2021 Honda Classic Round 3 Buys and Fades: Buy the Chasers to Catch Aaron Wise
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Wise at the Honda Classic.
PGA National didn’t have quite the same bite for Friday’s second round of The Honda Classic as the field played the course nearly a stroke better than they did on Thursday. Nine players posted scores of 65 or better, including 36-hole leader Aaron Wise who posted the lowest score through two rounds at this event since it moved to PGA National in 2007.
Wise shot another 6-under 64 on Friday to take a three-shot lead over Brandon Hagy, who posted the round of the day, and first-round leader Matt Jones. Hagy’s 62 was one shot better than Sam Ryder who sits in fourth place at 8-under on the week, with a group of four led by Shane Lowry rounding out the top five on the leaderboard.
The three-shot advantage for Jones was quickly erased on Friday as he bogeyed two of his first three holes, showing what can happen around this difficult course. Wise will now go into the weekend in the same spot, but with the final tee time of the day. I will continue to look for value to chase the leader as we head into moving day at The Honda Classic.
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
While he didn’t have near the day he had yesterday, Matt Jones was still one of the best ball strikers in the field on Friday. He just simply couldn’t convert on enough putts to save par or score at a level to stay in contact with Aaron Wise throughout the round.
The Australian has gained more than eleven strokes on the field tee to green through two rounds, with more than eight of those coming with his ball striking. Jones lost 2.75 strokes on the greens on Friday, which is generally the strength of his game. He ranks 29th on TOUR putting this season, and if he keeps the tee to green game going, he will stay in contention throughout the weekend. I can’t advise buying him to win at +600 on BetMGM, but I do like him in DFS and to remain in the hunt the rest of the way.
Another Australian that I am buying in on for moving day is Adam Scott. He has really put together a solid first 36 holes with his ball striking, which has been his struggle over the last few weeks.
The real key for Scott is that he has found his game off the tee as he gained 2.20 strokes on the field in that category on Friday, and coupled it with .72 strokes gained on approach. He ranks 38th in putting this season, and he has continued to roll it well around PGA National. If he can put all of these aspects of his game together on Saturday, he will have a shot to put himself in contention heading into the final round. I’ll dabble at +3300 on DraftKings, but will really focus on him in finishing position odds and matchups for Round 3.
One longshot worth a look on Saturday at The Honda Classic is Will Gordon. He came out of the gates fast on Friday as he holed out for eagle on the fourth hole and had himself within just a few shots of the lead. That eagle skews his numbers, but it doesn’t take away from him hitting 75% of this greens in regulation through two rounds.
Gordon has shown in his young career to be a solid player off the tee, but his iron game is what drives the results. He seems to have both areas dialed in this week at PGA National as he has gained at least three strokes ball striking in each round. I don’t mind a flyer on the young guy to go low and get in a spot to contend on Sunday at +10000 on BetMGM.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
We saw Brandon Hagy flash near the top of the leaderboard at The American Express before falling out of the top 20 on the weekend. He has otherwise missed more cuts than he’s made and now will have the pressure of the final pairing tomorrow at PGA National.
There’s no doubting the round Hagy put together on Friday as he shot up the leaderboard, but as we saw with Matt Jones, it’s tough to follow up a low round with another on TOUR. It’s made that much harder when you have to do it from an unfamiliar spot like a late Saturday tee time. I’ll put the early fade in on Brandon as I expect him to struggle under the pressure on a course that doesn’t allow you to get away with much.
Shane Lowry was a popular pick coming into the week and rightfully so in this lower-end field off of his eighth-place finish at The Players last week. My issue with the Irishman going into Saturday is that he has been leaning heavily on his short game.
Lowry went from losing strokes off the tee on Thursday to losing them on approach on Friday. He’s hit just eleven greens in regulation in each of his first two rounds and has needed the 4.29 strokes he’s gained around the greens to put him in a spot to contend into the weekend. It could certainly be something where he finally puts both parts of his ball striking game together on Saturday, but I tend to trend the other direction as I think his lack of accuracy off the tee and on approach catch up with him this weekend.
I have to double down on Russell Henley. He managed to carve out another under-par round on Friday as his putter carried him for another half-a-stroke gained despite losing strokes in two categories tee to green.
If you’re a fan of Henley this weekend, the good news is that he gained two strokes on approach, but similar to Lowry, it was at the expense of another aspect of his game. He hit only eight fairways on Friday, after finding just 10 greens in regulation in the first round. I’m still in on the fade for Henley as I just don’t buy that he has the ball striking or a reliable short game to stay in contention as the pressure mounts.