Credit: USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Hideki Matsuyama
Another major, another scorching start from Brooks Koepka, who shot a 7-under 63 and captured a 1-shot overnight lead.
Koepka is the clear favorite to take down his fourth major championship, but where’s the best betting value on Friday specifically?
Our golf experts dig into four of their favorite bets for Round 2.
Note: The three matchups below start at 8:13 a.m. ET, 12:43 p.m., 1:27 p.m. and 1:38 p.m. ET on Friday
Dr. Lou Riccio: Jason Day (+130) over Rory McIlroy
8:13 a.m. ET
McIlroy may have led the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee on Thursday, but thanks to 36 putts, he shot 2-over, nine off Koepka’s lead. Jason Day looked more sharp around the green, where he usually flourishes, and made a number of birdies coming in. My model gives Day the slight edge for Round 2, so you’re getting value at plus money here.
Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia’s Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA’s handicap research team for three decades. More of his predictive analysis can be found over at Golf Digest.
Bryan Mears: Byeong-Hun An (-140) over Andrew Putnam
12:43 p.m. ET
An finished with -0.94 strokes gained on the day, but that understates his game. He gained strokes with his driver and approach shots, which is key at Bethpage; he was near the top of the field with 2.64 Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. The issue? He lost 3.58 strokes putting — the fourth-worst mark of the day.
Putnam, meanwhile, finished with the exact same total Strokes Gained mark on the day (-0.94), but he did he almost solely with the short stick. He lost strokes in every other facet, finishing with -2.93 SG: Tee-to-Green.
(By the way, if you’re interested in seeing every player’s complete strokes-gained breakdown, check out the chart I put together at the bottom of this article.)
An had the superior outlook entering the tournament, and he has a stark distance advantage, which should set him up for better looks in Round 2 yet again. Maybe he’ll actually convert those putts this time. I’ll fade the hot putter here and bet on the guy who is striking the ball better with his other clubs.
Joshua Perry: Russell Knox (-105) over Haotong Li
1:27 p.m. ET
Knox hit the ball pretty well on Thursday, particularly on his approach shots, where he ranked sixth in the field on Thursday.
Li, on the other hand, was 106th from tee to green in the opening round and only gained ground with the putter. Entering the week, he’d lost strokes on poa greens, so it’s more likely that putting advantage fades before the out-of-form Li’s ball-striking returns.
Justin Bailey: Hideki Matsuyama (-110) over Francesco Molinari
1:38 p.m. ET
Molinari wasn’t great with his driver on Thursday, ranking 132nd in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and 69th in fairways gained, per Fantasy National. Meanwhile, Deki’s tee game was on point, ranking 18th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and sixth in fairways gained.
Granted, Deki wasn’t perfect on Thursday — he sat at +3 at one point — but he fought back to even-par and finished the day ranked 27th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 17th in Total Strokes Gained, while Molinari finished 85th and 51st, respectively.
We saw how brutal the rough could be on these golfers, and if Molinari is sending his tee shots into the primary cut, it could be difficult for him to keep up with Deki.