I’m not sure which storyline to start with after storms put an abrupt stop to play as the afternoon wave made the turn on Friday at The Players.
The main story came from off the course as the top player in the world, Jon Rahm, withdrew due to illness before the round. On the course, many lesser-known players are making a name for themselves as Ben Griffin and Chad Ramey were at the top of the leaderboard, fighting off the likes of Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa. Unfortunately for Ramey, the storms didn’t come before his quadruple-bogey on the par-3 17th, which dropped him well out of the lead.
Instead, it is Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Adam Svensson who carry a two-shot advantage into Saturday at TPC Sawgrass. They both have the better half of their final nine holes to play before heading to the third round, leaving a lot of things to be decided — including the cut — on Saturday morning.
I will breakdown and provide some data from the first two days of golf, but it will be largely incomplete for anything related to the third round. There may be some value in the gambling markets, but I have to play it on the safe side a bit and leave some of the usual suspects (Justin Thomas) off the card until I’m sure they are playing more this weekend.
I’m really only interested in taking chances on long shots. The numbers are short on the favorites — Scottie Scheffler and Morikawa — and beyond them you get guys like Hovland and Jason Day, who are done with Round 2. They are also at short odds and I don’t want to get caught holding a short number on guys who may be even further back before they play another hole.
Strokes Gained Explanation
Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer has truly played by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.
Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field.
Every situation in golf is different. Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation.
In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics:
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
- Strokes Gained: Putting
- Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)
In general, SG: Ball Striking and SG: Tee-to-Green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.
You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but are just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.
3 Golfers to Buy for Saturday
This is a course and tournament where I think we can fire at some high quality players coming from behind. The numbers out there for several of the guys who have gotten into the clubhouse have me scratching my head a bit, and that is where I will start my target.
Justin Suh at +10000 at Caesars is the first number that jumps out to me. He was near the top of the leaderboard as he finished his first round on Friday morning and just couldn’t get much going to start Round 2. He put up five bogeys in the opening nine holes of the second round before settling in with four birdies to salvage the round on the back nine.
Unfortunately for Suh, the birdies were accompanied by an ugly double bogey where he putted the ball off the green on the par-4 6th. Still, he finds himself just five shots back of the lead as he sits at 3-under going into the weekend.
The Southern Cal alum has recently started to show the promise that had him in the mix of names alongside Morikawa and Hovland coming out of college. While this would be an enormous stage for him to capture that first win, I’m buying the number for a player gaining strokes on the field in every aspect of his game through two rounds.
A former major winner is the best player in the field in SG: Tee-to-Green through two rounds and he’s listed at +17500 to start the weekend. That is something I would be very interested in as I go for long shots and I’ll dip in on Gary Woodland at that number.
Woodland has been displaying the form that made him a U.S. Open Champion, but he simply hasn’t been able to put it all together enough to contend. That continues to be the case this week as he’s lost more than four shots on the greens in just two days, but this is a course where ball-striking and tee-to-green play typically get rewarded. If he can just find it a bit with the putter, he certainly can cut into the lead and possibly become a factor before Sunday.
I’ll go even deeper for Saturday and take a guy playing with house money in Jordan Spieth. There is no way he should be playing the weekend after the tee shot he hit on his final hole Friday. It was a slice from contact, heading straight toward the pond down the right side of the ninth hole. Lucky for him, a fan’s knee got in the way and deflected the ball right back into the fairway. Instead of dropping to hit his third shot and needing a miracle to save par and a shot at the cut, he fired an approach just above the green-side bunker and did what Spieth does — holed the chip shot for eagle.
It’s certainly a long shot to expect him to win, but he will go out with nothing to lose, knowing he is lucky to even be playing. There is certainly a scenario where he is within a manageable six or so shots going into the third round, and if he can fire up the Saturday Spieth magic again, he can also get in the mix for cheap at +16000.
Strokes Gained Data for All Players Through Friday
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