2021 TOUR Championship Final Round Buys & Fades: Patrick Cantlay is the Pick to Win FedExCup Playoffs

2021 TOUR Championship Final Round Buys & Fades: Patrick Cantlay is the Pick to Win FedExCup Playoffs article feature image
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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Cantlay.

We are heading into the final round of the last tournament of the season, and it will start with the same two-shot advantage for Patrick Cantlay that he had on Thursday. He was able to get a shot back over Jon Rahm on Saturday, and he will look to close out the year with a fourth win and a cool $15,000,000.

Cantlay did it once again with a hot putter, gaining 2.73 shots on the field with the flat stick. He was able to post another 3-under round to grow the lead back to two shots over Rahm who got in at 2-under on the day. Justin Thomas is the next closest to the leaders after he tied for the low round of Saturday with a 5-under 65. He will start Sunday’s final round five shots back and seems to be the only other on the fringe of having a shot to take down the title.

Let’s take one last look this season at the strokes gained data and pick out our winner of the TOUR Championship at East Lake.

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Strokes Gained Explanation

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is 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, ball-striking and 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 just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 4

I am taking the easy way out with my pick to win on Sunday as it is hard at this stage to see Patrick Cantlay falter and lose this week. He has been extremely solid throughout the week, and even as he lost strokes to the field on approach on Saturday, he made it up with a strong putter.

Cantlay has definitely benefitted from the 10-under start he got before he hit his first tee shot on Thursday, but he has only grown that number from there. He ranks second in the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green on the week, and he is gaining more than a stroke and a half per round with his ball-striking at East Lake. I mentioned the .90 strokes he lost to the field with his irons on Saturday, but I would be surprised if he doesn’t bounce back with his approach in the final round. The best number I see is -120 on DraftKings, and while it never feels great to pay juice, he is the right buy on Sunday.

Justin Thomas is the player I’ve been targeting all week as I think he is close to breaking through, and he is finally putting it together across multiple rounds. Unfortunately for JT, the starting deficit has proven difficult to overcome with the way Cantlay is playing, and he will need to go low and get a good bit of help to really get in the mix on Sunday.

I’m not buying JT to come through with the win, though he is the only other player outside of the final group I would consider. Instead, I am buying JT in all other markets, especially in matchups and DFS Sunday Showdown.

We never know what we are going to get out of Sergio Garcia on the greens, but his play tee to green has been fantastic during the playoffs. I have no doubt that he has some extra fire and motivation to work his way onto the Ryder Cup team for Europe later this month, and I think that carries into Sunday.

Sergio was the second best player in the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green on Saturday, gaining nearly three shots on the field. He gained 3.28 ball-striking but lost a bit back around the green. I expect the Spaniard to come out targeting a top-10 finish this week to make one final push for that Ryder Cup squad, and that’s the exact market I like for him. He will start Sunday two shots outside of the top 10, which gives us good value at +300 on DraftKings.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4

My buy on Cantlay is naturally a fade of Jon Rahm, and I think there is merit to that too. He has lost strokes on approach in back-to-back rounds, totaling 2.47 shots lost during the last 36 holes. He had similar issues over the weekend last week, and it seems he is looking for it a bit on approach.

It never feels great to fade the No. 1 player in the world, but I think it’s a steep mountain for him to climb on Sunday. He could get in a situation where Cantlay stretches the lead and forces him to press it, which could turn ugly over his final round.

The player that fits our traditional mold for a fade is definitely Abraham Ancer. He matched JT with that 5-under 65 on Saturday, but the way he did it makes him a fade across the board. He gained a crazy good 4.25 shots on the greens, seemingly dropping every putt he hit.

My issue with Ancer is that Saturday’s round was his second of three losing strokes on approach. He has been merely average with his ball-striking all week, and the way he plays, he has to be better than that to find a high finish. I expect we will see him fall some on Sunday if he doesn’t find his game on the range before the round.

I thought we were in for a strong round from Louis Oosthuizen on Saturday, and it certainly started that way, but then the wheels fell off. Louis birdied three of his first four holes, but later in the round he had a stretch of five bogies in eight holes. His biggest issue appeared to be finding the short grass off the tee, and if he can’t straighten that out he will be in for a long final 18 on Sunday.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 3

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