PGA Championship Round 4 Betting Picks & Tips Using Strokes Gained: Dustin Johnson’s Odds Are Too Short
Photo credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Dustin Johnson
“Moving Day” lived up to its name at the PGA Championship, as several guys at the top of the leaderboard entering the weekend — most notably, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day and Haotong Li — were surpassed by numerous golfers who put up excellent rounds to move into contention.
Dustin Johnson is now the solo leader despite sitting four back entering today. He’s one up on two youngsters in Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Champ, and two ahead of Collin Morikawa, Paul Casey and Koepka.
The storylines write themselves tomorrow: Of the 12 golfers within three strokes, only four of them have won a major before (DJ, Brooks, Day and Justin Rose). Will any of the youngsters — Scheffler, Champ, Morikawa or Bryson DeChambeau — steal one? What about someone like Casey, who at 43 is one of the most accomplished golfers to never win one?
What an upcoming Sunday. Anyway, let’s dive into Saturday’s data and see if we can find any value in the betting and DFS markets.
But first, a quick note on Strokes Gained, which I’ll mention frequently in this article.
Strokes Gained Explanation
Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is truly playing 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 volatile.
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
Let’s start off with this important note: I’m looking to find some value, no matter the player or the odds, which often means looking a little farther down the board. DJ is the most likely to win this tournament at this point — the problem is that he’s priced at +275 on DraftKings; that’s a high price to pay for having just a one-stroke lead against a stacked leaderboard.
What makes it tougher is how much movement we’ve seen at this course all week long. Sure, it’s easy to have recency bias and think DJ can just replicate what we saw today — but that thinking would have led to some poor bets on Saturday, as so many guys moved up to get into contention. Who’s to say we won’t see a similar story Sunday?
Finally, it’s important to remember that one round of golf is an incredibly small sample; there’s a lot of luck involved. It’s quite difficult to predict performance over just 18 holes, but alas that’s what we’ll try to do anyway.
And that leads me to three guys I’m tentatively buying entering Sunday: Morikawa (+900, $10 bet would profit $90), Casey (+1400) and Tommy Fleetwood (+2000). Are they likely to win? No. Are their odds to win lower than what they should be? Potentially so. That’s the key.
These guys are all world-class ball-strikers and have proven in their careers to be able to consistently put balls in play both off the tee and onto greens to give themselves chances for birdies. What more can you ask for than that, especially with some of the crazy putting performances we’ve seen on a random day?
Morikawa was one of those guys who putted really well on Saturday, but the rest of the game is just fine, too. He’s been fairly average off the tee and around-the-green so far this week, but his bread and butter — the approach game — has been a solid positive. If he’s able to be more consistent with the driver Sunday, he’ll have as many good birdie chances as anyone.
Casey actually leads the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green this week but just hasn’t been able to find the putting groove needed. He’s been steady each round and has shown he can go low on a Sunday before. Most people will write him off because he’s never won the big one before — why not this week?
And finally, if you want to dip down a little farther and really take a swing at someone who needs to go low to win, I like Fleetwood and Xander Schauffele (+2800, $10 bet would profit $280), both of whom are world-class golfers.
Xander actually led all the contenders in SG: Tee-to-Green on Saturday but had a miserable round putting. Fleetwood, meanwhile, was fairly average all around, but he’s an ideal candidate to finally figure out this course given his fit. He’s one of the better drivers in the world — combining distance and accuracy — and if he gets hot there, he can definitely put up a 5-under to be right there.
One cool note for betting tomorrow: DraftKings is offering a 30% profit boost on all golf bets, which means you can really get some nice +EV wagers in.
How that works: Say you bet Fleetwood at 14/1; if that bet wins, you’d get 30% more, essentially turning that +1400 bet into a +1820 one. Not bad.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4
It’s hard to really confidently fade any golfer that’s within 4-5 strokes, to be honest. To really oversimplify it (although I do believe this): The winner is going to come from that 15-ish group of golfers in contention, and it’s likely going to be whoever gets the hottest with the short stick.
And predicting putting is quite a challenge.
It’s a really weird leaderboard entering Sunday, partly because of the new names in contention, but also because of how they played Saturday.
DJ (+275 odds to win, $10 bet would profit $27.50) essentially only did damage with the putter; will he keep that up? Maybe. Scheffler (+900) really only gained strokes chipping; is that sustainable? Bryson (+1200) made approximately 1,000 feet of putts, including a ridiculous 95-footer. How can you bet on that happening again?
The problem, of course, is that DJ can win even if his putting regresses. So can Bryson. So can Morikawa. Again, almost the entire leaderboard is legitimately in contention to win; it’s difficult to confidently fade any of those top guys.
But press on we will. The three guys I’m fine passing on — maybe that’s a better term than “fading” — are Scheffler, Bryson and Rose.
I listed the big reason for the former two above: They gained a stupid 4.92 and 5.13 strokes, respectively, with their putters on Saturday, which almost certainly won’t happen again. And more importantly, overall on the week, they’ve largely been mediocre with the rest of their games. Sure, they can win, but to do so they’ll have to do the unthinkable (another all-time putting performance) or turn around parts of their games that haven’t been there all week. I’ll pass.
Among the guys within four strokes, three golfers lost strokes tee-to-green Saturday: Bryson, Haotong Li and Rose. The latter just hasn’t been consistent enough off the tee, which will be critical Sunday, to really compete. Rose obviously has the talent and pedigree, but I don’t trust that part this week.
Alright, enough talk. Here’s the data for all players for Saturday.
Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 3
(Note: The graph below is interactive. Click/hover to see data.)