2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Round 3 Buys & Fades: 3 Golfers To Buy at TPC Southwind, Including Daniel Berger

2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Round 3 Buys & Fades: 3 Golfers To Buy at TPC Southwind, Including Daniel Berger article feature image
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Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Daniel Berger.

The second round at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational played similarly for the field as it did on Day 1, especially for 36-hole leader Harris English. The former Georgia Bulldog backed up his opening round 62 with a 65 to retain his two-shot edge heading into the weekend.

English had four birdies and an eagle to offset just one dropped shot, as he maintained control over the final WGC event of the season.

He wasn’t the best round of the day, though, as Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer both posted matching 8-under rounds to climb into a tie for second behind the leader. Ian Poulter, Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns are another shot back at 10-under through the first two rounds.

There are 20 players within seven strokes of the leader, which has them just five back of second should English falter at any stage this weekend. The water hazards on 11 holes at TPC Southwind bring a lot of big numbers in play for anyone in the field and keeps many players in touch with the leaders throughout the week.

I am still looking for value plays down the leaderboard for this reason as we look to find the right buys to get into contention on Moving Day.

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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 3

The player with arguably the best course history at TPC Southwind is Daniel Berger, who had back to back wins in the prior version of this tournament before it became a WGC event. Berger started fast this week and looked ready to contend throughout the tournament until a three-bogey stretch in four holes as he made the turn on Friday started to derail that effort.

Berger closed his round with three birdies on the back nine holes to get back within shouting distance of the lead and looks primed for a low round on Saturday. Despite his issues he was still fifth in the field on approach on Friday and 12th in strokes gained tee to green.

The biggest issue for Berger in his second round was a poor putter, which lost 0.71 strokes to the field. Those issues were highlighted by a missed birdie opportunity from inside of seven feet on his last hole of the round.

I believe there are a lot of players that will find themselves in contention this weekend with so many big numbers in play. Berger is one player that tops the list at +2900 on FanDuel, even from six shots back going into Saturday.

[Bet Daniel Berger at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

Another player at 7-under through the first two rounds is Carlos Ortiz. The Mexican was just 1-under on his round on Friday, but that doesn’t tell the entire story.

He came out to open his round with a bogey-double bogey start, immediately putting his tournament in doubt. The way he bounced back is part of the reason I am buying Ortiz at +10000 on DraftKings going into the weekend as he showed the mental ability to handle the adversity that happens around this track.

Ortiz eventually found four birdies and an eagle in his Friday round to get himself into the clubhouse with another under par round. If he can keep his game heading in the right direction, he too could be a factor this weekend, certainly for a high finish and in matchups.

[Bet Carlos Ortiz at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

We all want to see Tony Finau break through for another win at some point and if he does, I believe it will be through coming from behind at some stage. He is certainly in position to possibly be a name to watch this weekend after posting a 6-under round on Friday to get within the top 15.

Finau was headed for an even better round when he sent his tee shot on the final hole of the day into the water, and maybe that will wake him up a touch to avoid those issues this weekend. He’s +8000 to win on FanDuel, which feels admittedly unlikely. If his irons continue to strike the way they did on Friday, though, he could get in the mix for a top-10 type of finish come Sunday.

[Bet Tony Finau at PointsBet.]

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

History was made on Friday at TPC Southwind as Cameron Smith made it through the round with just 18 putts. It’s an impressive stat, but often it is indicative of a player that couldn’t quite find his game on approach. The Australian was a bit of a victim to that on Friday as he lost strokes with his irons for the second consecutive round.

Smith was a buy for me heading into the week after he was dialed in on approach during the Olympics, but it’s the part of the game that has failed him a bit to start at Southwind. I am going to fade his ability for the putter to stay white hot this weekend, which will have him dropping if the ball striking doesn’t return.

Max Homa is the player who sticks out from a strokes-gained perspective as the most obvious fade into the weekend. He lost strokes in both ball-striking metrics on Friday despite putting together an under par round.

My issue with Homa is as much about his play in the second round as it is about what we have seen from him over the last couple of months. His best finish since the Memorial at the start of June was a 25th at the Rocket Mortgage.

After a shaky Day 2 at the St. Jude, I’m fading his ability to maintain his position at T13 this weekend.

I’ve mostly been in the most of “wait and see” on Matthew Wolff since his return to golf. He has shown flashes of the player that went toe to toe with Bryson DeChambeau at the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, but he hasn’t put together a full week just yet.

The 22-year-old stumbled again on Friday at TPC Southwind, as he lost more than three shots to the field on approach. I think he may struggle to bounce back this weekend. I’m out on Wolff, again, until I see that he can contend once again.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 2

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