2020 U.S. Open Round 4 Betting Guide: Finding Value Using Strokes Gained Data

2020 U.S. Open Round 4 Betting Guide: Finding Value Using Strokes Gained Data article feature image
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Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Bryson DeChambeau.

  • Matthew Wolff holds the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
  • The 21-year-old has a number of players on his trail, however, highlighted by Bryson DeChambeau.
  • Chris Murphy identifies value heading into the tournament's final round by using strokes gained data.

It was another exciting day at Winged Foot Golf Club, where we saw some better scores mixed in with continued carnage.

Overnight leader Patrick Reed fell, as his missed fairways caught up with him leading to a 43 on his inward nine, and a 7-over 77 on the day.

New leader Matthew Wolff was on the other end of the spectrum, firing a 5-under 65 on moving day, matching the low score of this year’s U.S. Open. He will take a two-shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau into Sunday after DeChambeau scrambled his way to an even-par round despite being off his game for most of the day.

Louis Oosthuizen will start the day four shots back and will be joined in the penultimate group by Hideki Matsuyama, who is even par on the tournament and five shots behind. Harris English and Xander Schauffele are tied with Matsuyama and will make up the third-to-last pairing.

Overall, there were six rounds under par on Saturday, as there were a few more birdie opportunities on the course with lighter winds. It looks like a similar weather day for Sunday’s final round, but the USGA will undoubtedly tuck the pins and look to dry out the greens to make it tough on these players. The added pressure of Sunday at a major championship will also play a part as all six players in the final three groups are seeking their first major victory.

Wolff continued the three-day trend as the best tee-to-green player, posting the best score. We will continue to seek that player heading into Sunday by utilizing the strokes gained data from the week.

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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 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 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.

Read more about Strokes Gained here.

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3 Golfers to Buy in Round 4

I was skeptical coming into the week that the bomb-and-gauge strategy of DeChambeau would work at a course like Winged Foot. Through three rounds, he has proven me wrong and did so in impressive fashion on Saturday.

DeChambeau was all over the map throughout his front nine in the third round, bogeying his first two holes and scrambling on a number of others. He made the turn at one-over on the day but kept himself in the tournament with some important par saves. He finally found a couple of back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17 before bogeying 18 to shoot par.

Bryson obviously didn’t have his best stuff despite gaining more than 4.5 strokes tee-to-green, including more than two ball-striking. He really stood out around the green, where he gained 2.38 strokes on the field. DeChambeau’s putter was the area that let him down, as he lost nearly a stroke on the field putting. He’s known as a guy that bombs the ball, but he’s also become one of the best putters on tour, ranking 10th in that category last season.

I think Bryson puts it all together on Sunday and wins his first major. He has the added bonus of having chased Wolff from three shots back on Sunday at the Rocket Mortgage in July, which will be in the back of both players’ minds.

Rory McIlroy turned it around on Saturday after an ugly 76 in Round 2, which dropped him to eight shots back of the lead. He posted one of the best rounds of the day and climbed back into seventh at 1-over par. He will start the round six shots behind, but if the leaders stumble, he may be the man there to take advantage.

Rory gained strokes across all metrics in Round 3 on his way to a 2-under 68. He gained more than a stroke on approach and around the green while adding another .73 off the tee. His putter was also hot, gaining 2.36 on the greens, as he made some long putts to keep his positive momentum going. I would generally have concern for that type of putting day, but he has gained strokes with the flat stick in all three rounds thus far, showing he is simply comfortably on these greens.

I’m firing up Rory to make a run on Sunday, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him holding the trophy as he chases a group of guys that have yet to get it done on this stage.

Thomas Pieters has been a ball-striking machine all week at the U.S. Open. He continued it on Saturday with the second-best tee-to-green day in the field. The Belgian has always been known as a player who can smash the ball, but just has trouble getting it in the hole. That certainly held true in Round 3, as he gained 5.28 strokes tee-to-green but nearly gave them all back with 4.73 strokes lost on the greens.

This is a buy in which you just simply hope the guy finds something on the greens on Sunday. He’s sitting in 11th place with room to move up and make an impact if he can just find a hot putter for 18 holes. I’m buying Pieters because if he can even be average on the greens, he’ll have a chance to complete a really solid round.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

Harris English is the first player who stands out as a Sunday fade from a strokes gained perspective. He lost 1.44 strokes with his approaches on Saturday, causing a slight overall loss tee-to-green.

The former Georgia Bulldog salvaged a 2-over round on Saturday by gaining more than a stroke and a half with his putter. He heads into the final round tied for fourth place, but without his irons, it’ll be tough to hold that position.

It was a great day for Zach Johnson, as he soared up 20 spots on the leaderboard on Saturday with a 2-under 68. He heads into Sunday in a tie for eighth, seven shots behind the lead.

Johnson had a great day in Round 3, racking up just one bogey, a birdie and an eagle. His eagle was a hole out on the Par 5 ninth, where he knocked it in from 84 yards out. Add to it that he gained just short of 3.5 strokes putting, and you begin to see how that round came together.

My concern with ZJ is that he hit just six fairways on the day and only 10 greens in regulation. Through three rounds, he’s losing strokes ball-striking to the field. He again lost strokes off the tee on Saturday, as he’s shorter than the average player with his driver, and if he isn’t finding fairways on top of that, he will really struggle. I’m taking a fade of the two-time major winner going into Sunday. I think his poor ball-striking will catch up with him.

Everything we look at from a strokes gained perspective says that Webb Simpson is the easy fade for Sunday. He was simply awful with his ball-striking on Saturday, losing more than three strokes to the field, including more than two strokes with his irons. I simply can’t do it, though, because I expect that he will bounce back with his irons. It’s the strength of his game, and if he keeps any semblance of that short game, he would quickly become one of the best buys on the board.

I will instead drop down to the second-best round of the day posted by Alex Noren. He, too, lost strokes ball-striking on the day, yet posted a 3-under 67. He had a white-hot putter throughout the day, gaining 6.24 (!!) strokes on the greens. He’s in the same position as Webb, tied for 11th. But he appears to be the golfer more likely to fall by the wayside on Sunday.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 3