today is not that day. Kirk should have played well at the Valspar, an event that favors accurate driving and a good short game, and he went on to miss the cut. His MC in his next start at the PGA Championship was predictable, but he then followed that up with another disappointing T69 at the Charles Schwab, where he had greater expectations as a former champions with consistent previous results. But after those three straight duds, he bounced back with a solid T26 at the Memorial, so just like that, I am back on Kirk.
Kirk ranks 9th in the field in Par 4 Scoring, crucial on this week’s Par 70 track which features 12 Par 4s, and is 3rd in P4: 400-450 where most of the Par 4s are funneled to here. He’s also 17th SG: T2G on courses under 7,200 yards, as he’s shown with 2021 finishes of T7 at the RBC Heritage, T25 at the Honda Classic, T16 at the AT&T Pro-Am, T16 at The AmEx, and T2 at the Sony Open. Kirk has been knocking on the door all year at TPC River Highlands comp courses, so I’m not giving up just yet on the Kirk comeback train.
Will Gordon (+25000)
As far as 250/1 bombs go, there is plenty to like about Will Gordon’s prospects this week to contend at the Travelers Championship. The course is designed to be played out of the fairway and favor accurate drivers off the tee, but that hasn’t stopped bombers like Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, and Bryson DeChambeau from finding success here anyway, and it certainly didn’t stop Will Gordon from contending here either when he fired off a T3 finish in his first career Travelers appearance last year. Gordon ranks #2 in the field in Driving Distance, and pairs that with a very appealing combination of #16 in GIRs Gained. That hasn’t manifested into any notable recent results, but that’s only the fault of his short game, which ranks 144th. Fortunately for Gordon backers this week, Poa is essentially the only surface he’s capable of putting well on. He gained 7 strokes putting earlier this year on Poa at the Farmers Insurance Open, the most of his career, and had the second best putting performance of his career on these grounds when he was last here in 2020, gaining 4.7 strokes on the greens. While he’s not known for his Approach game, he is coming off of a career best 8.9 strokes gained on Approach last we saw him at the Palmetto Championship, where he went on to finish T14, his best finish of the season. At 250/1, Gordon is in a great position to build on the hot recent form and course history.