2021 Northern Trust Round 3 Buys & Fades: Look Out for Bryson DeChambeau at Liberty National
Sarah Stier/Getty Images. Pictured: Bryson DeChambeau.
Friday at the Northern Trust made things quite interesting going into the weekend, especially since it wasn’t due to Jon Rahm taking a step back. Instead, Rahm took an emphatic step forward with a 4-under 67. He was once again solid throughout his bag, but a number of elite players were just better in the second round, allowing them to close the gap.
Rahm will take a one-shot lead into the third round on Saturday over playing partner Tony Finau who shot a 7-under 64. It was the best round of the morning tee times but was passed by matching 62s from Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth. They were the biggest names to make a Friday move as they each climbed within the top 10, and Schaffele worked his way to T3, just two shots back of Rahm’s lead. Brooks Koepka was another big name on the move on Friday afternoon as he shot a 7-under round to get within four shots heading into moving day.
Justin Thomas is also still in the mix after he climbed back from a slow start in the second round to stay within two of the Spaniard’s lead going into the weekend. It makes this more of a toss-up than it seemed to be after Thursday’s opening round, and puts us in position to make some plays before the third round.
Let’s take a look at the strokes gained data from the second round to see who stands out for some value going into Saturday.
Strokes Gained Explanation
Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is truly played 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
I didn’t come into the night looking for full longshots, but when I cross-checked the strokes gained data with the odds, it was hard to ignore some of the names. Lee Westwood is the first of the bunch that stood out at 7-under on the week.
Sure, he’s five shots back going into the third round, but it’s hard not to see the value on him at +10000. He has gained more than five strokes on the field with his ball-striking through two rounds at the Northern Trust and is positioned to be a contender throughout the final two rounds.
Westwood has had a resurgence of his career this season and appears ready to continue that through the playoffs. He is getting squeezed on these odds due to the name value around him, but he has shown as much win equity this season as those within a few shots of him this week. I’ll mostly look to him as a hopefully under-owned DFS option and matchup play, but I will sprinkle him in for a solid finishing position.
The name that has quietly put together back-to-back scoring rounds is Bryson DeChambeau. He somehow managed to birdie half of his holes on Thursday and still finish the round over par. Bryson found some better consistency on Friday as he shot a 6-under 65 to get into the mix.
He’s still six shots back of the lead, but his scoring numbers, with 17 birdies or better in 36 holes, are certainly drawing some attention going into the weekend. Bryson has averaged nearly three shots gained on approach through two rounds at Liberty National this week and is a couple of big mistakes from being in the mix with the leaders. If he can clean things up, he is a name to watch at +5000 on BetMGM, but at the very least he is a buy for DFS and matchups going into Saturday.
In a similar realm to DeChambeau, I am a sucker for Sungjae Im when I see the ball-striking numbers he showed on Friday. He ranked fourth in the field on approach and second in Strokes Gained Tee to Green. Sungjae was dialed in throughout the bag on Friday and will start alongside Bryson at 6-under and six shots short of Rahm’s lead.
It was back-to-back days with more than two strokes gained ball-striking for Im, and that’s a really good sign for a player that has struggled to find consistency this season. The +12000 is worth a sprinkle on FanDuel for Im to pull off the improbable, but I will be mostly targeting him in DFS, matchups and at +275 for a top-10 finish on BetMGM.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
My fades going into Friday all looked good and felt good before the round, but apparently they read my write-up and were not happy. Keith Mitchell went on a birdie tear and put himself near the top in the morning, then Harold Varner III showed consistency we haven’t seen all season. I will still look to the same formula to fade into Saturday, and the first player that sticks out is Kevin Na.
Na has had a great few weeks showing some awesome and consistent form with his ball-striking. Ironically, his putter has failed him during that stretch, but things flip-flopped on Friday. He was simply terrible with his ball-striking, losing strokes in both metrics in the second round, but he was able to scratch out a 5-under round by gaining more than five shots on the field on and around the greens. He certainly could keep a hot putter this weekend, but I’ll fade him due to the approach issues that have surfaced in the opening rounds this week.
Another player that got away with some ugly ball-striking on Friday was Cameron Tringale. He lost 2.18 strokes to the field in those metrics in the second round and 1.81 strokes tee to green.
Tringale had to lean heavily on the flat stick Friday as he gained 2.83 strokes on the greens, and I just can’t see that continuing this weekend. He will need to find the irons that had him gaining 2.39 strokes in Round 1 to have any shot to stay in the top 20 the rest of the way.
One of the things that makes PGA golf so great is that there are names that pop up every week that may you wonder where they came from. That name this week is Robert Streb, who I honestly didn’t know was in the field until he was in third place early on Friday.
He is a TOUR winner, but someone that usually flashes during the fall swing in lighter fields. Still, he has put together two solid days to put his name within the top 12 going into the weekend at the Northern Trust. I’d love for this story to continue, but I just don’t see it after dissecting the data from the first two days.
Streb lost more than two shots on approach on Friday and has been heavily reliant on the short game. He can get away with this play in lesser fields, but I expect he will get swallowed up by the elite players around him this weekend.