2021 Sanderson Farms Championship Final Round Buys & Fades: Stick with Burns for the Win
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Burns.
Moving day at the Sanderson Farms Championship lived up to the billing, as a number of players charged up the leaderboard to position themselves for a chance to win on Sunday. The one name that has stayed consistently at the top, however, is Sahith Theegala who is looking for the wire-to-wire victory after sleeping on at least a share of the lead after each round.
Theegala will go into the final round with a one-shot advantage over four others, including the top-ranked player in this field, Sam Burns. Cameron Tringale, Denny McCarthy and second-round co-leader Cameron Young join Burns at 17-under for the week.
Fifteen players are within four shots of the lead, and as Tringale showed on Saturday with his 10-under round, players even further back could still be in the hunt. Let’s take a look at the Strokes Gained data through 54 holes at the Country Club of Jackson to see if we can pick out a winner on Sunday.
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 4
My favorite buy going into Saturday was Sam Burns, and I am sticking with that play for the final round. He shot a solid, bogey-free, 7-under 65 in the third round, where he really kicked things into gear as he made the turn to the back nine.
Burns birdied six of seven holes from the 8th to the 14th, including five in a row during that stretch. Looking closer at the stats from the week, he has been far and away the best player in this field tee to green. He is gaining more than a stroke and a half per round on the rest of field in that metric, as well as in ball-striking where he is the best player both on and off the tee and on approach.
Burns will play from the penultimate pairing on Sunday, right ahead of the young leader and a longtime tour veteran still seeking his first win. I believe that Burns is destined for a multi-win season this year after being in position a bunch last season before finally capitalizing at the Valspar in May. He is my favorite to win tomorrow, and oddsmakers agree, with Burns sitting at +275, the shortest of any player.
One new name that has hovered at the top of the leaderboard all week is Cameron Young. He has been steady throughout his bag in each round, not having lost strokes to the field in any category.
Young is one of the many recent Korn Ferry Tour grads, and while Mito Pereira has gotten a lot of the attention with his three-win promotion, Cameron is no slouch either. He won twice on the KFT last year, showing he knows how to close out a tournament. I’m going to take a stab on him to have a chance to get it done tomorrow in Mississippi as well as at +850. He is the longest odds of the bunch closest to the top, but he arguably has as much win equity as any of them.
If I am looking for someone down the leaderboard to get hot and force a playoff or go low enough to win, I’ll go to Corey Conners. His round on Saturday was nothing short of strange as the player known for his ball-striking and a poor putter had everything upside down.
The Canadian gained more than three shots on the field on the greens during his 6-under 66. He did it while losing strokes to the field tee to green, including on approach. I am willing to take a shot that Conners will quickly turn around his ball-striking game, and if he can keep any semblance of the putter he had in the third round, he could certainly get in the mix from four shots back at +2800 on BetMGM.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4
Sahith Theegala was a decorated player in college with three All-American seasons at Pepperdine, including winning the Haskins Award in his final year. He wasn’t able to carry it over to the PGA TOUR much last season, but he was able to carve out a solid group of starts on the Korn Ferry where he had three top 10s.
Theegala undoubtedly has a lot of talent and looks like a player that could become a name to watch in the future, I just don’t think we see him break through for a win quite yet. He is still seeking his first professional victory, and I just feel the pressure of the final pairing on Sunday will be a bit much for him to overcome with some of the players looking to chase him down.
It would certainly be a great story for him to make it happen, and if he can maintain his great play that has seen him bogey just one hole all week, it could definitely be his week. My fade is solely on the leaderboard gravity I think he’ll be feeling as things get into crunch time in Sunday’s round.
Speaking of players looking for a breakthrough win, Cameron Tringale has been seeking that since he turned pro in 2010. He may be feeling more pressure on Sunday than anyone, as that win is truly in reach for the Georgia Tech alum after his 10-under 62 got him into the final pairing.
Tringale made two eagles in his bogey-free round on Saturday, leading the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, despite losing strokes on approach. He was red hot off the tee, as well as on and around the greens. The old adage about the difficulty of following up a really low round with another comes into play in my fade of Tringale on Sunday, especially with the added pressure, making it a fairly easy decision for me.
This Sunday fade pains me as I have a vested interest in Aaron Wise this week as my longshot pick pretournament at +6000. He has played well and put himself in position, but surprisingly it’s been his game around the green that has kept him in the hunt rather than his play on approach.
Wise has gained 6.76 strokes this week around the greens, including 2.8 on Saturday. He holed out for eagle from the fairway greenside on the third hole to really kickstart things for him. My concern for Wise is that his iron play has gone the wrong direction since his opening round on Thursday. He has lost strokes on approach each of the past two days, and it’s hard for me to see his play around the green continue to this level for a player that ranked 98th in that category last season.