DFS GPP Pivot Plays | Travelers Championship 2022
The Pivot Point series focuses on finding the players that will give you the ownership leverage to take down the biggest GPP contests!
Welcome back, folks! It's been a few weeks since I've provided you with a Pivot Point, so I apologize for that. But, we back! I'm not going to provide the results that I normally would, because the results from the Memorial probably wouldn't mean much to you right now.
I do have to say, I'm pretty bitter I missed on the U.S. Open, but I was dealing with a bunch of work stuff, then personal things, and now I have my mind back on golf.
Before I get started, I do want to point out that while the other Tour is making a strong push, and grabbing some fairly noteworthy guys, the last two weeks on the PGA Tour have been phenomenal. The Rory-JT-Finau battle in Canada was spectacular. Then, we follow that up with a battle between Fitzpatrick-Zalatoris-Scheffler-Rahm-McIlroy-Morikawa-Matsuyama was absolutely incredible.
The Country Club NEEDS to be put into rotation because in roughly 20-25 years I've been watching U.S. Opens, that was my favorite track. Awesome viewing, very difficult, and clearly brought the cream to the top.
Alright, enough blabbing. Let's get into it!
DraftKings GPP Pivot Plays for the 2022 Travelers Championship
Xander Schauffele ($10,000) | ~11.0%
I'll be honest; I hate playing Xander Schauffele. He's always chalky, and he doesn't win (unless it's a no-cut event, or the Olympics). However, and a big however, he stood out to me in two big ways this week when I ran my model.
With TPC River Highlands being on the shorter side (playing under 7,000 yards), I put some more emphasis on shorter, plotter style courses. I put some weight on history at Harbor Town, Colonial, and Sedgefield. Schauffele had very little history on any of the courses, yet still managed to come inside the top-10 in my model. His appearance in the top of the model was strictly based on recent form, and more specifically, approach play and ability to score on short tracks.
Then, when I saw he was projected to be the lowest owned player over $9.2k, it was a no-brainer for me. I do believe $10k is a steep price for a guy that doesn't win, but that may be the best time to play Xander Schauffele. We know he's got the game to win, and he's been close hundreds of times (sure feels like it), but I think this may actually be the week.
He's playing really well right now. He has four straight top-18 finishes, and has gained at least 4 strokes on approach in all four. We are going to see some difficult rough this week, as they are planning to play it at 4", which is much longer than the guys generally see on a weekly basis. Schauffele is, by far, the most efficient at finding fairways among the guys over $10k in the last 36 rounds played.
Plus on top of all that, the PGA Tour has announced more no-cut, high purse events on the horizon which could help light a competitive fire under Xander's you-know-what and lead him to a much needed victory this week.
Denny McCarthy ($8,300) | ~6.5%
I thought McCarthy was going to be a popular play this week on a short course, following an excellent performance last week at The Country Club. He's back in his rightful place as the #1 putter in this field in the last 12 rounds. So why aren't people planning to play him?
I'm not sure if I'm missing something because he graded out beautifully in my model; the course style fits, and the recent form is excellent. He has back-to-back top-7 finishes against some of the more difficult fields of the year in the U.S. Open and the Memorial. Beyond that, he's made 11 straight cuts going back to the Honda in February. He's done it primarily losing strokes off the tee in almost every single one of those events.
This is a week where the off the tee game will be heavily weighted on the accuracy side, rather than the distance. That bodes well for McCarthy who averages just 293 yards off the tee, but hits 64% of his fairways. Additionally, he's 8th in this field in fairways gained on courses under 7,200 yards. With his fairway finding ability, and elite putting, he can continue mediocre iron play and still put himself right back in contention this week. Last stat - he's 9th in this field in strokes gained total on courses under 7,200 yards. This is the type of track where Denny will find his first victory; why not this week?
Russell Knox ($6,900) | ~3.0%
Russell Knox was the most consistent across the board in the stats I weighed in my model. Outside of putting (obviously), he was in the top-30 in the field in 6 of the other 7 stats I weighed, with the seventh being 47th in strokes gained approach. While many may look at this as a negative, I see it the other way around.
I would have to assume that the DFS masses are avoiding Knox because if he's not hitting his irons well, what else can he do? I see it as he's doing other things at his baseline, so if his irons just get back to normal, he's an extreme value at 3% on a course that should fit him very well. He has excellent course history at the three tracks I mentioned above and has good course history here as well. He's missed the cut here the last two seasons, however, prior to that, he made 6 straight cuts at TPC River Highlands, including a victory in 2016.
Going back to 2016, which includes the two missed cuts in 2020/2021, Knox has gained a total of 3.3 strokes on the greens here. I haven't done the math at all the other courses he plays annually, but knowing his game, these greens have to be best he putts on. That has to count for something, right? We're looking for an edge, and that just might be the edge we need to ship one of these contests.