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2021 3M Open Round 3 Buys & Fades: Fowler, Wolff, and Finau Present Value at TPC Twin Cities

2021 3M Open Round 3 Buys & Fades: Fowler, Wolff, and Finau Present Value at TPC Twin Cities article feature image

David Berding/Getty Images. Pictured: Rickie Fowler.

There were plenty of interesting storylines on Friday at the 3M Open, and possibly none were bigger than World No. 2 Dustin Johnson missing the cut. He had seemingly gotten himself into contention through his opening eight holes before the wheels came off as he bogeyed four of his final eleven to miss the cut by two strokes.

The top of leaderboard was just as interesting as popular first-round co-leader Rickie Fowler reverted back to some of his struggles in a 2-over round of his own. He fell twenty-five spots back to a tie for 26th, but he still remains just five shots back of the lead shared by Adam Hadwin and Ryan Armour.

Hadwin was my top pick in this column yesterday, and he played even better than I expected with a bogey-free 65. He would be matched later in the day by Ryan Armour, and those two will tee off alongside Bo Hoag in the final threesome tomorrow. Hoag is tied with three others at 9-under, just one short of the lead.

Winds kept the scoring in check overall on the day at TPC Twin Cities as the average score was less than a half-stroke under par for the second round. Still, five players shot 65 or better and were able to make a move on the leaderboard.

The winds are supposed to be down on Saturday after an overnight storm moves out, which is the reason for threesomes in the third round. It should be a great day for scoring as the course will get softer with added rain. We will look to see if we can find the players primed to take advantage of those conditions on Saturday.

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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.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 3

Now that we have one of the leaders in Hadwin in the fold, I don’t have a lot of interest in the names at the top. I will instead look to pepper the middle of the pack, as everyone playing the weekend is within eight strokes of the lead and legitimately one strong round from contention.

The first number that sticks out to me is with Rickie Fowler. He got his bad round out of the way early on Friday as he was in position but couldn’t make any putts early in the day, before eventually losing his swing a bit. I would expect he comes back with a new focus, likely after some night work on the range and will look to get in the mix again. There really isn’t anyone to be wary of at the top of the leaderboard, which makes Fowler an interesting add at +6600 going into Saturday.

My second buy here is with the 2019 winner of this event, Matthew Wolff. He seemed to be all over the map with his play early on Friday, but he really reigned it in down the stretch. Wolff was able to close out the day with another 2-under round to get within six of the lead.

One of the areas I am most encouraged by for Wolff is his iron play, where he gained 1.37 shots on approach. He was able to put himself in the mix despite not having the best area of his game: off the tee. I expect we will see the former Oklahoma State Cowboy bounce back with a low round on Saturday and work himself into the conversation at +8000 before the end of the day on Sunday.

If I’m taking Rickie in this spot, you know I won’t be afraid to go to Tony Finau at +7000. He is at 3-under and seven shots back, but unlike Fowler, he will have some momentum building into the weekend. Finau seemed to find his swing on Friday as he posted a 4-under round of 67. He gained more than three strokes on the field with his ball-striking and was rolling it well on the greens too.

I don’t expect either of these first two guys to be able to get into position to be a leader into Sunday, but frankly, I don’t want them to have that pressure either. They both have the ability to put a solid round together on moving day to be within a couple of the lead and will be able to play a pressure free, attacking final round which is how they will eventually break through again.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

I would love to see the old Gary Woodland return to the TOUR, but it has been a tough go for him this season outside of a couple of top-10 finishes. The 2019 U.S. Open champion will see the weekend for just the second time in his last five events as he is just three shots back of the leaders going into the third round.

He did it with a great 5-under round on Friday, but looking closer it was a little too putter-heavy to trust the rest of the way. Woodland gained less than a stroke on the field tee to green for the day, as he was just slightly better than field average on approach.

Looking back to his opening round, it was a similar story for him where he lost strokes to the field in both ball-striking metrics. This week may be a sign of things turning around for Woodland, but I just don’t see him staying on the first page of the leaderboard until he finds his ball-striking.

It’s only been two rounds, but I am already doubling down on the fade for Cameron Tringale. I know he ranks 21st on TOUR this season with his putter, but he can’t continue to contend to win this tournament losing strokes with his irons. He has now lost more than two strokes to the field on approach through two rounds at TPC Twin Cities, but is gaining about six strokes on and around the greens. I’ll fade that trend continuing this weekend as I expect to see Tringale fall off from his current spot within the top 10.

My final fade heading into moving day at the 3M Open is with David Lingmerth. We have only seen Lingmerth in seven TOUR events prior to this week, and the three he made the cut in were alternate tournaments. He was a solid player at one time, but it has been a long time since he has truly been in contention on TOUR.

Lingmerth will start the third round just four shots behind the leaders as he posted a 3-under 68 to move into the top 10. His strokes gained numbers actually look pretty good, but it’s impossible to trust those going into the weekend, especially as the pressure begins to rise. It would certainly make for quite a story if he was somehow in the mix on Sunday, but I’ll make my play against that playing out.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 2

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