2022 PLAYERS Championship Best Bets for Monday: Berger and Molinari in Position to Push Leaders
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Daniel Berger
The close of the 2022 Players Championship is finally in sight as the final group in Round 3 was stopped just as they were finishing their opening nine holes. They will look to finish their back nine to start the morning on Monday before the groups are realigned for the final round.
While we can see the end of what has turned into a marathon event, it doesn’t really feel like we have any clearer of a view of who will be the champion.
The tournament is wide open with one and a half rounds to go as thirty-one players are within five shots of the lead held by Anirban Lahiri. He was stopped in his round shortly after birdieing the 11th hole and will head into the exciting stretch of the back nine at TPC Sawgrass when he comes back on the course on Monday.
Lahiri is being chased by first round leader Tom Hoge and Harold Varner III who are together in the final group for Round 3. They’re just one shot back at 8-under, with names like Paul Casey, Sam Burns, and Sebastian Munoz another shot back of them. Munoz may be the player most disappointed by the stoppage as he was rolling with a bogey-free, 6-under round through fourteen holes.
There is so much that can happen over these final twenty-seven holes as each of the final groups have to navigate the 17th and 18th holes twice on Monday. As Munoz has shown, there are also some low scores available for a player to come from behind and surprise the leaders. Let’s take a look at the strokes gained data through two and a half rounds at TPC Sawgrass to see if we can find the winner before the final round.
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.
Daniel Berger +1500 (FanDuel)
I was torn with my pick near the top as DataGolf tells us that the best betting value is with Tom Hoge who they project at better than 16% win probability. He is listed out to +800 on some books, implying an 11% win probability. Hoge certainly makes for good value and has been the most consistent player this week. I instead am headed for name value with Daniel Berger.
Berger was in the bad draw this week and has not had his best stuff through two and a half rounds. He was one player who, from a ball striking perspective, was likely happy with the stoppage in play as his short game has carried him to his position just three shots short of the lead.
I expect Berger’s elite ball striking to bounce back on Monday, and if he can get it going to close out the third round, he will be ready to pounce in the final round. We know he is hungry after his collapse a few weeks ago at the Honda Classic, and he is right there once again in position for what would be the biggest win of his career.
Francesco Molinari +3600 (FanDuel)
Normally in this spot I would stand strong with my prior night’s play in contention, which this week is Paul Casey. I still love the opportunity for the Englishman to come through with a win, but with so many holes to play on this course, we are better off spreading our exposure a bit. I’ll instead go to Francesco Molinari at +3600 going into Monday.
He has just birdied the 6th hole and will have the tough stretch of the 7th and 8th to navigate in his round. If he can make it through those at even par or better, the 9th was a birdie hole in its set up on Sunday. After already playing the back nine to begin his third round, this could give him the chance to post a number at six or seven under par while the rest of the leaders have to navigate the craziness of the back nine.
We know Molinari can win on the biggest stage, even if it’s been a few years since he did it, and that is something we can’t say about much of the top of this leaderboard. There is very little win equity ahead of Molinari, which is what really has me interested in his longer value heading into the final day.
Kevin Streelman +12000 (FanDuel)
One player whom I like for some longshot value is Kevin Streelman. If I’m being honest, I had no clue he even made the weekend until I saw his name near the top of the stats when I started looking tonight. He just simply wasn’t on my radar, and I don’t remember seeing him on coverage at all, but there he is at 4-under and five shots back.
He has also hit his tee shot to the Par 3 3rd and will start his day with a birdie putt from seven and a half feet. If he can hole that putt, he will climb to T11 and be right in the mix for this event.
On the stat side, Streelman sticks out in the traditional data. He is the best in the field in hitting fairways this week, only missing five so far. He is also 8th in greens in regulation, both of which combine to make him a dangerous player to contend down the stretch at TPC Sawgrass. I don’t mind putting a little lunch money on Streelman at +12000 for an improbable win on Monday, but if I see some books bring out Top 10 odds, that will be my main target.