2021 Memorial Tournament Final Round Buys & Fades: Who To Bet With Jon Rahm Out
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Cantlay.
Saturday at the Memorial Tournament will be a day we will all remember for a very, very long time.
As Jon Rahm finished an absolutely dominant day of golf which included an ace during his second round in the morning and an 8-under 64 to tie the 54-hole scoring record at the tournament, he was quickly addressed by TOUR staff just off the green of the 18th hole. Rahm was informed there that his additional test for COVID-19 was confirmed as positive, forcing his withdrawal from the tournament as the leader by six shots.
The impact of the news could be seen immediately in Rahm’s reaction as he buckled over with emotion when he received the information. While the result of the situation is fairly black and white for the Spaniard, two of his playing partners from the week happen to now be the co-leaders, with a third in a tie for third place.
Collin Morikawa, who played the second round with Rahm, and Patrick Cantlay, who played the third round with Rahm, will be subjected to interviews to see if they will be required to be tested and monitored leading into the final round. The same will happen with Scottie Scheffler, who enters Sunday in a tie for third with Branden Grace, three shots behind Morikawa and Cantlay.
All of this is nothing short of unbelievable as the TOUR watched what has to be close to the worst-case scenario play out. The new leaderboard still shows some separation between the leaders, which speaks to Rahm’s incredible performance.
Let’s take a look at the strokes gained data from the third round to see who may be the champion with a bit of an asterisk tomorrow at the Memorial.
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
I will start this by saying that I would simply take the player with the better odds available to me between Cantlay and Morikawa going into tomorrow.
This should be a true toss-up. There is little to nothing separating the two this week, and the three books that have tournament outrights up on Saturday night — BetMGM, FanDuel and PointsBet — agree with me.
BetMGM (Morikawa +120, Cantlay +140) and PointsBet (Morikawa +140, Cantlay +150) have Morikawa as the narrowest of favorites, while FanDuel has both at +150.
My pick to win is Patrick Cantlay since he has been the most consistent player throughout the tournament. He has gained strokes in every category through every round of this event, and I believe he can remain steady with that under the pressure on Sunday.
Cantlay has three rounds in the 60s this week and is gaining nearly a stroke or more on the field in every metric this week. His 3.76 strokes gained per round tee to green ranks third to only Morikawa and the withdrawn Rahm, but he is also gaining 1.24 strokes per round on the greens.
We saw Morikawa stumble through his second round on Friday and into Saturday, and I just don’t know that I trust the putter to hold up down the stretch and under the pressure on Sunday. I expect we will see Cantlay sipping a milkshake with Jack Nicklaus on Sunday evening at Muirfield Village.
I think the winner likely comes from the final pairing, but if anyone has the firepower to run them down, it’s Scottie Scheffler. He will benefit from playing from behind and having the opportunity to go out and play aggressively from the penultimate pairing.
The Texan really played a great round on Saturday but made a big mistake, which was magnified even more after everything transpired with Rahm. Scheffler had just run off three birdies in a row when he went to the par-3 16th and hit it the one place he couldn’t, left and into the lake. A double bogey dropped him back to his current 9-under position.
Similar to Cantlay, Scheffler has been really solid and consistent this week. He is also gaining strokes on the field in all categories this week, including more than two and a half strokes tee to green per round. If the final pairing gives him just a little bit of help on Sunday, Scheffler could be there to capitalize, and it may be the best scenario for him to finally break through for that first win, without anyone really expecting it to happen.
Since we don’t have any odds going into Sunday, I’ll drop down the leaderboard and give you a play for DFS. There are many cheap options that will be available to combine with one or both leaders in Showdown, but the one with potential to get overlooked is Antoine Rozner.
The Frenchman ranked third in strokes gained tee to green on Saturday, gaining more than four strokes on the field with his irons. He’s gained at least one stroke on approach in all three rounds this week, which highlights his ball-striking ability in this elite field.
Rozner will likely go overlooked tomorrow with so many more familiar names around him, but he’s currently tied for 15th and has every opportunity to work his way inside of the top 10 by the end of the round on Sunday.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4
The first fade for me on Sunday is with Branden Grace. It’s not a traditional fade spot as Grace has played really well throughout his bag this week, but it really culminated with the putter in the third round.
He was the best putter in the field on Saturday, gaining 3.41 strokes and seemingly knocking in everything he looked at. The South African happened to pair that elite putting day with his best day ball striking, after having issues in the first two rounds both off the tee and on approach. I will flatly fade that all staying together on Sunday, allowing some others to get in the mix to surpass him in the top 5.
It’s pretty amazing that Shane Lowry has hung onto a top-10 position through three rounds this week since he simply hasn’t been very good since the opening round.
The last time I remember seeing Lowry on TV was when he was hitting a bunker shot over the green and into the water in the second round. He then dropped, chipped out to the rough and then in for a miraculous double bogey. I haven’t given much thought to him since then, but he still remains 4-under on the week and in a tie for 10th.
Looking closer at the stats for Lowry, it isn’t pretty. He has lost strokes on approach in each of the last two rounds, and was negative off the tee in the third round as well. He has simply had some magic on and around the greens to keep him holding on to a solid position. I’ll take the bet that he can’t sustain that spot on Sunday, unless he can figure out the ball striking before the round.
I’m not sure what has gotten into Lucas Glover lately, but I am not a buyer of what seems to be a putting resurgence. Every time I have dug in on the former Clemson Tiger, it seems he is lacking good play with his normally sharp ball striking, but putting the lights out.
Glover did that once again on Saturday as he lost nearly three strokes ball striking on the round, but made up for it with more than four strokes gained on and around the greens. His putter was the biggest beneficiary in salvaging an even par round as he 2.27 strokes on the greens. I will once again reiterate that he ranks 138th on TOUR in strokes gained putting this season, and if his ball striking continues to be suspect, he’s someone I want no part of on Sunday at Muirfield Village.