2021 Shriners Children’s Open Round 2 Buys & Fades: Buy the Early Wave on Friday
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Hagy.
The play on Thursday at the Shriners Children’s Open was just as expected with low scoring available throughout the day, especially during the morning wave which averaged more than three strokes under par. It was nearly a full stroke tougher in the afternoon, but there is reason to believe that we will see that even out on Friday.
No player took more advantage of the morning scoring conditions than Sung Kang as he stormed out of the gates with a 10-under 61. The South Korean played his back nine in a five-under 30, closing with an eagle on his final hole of the day. He will take a two shot lead into the second round over Sungjae Im, Charley Hoffman, and Korn Ferry Tour graduate Chad Ramey.
Six others shot rounds of seven-under, including Matt Jones and Matthew Wolff, who were the only players in this top group to play in the afternoon wave on Thursday. They will seemingly have a nice edge to position themselves for a late tee time on Saturday if they can continue playing well on Friday morning.
There are twenty-eight players within five shots of the lead heading into the second round, and with a cut line that is potentially trending towards six-under, things will get very interesting on Friday. Let’s take a look at the strokes gained data from the opening round to see who stands out to make a move before the weekend in Las Vegas.
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 2
I’m going to fully play towards the morning wave on Friday and see if we can sneak in some guys that played well in the afternoon on Thursday, but they are a bit down the leaderboard. My first stop here is actually with the guy that tied for the best round of the late tee times in Matt Jones.
Jones flashed at times last season, most notably with his win at the Honda in March, though things have been a bit tougher with his form of late. Still, he gained strokes throughout the bag on Thursday, and the most encouraging part was 1.55 strokes gained on approach.
He’s a player that we know has winning upside, and if his iron play is in form, it will pair really well with the typical strength of his game on and around the greens. I’m willing to take a shot on the Australian at +3500 to win, but also for other markets going into Friday.
The best value bet for me going into Friday is with Brandon Hagy at six-under after his first round. He is listed at +8000 on DraftKings and will go off in the first tee time in the second round, which could be a big advantage if the winds pick up as expected.
Hagy had a great day on Thursday as he gained strokes in nearly every metric, only falling just short of field average around the greens. He gained more than two strokes with his ball striking and also putted it well. Hagy is a long hitter whom we have seen contend in these birdie fests, though he is still searching for that first win.
I believe he has the skillset to win at this level, and with the edge he gets tomorrow morning, he may be able to get in position for a late Saturday tee time.
Consider me a full believer in everything Sam Burns. I wrote before the week about how he showed after his first win that he had the ability to come right back out and compete in his next tournament as he finished runner-up at the Byron Nelson just two weeks following his win at the Valspar.
Burns was cruising again today just a week after his win until the 17th hole when he dunked one in the water on the Par 3, skewing all of his approach play on the day. In fact, three of the five missed greens for Sam on Thursday came on the Par 3s, which he will look to clean up on Friday.
Still, Burns shot a six-under 67 and will have a coveted morning tee time in his second round. The rest of his game was in good shape, and I think we will see him put together a great round tomorrow morning. I am in on him in all markets, including +1800 on DraftKings in shooting for back to back wins.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
While we are buying the morning tee times on Friday, I’ll be looking to fade the afternoon wave. That being said, it’s tough to find players that didn’t do well statistically at the top of the board when the scores are so low.
The “worst” player within a few shots of the lead and playing in the afternoon tomorrow was Adam Schenk. He ranked 24th in the field on approach, but was 61st in Strokes Gained Off the Tee, which could be a troublesome pairing in the anticipated weather conditions on Friday. Schenk hasn’t finished inside the top 30 in any of his last five events, and I think we see him drop down the leaderboard in the second round.
Nick Taylor is another player that I question in his sustainability on the first page of the leaderboard. He lost a bit on approach in the first round and really didn’t have much in his game tee to green, gaining just more than a stroke on the field despite his six-under round.
The Canadian will have to find some form in both aspects of his ball striking to stay in contention heading into the weekend. He too has struggled with form, posting just one finish in the top 25 dating back to March. While there is reason to be encouraged by his start, it appears it could be a bit of an uphill battle the rest of the way.
The big name player that sticks out for a fade in the second round is the most recent Masters winner, Hideki Matsuyama. The Japanese star shot a six-under opening round, but he did it while ranking in the bottom half of the field both in fairways hit and greens in regulation.
I have concerns that he will be able to straighten that out during a windy round on Friday, which could put his weekend in jeopardy.