2021 Sanderson Farms Championship Round 3 Buys & Fades: Jump on Burns, Norlander
Sam Greenwood/getty Images. Pictured: Sam Burns.
The second round of the Sanderson Farms Championship saw even better scoring than the first, as players charged up the leaderboard Friday morning to position themselves for the weekend. Scoring was so good the cut line climbed all the way up to 5 under par, putting every player within eight shots of each other heading into Saturday’s third round.
Will Zalatoris, last season PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, made the biggest move with his 11-under 61 that vaulted him into the lead through the morning wave. He would eventually be matched by first-round leader Sahith Theegala and the surprise of the week in Nick Watney. Those three are outpacing a couple of new names to the TOUR in Cameron Young and Hayden Buckley, who will tee it up just a shot behind the lead.
There are 26 players within five shots of the lead, and with low scores available at the Country Club of Jackson, the title is still up for grabs. Let’s take a look at the strokes gained data from the second round to see who stands out going into Moving Day.
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
The elite player to watch that is lurking just outside of the leaders for me is Sam Burns. He has been surprisingly poor on the greens this week, but his ball striking and tee to green game has kept him in the mix.
Burns was the best player in the field, gaining 5.8 shots on the field tee to green Friday with more than five of those gained ball striking. He was sixth in the field in strokes gained approach and second off the tee for the day.
Burns is first or second in each of those metrics across the first two rounds, and if he can find just a bit more with the putter, I would make him the favorite this weekend. He has some value at +750 on FanDuel, but is certainly a lock for me in all markets for the third round.
Henrik Norlander has been as consistent as they come this week through 36 holes. He is losing a bit off the tee in each round, but has more than made up for it with sharp iron play that has him gaining more than two shots on the field in each of the first two rounds.
The Swede is just three shots back of the lead going into the weekend. If he can find just a bit better play off the tee, he should give himself plenty of scoring opportunities the rest of the way. I like the value we get at +3500 on DraftKings and also in showdown play.
Looking further down the leaderboard for a player that can work his way into the top 20 or even top 10 this weekend, there is some good play being put together by Joseph Bramlett. He has been a player that has flashed at times recently, and he has put together two solid rounds at the Sanderson Farms.
Bramlett will start the weekend just inside of the Top 30 at 7 under, which is just three shots short of the top 10. He has gained 2.5 shots on the field tee to green through two rounds, and has been really solid throughout his bag this week. If he can find a bit more on the putting greens, he can certainly get in the mix for a top finish on Sunday.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
When I look at the top of the leaderboard, there are several names that stick out where I just wonder if they have staying power. I already went there yesterday with Watney, but I have to go back one more time.
His success this week has been a great story and maybe he becomes the next older player to breakthrough, but I just can’t see it. This will be the first weekend he has had in contention in a long, long time. I envision the pressure of the moment mounting on him as he plays from the final group with Zalatoris. My fade is on feel alone as his strokes gained numbers look solid for the week. I just have trouble seeing him retain it across four days.
The next names that jump out for me are Korn Ferry grads Hayden Buckley and Cameron Young. They have proven to be winners at the level, as Young had multiple victories last season, and the ability to close is key at any stage of the professional career.
The issue I see is with Buckley, who lost strokes on approach Friday, and is leaning heavily on his putter. He’s put together back to back great rounds on the greens gaining more than two shots on the field in both, but as the stakes get higher he will have to get more from his ball striking to stay in contention.
Rather than go back to Stephan Jaeger, who still looks like a fade to me through two days, I’ll highlight another fade a little further down the board. Nate Lashley is a TOUR winner and finds himself in a tie for 15th heading into the third round.
Lashley is another player that has gotten himself into good position despite losing strokes to the field in tee to green this week. His iron play has been an issue that has been bailed out time and again by a hot putter. He will need to find more out of the rest of his game to stay in the mix for a top finish.