2021 Memorial Round 3 Buys & Fades: Back Scottie Scheffler to Make Run at First TOUR Win
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Scottie Scheffler.
It was a long day at Muirfield Golf Club, as golf was played from sun up to sun down in an effort to try to catch up from Thursday’s lost time. Once the fog lifted, causing another delay, players got in position to finish their first round before rolling almost immediately into the second round.
Patrick Cantlay was the big beneficiary of the golf on Friday morning as he worked his way to the lead after closing out an early-morning 3-under 69 and followed it up with a 5-under 67. Cantlay stretched past Scottie Scheffler who also had a solid Friday, with two under-par rounds of his own to post 6-under through 36 holes.
Once the second half of the field got started on their day, it was well into the evening on the East Coast, and it was inevitable that most players wouldn’t finish. All groups were able to make the turn, but many will have several holes to play on Saturday morning to finish their third round.
Defending Champion, Jon Rahm is one of those players as he tapped in for birdie to tie the lead on his 13th hole before finishing for the day. He is 5-under on his round through those 13 holes and ready to put himself in contention to go back-to-back at the Memorial.
Many other big names are lingering on the leaderboard heading into the weekend. While the start hasn’t been ideal, we are set up for an exciting final two rounds when they finally get to it on Saturday. The big names up top will also provide us some solid betting value before Round 3.
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
History at the Memorial says you need to be in the top five through two rounds to really be a contender for the win. Ten of the last eleven champions of this event have been in that position through 36 holes, which really narrows our buys heading into the weekend. I do think this year could be a bit different as the big number is out there, and with the aggressive play we have seen this week, I could see a player going low and getting in the mix from further back.
The first buy is likely to fit that top-five mold as Scottie Scheffler is in position to contend for his first career win on TOUR. He played stellar golf on Friday as he was tasked with putting in more than a round-and-a-half of golf.
Scheffler is a player that can run hot with his game, and when he is on, he can contend with the best in the world. He has shown to have his best this week in Ohio as he heads into the weekend in the top 10 in strokes gained tee to green, and gaining more than two strokes per round with this ball-striking. We have seen the Memorial in the past as a place that players can break through for a signature win, and at +1200 on DraftKings, Scheffler has value to do the same.
A little further down the board the newly minted Masters champion is lurking with a 5-under round through his first 14 holes. He will start Saturday with the Par 5 15th and a chance to climb into the top 10 in the tournament.
Hideki Matsuyama has been fantastic since his return to golf after capturing the green jacket, and while he stumbled a bit on Thursday, he has come back to form in the second round. He is gaining more than three strokes with his ball-striking in Round 2 thus far, as his approach play has caught fire. Hideki will also come into Saturday morning off of the momentum of a final birdie putt on Friday, where he decided to putt to close out the hole rather than wait for the morning. He’s +2000 at most books heading into Saturday, and in position to make some noise this weekend.
If you want a long shot, look no further than Jordan Spieth. He couldn’t find anything in his first round until a he birdied his final hole of the first 18. It seemed to propel him into his next 18 of Friday morning as he would reel off a bogey-free 67 to get under par for the week.
Spieth will be at least seven shots back going into the third round on Saturday, but with big numbers lurking on many holes at Muirfield Village, he could put his name in the mix with a solid third round. Jordan was simply incredible in the second round throughout his bag tee to green as he gained well over a stroke on the field in each metric.
He actually was just average with his putting or the round could’ve been even better. I love buying into Spieth when he’s dialed in with the ball-striking, as I know the putter will eventually catch up. He’s +6600 on BetMGM going into Saturday, and that would be too short for just about any other player, but I’m giving it serious thought for one of the hottest players in the game.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
It may seem a bit crazy to fade the guy who has just positioned himself in a tie for the lead heading to the weekend, but a deeper dive at how Jon Rahm got there has me doing just that. The Spaniard seems to have stolen Spieth’s magic beans as he has rolled in some long putts and been fantastic around the green.
Rahm is actually losing strokes to the field on approach during his second round, still showing some of his deficiencies with his irons. I just can’t trust a player to remain at the top of the leaderboard on a Nicklaus course while struggling on approach. I don’t see Rahm being able to sustain the more than three strokes he has gained around the greens in the second round, which will lead to him fading from the top as the weekend plays out.
It’s always a fun story when Jim Herman gets in contention on TOUR. He seems to do it at least a couple times a year, and recently he has been able to pull through with a victory. The last time that happened was last summer at the Wyndham, but that was on a much shorter course that seems a better fit to his game.
My fade for Herman this week is as much about his fit to the course across four rounds as it is to his play early in the event. Herman is a shorter hitter that will struggle to keep up as the week goes on, and he certainly can’t afford to be merely field average on approach. I expect we see him start to drop down the leaderboard as he closes out the second round and turns into Round 3.
If you take nearly everything I said about Jim Herman and just copy and paste it right here for Vaughn Taylor, it would be an exact match. Taylor is the same type of player that I expect to find trouble posting the scores to stay in the top 15.
He has also struggled with his irons this week, and is nearly fully reliant on the putter to carry him to his current position. Taylor is gaining nearly two-and-a-half strokes with the flat stick per round this week, but once that tapers off, his chances of a high finish will be soon to follow.
Strokes Gained Data for All Players Through Friday (avg/rd)
*Data is average per round for holes played thus far
**Cut is projected to be 2-over