2021 U.S. Open Round 2 Buys and Fades: Chasers Like Hatton & Fitzpatrick Have Value
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyrrell Hatton.
The U.S. Open got off to a slow start at Torrey Pines on Thursday as the marine layer caused a 90-minute fog delay of the beginning of the tournament. Once it finally cleared and players hit the course, it was exactly what we would expect out of this event.
There are big numbers available around every turn of the course, and some of those came solely on the firm and fast greens. Max Homa was a glaring testament to that as he four-putted his third hole of the day, included three putts from inside of four feet. Others found trouble with the deep rough that left them just trying to get the ball back into play.
While many struggled, as the field played to nearly three strokes over par on the round, others found some success. Russell Henley had the best round of the morning wave as he holed a ten-foot birdie on his final hole of the day to post a 4-under 71. He would be matched by Louis Oosthuizen through 16 holes of his afternoon round, before the horn would blow stopping play due to darkness. In total, 21 players were under par when play stopped on Thursday evening, with some still needing to finish as many a six holes. Unfortunately, the morning fog delay could be an issue nearly every day of this tournament, which could lead to playing catch up every round.
There are nearly forty players within just five shots of the lead going into the second day at Torrey Pines, making for a solid overnight betting market. Let’s take a look at the data from the opening round to see who stands out.
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 2
As is often the case at the U.S. Open, many of the superstars of the game are positioned to be a factor after the opening round. There are many big names lurking just behind the leaders, and they will be looking to get themselves a late afternoon tee time going into the weekend. I will be looking to add some of those names to my card, and it will start with Tyrrell Hatton on Friday.
He took the momentum of his great play at the Palmetto straight into the first round at Torrey Pines on Thursday as he gained more than two shots on the field tee to green. While it was a solid day tee to green, it wasn’t quite up to the standards we expect from the Englishman, but it was really encouraging to see him find something with his short game after making nothing on the greens last week. I would expect that we see Hatton put it all together as we go forward through this tournament, and that will be a dangerous combination down the stretch of this U.S. Open. I’m officially a buyer on Hatton at +2900 on FanDuel heading into day two.
The first player that stands out to me for betting value going into the second day and eventually the second round is Matt Fitzpatrick. I identified him as someone finding some form in the final round at the Palmetto Championship on Sunday where he missed just a few fairways and even less greens in regulation during his bogey-free round.
Fitzpatrick carried that good form into his opening round where he shot a 1-under 70, ranking second in the morning wave in strokes gained tee to green. While he gained strokes in all tee-to-green metrics on Thursday, he did most of his damage on approach. He gained more than three shots on the field with his irons, ranking fourth in the morning group. The Englishman has always been known for his putting, but he wasn’t able to get much going on the greens as he lost nearly a stroke to the field on the greens.
I expect Fitzpatrick to continue to hit the ball well and keep it in play throughout, which will allow him to stay in contention as this tournament becomes a grind this weekend. He’s listed a +4100 to win on FanDuel, which is a nice number heading into Friday.
One longer shot that jumps out for some value into the second round is Si Woo Kim. He’s listed at +12500 on BetMGM, which is just too long for the way he played on Thursday. We never quite know what we will get out of Si Woo going into an event as his play varies greatly from week to week.
Early returns appear to show that we may see the good version of Kim this week as he gained more than three strokes on the field tee to green in his opening-round 70. He also did most of his damage on approach where he gained 2.83 shots on the field. It may seem a bit of a longshot for Kim to pull off the major victory this week, but this is a guy with a win in the elite field of a Players Championship already on the mantle. I’m willing to take a chance at the triple-digit odds that are out there, with a bit more of a focus on the South Korean in placing bets, matchups and DFS going into the weekend.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
My first fade of the 2021 U.S. Open is on the early leader of the tournament, Russell Henley. He put together a great round on Thursday, but I don’t see it continuing much longer.
He commented after the round how the last time he played Torrey Pines he needed a hole-out on the final hole to post a 79, that was seven years ago, and there’s a reason he hasn’t been back since. Add that to the fact he gained an unsustainable 3.76 strokes on the greens, and this is a recipe for a first round leader that could battle the cutline on Friday.
There are a number of players that just seem to show up on the West Coast. Patrick Rodgers generally fits that mold as the Stanford product seems to have an affinity for courses around the Pacific. He had himself in contention for the first-round lead through much of the day on Thursday and ended the day with a 1-under 70.
Rodgers is another player that did most of his damage on the greens in the opening round. He actually lost strokes to the field tee to green on the round, despite his position in a tie for 11th going into Friday. He was able to overcome his short falls on approach and around the green with the second best putter on the day, gaining 4.22 strokes with the flat stick. I’m putting in the early fade on Rodgers as I don’t think the putter can be the main attribute to hold up a player that has missed the cut in five of his last eight events with no top-35 finishes in that stretch.
The U.S. Open always brings out some great stories of amateurs, players on lesser tours, or simply unheard of golfers making a splash. We got a bit of exposure to a couple of Korn Ferry Tour players near the top of the leaderboard on Thursday, including Taylor Montgomery who shot a 1-under 70.
He was able to put a solid round together despite losing more than a shot to the field on approach in the opening round. His iron play led to strokes lost tee to green for the day, but he had the hottest putter in the field. Montgomery gained more than four-and-a-half strokes putting on the day and will go into Friday in a tie for 11th.
Montgomery is certainly a player that wants to take full advantage of his opportunity this week on the big stage, but I don’t think he’s quite ready to compete through the weekend. His play on Thursday suggests he may be in for a grind on Friday unless he finds something with his ball striking during the second round.