2021 3M Open Round 4 Buys & Fades: Maverick McNealy Leads Top Options at TPC Twin Cities

2021 3M Open Round 4 Buys & Fades: Maverick McNealy Leads Top Options at TPC Twin Cities article feature image

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Maverick McNealy.

It's been a remarkable opening three rounds at the 3M Open, with many players struggling to navigate the final few holes of the TPC Twin Cities layout.

In the first three days of action, we saw player after player take the lead, only to stumble around the tricky par 5 and Saturday was much of the same. Rickie Fowler was the first notable victim, with him putting together a great third round before a triple bogey on his final hole effectively ended his title run.

Later, players in contention like Adam Hadwin and Bo Hoag stumbled down the stretch, playing each of the last two in multiple shots over par.

Cameron Tringale was able to survive the final few holes in even par to maintain his lead at 12 under going into Sunday's round. He will be paired with Gary Woodland, who will start just one shot back. Maverick McNealy is also at 11 under for the week, while there are eight players two shots back of Tringale.

The leaderboard is stacked up, with 21 players all within four shots. I expect we'll see a number of guys with a chance, and it might be a low round from someone even further back that ultimately sets the pace. The strokes gained data from Round 3 will help us to find some players that may be trending towards a strong finish.

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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 4

The player that has been the steadiest in his game across the entire week is McNealy. He ranks third through three rounds in strokes gained tee to green, plus he's gaining strokes across all metrics of his game.

McNealy had to navigate through his third round without his best form in ball striking, as his .03 strokes gained on approach was his worst iron play of the week. He was able to work through that by having a great day around the greens, and still post a 3-under round.

I expect he will bounce back with his ball striking game. And if the best club in his bag — the putter — gets hot, he will be in position for his first PGA TOUR win. He also gets the advantage of avoiding the pressure of that final group, which might help play into his hands and give him value at +650 on DraftKings to be the 3M winner.

In looking for value on the betting board, Brian Stuard is the one that stands out the most. He has gained more than five shots on approach over his last two rounds and was a solid putter from being in one of the final groups.

Stuard was a winner on TOUR in 2016, which is more than many of these contenders can say going into the final round. He's also far enough back that he might not feel the same pressure of those final groups going out. I love the value we get at +4100 on FanDuel for Stuard to post a number from three shots back and make the others beat him.

I already made a buy going into third round on Matthew Wolff. Thankfully, he finally put things together to salvage a 3-under round with four birdies in his last seven holes. My concern is obviously if he might be just a bit too far back, but there's certainly a possibility of an 8-under type effort on this course.

If I am taking anyone to go really low, he would be that player as he will be one to come out attacking the course and looking to score. He'll be a favorite play of mine in many different aspects, and if you aren't in already, I do see a path for him at+8000 on BetMGM.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4

In picking McNealy to win, it's inherently a fade of the final pairing. Those players certainly could get it done, but I just can't buy into Tringale handling the pressure that will come over him down the stretch as he seeks his first TOUR win in 12 years as a professional.

He has been a great surprise this season, consistently posting solid finishes, but playing as the leader will be a fairly new experience for him. I don't have the stats or data to back up my third consecutive fade on Tringale, as he did find his irons on Saturday, gaining more than two strokes on the field with his approach. My fade is based on the magnitude of the moment for him, plus I really think this tournament will be won by someone coming from behind.

The player with the most pedigree in contention is undoubtedly Woodland. The 2019 U.S. Open champion has four career wins, including that major championship. Still, he's also difficult to trust and started to show some nerves in the third round.

Woodland doubled the first hole, but quickly bounced back with three birdies in a row. He would add a few more before finishing his round. Then, he somehow managed to miss the water on 18 by staying dry to the right side of the lake. Woodland then carried the full hazard and green, eventually scrambling for par and maintaining his position in the final pairing.

While Saturday was a sign of things moving in the right direction with his ball striking, I'm not quite ready to jump in at short odds on a course that can punish you if anything is off and he becomes a fade for me under this pressure.

Ryan Armour completely lost everything he had going on Saturday. It might have been simply the pressure of the final group, but he dropped 2.28 strokes to the field tee to green on Moving Day after having gained more than 2.5 strokes in that category in each of his first two rounds.

Armour's putter was able to save him, keeping him in the mix as he eventually posted an even-par round. I am sure he did some work on the range to find his swing again, but it's hard to trust him as the pressure will be amped up. He's a fade for me in matchups.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 3

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