2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational Round 3 Buys & Fades: Windy Conditions Set to Challenge the Leaders at Bay Hill
Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Burns
As impressive as Rory McIlroy was in the opening round on Thursday, Viktor Hovland was equally so on Friday. He fired a 6-under 66 to shoot up the leaderboard and take the lead at 9-under before Rory had even teed off. His round would hold up throughout the afternoon as the winds picked up and caused issues throughout the late wave.
Hovland will now take a three-shot lead over the rest of the field into the weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational as he benefitted from the easier conditions in the morning on Friday. It was nearly a two-shot difference from morning to afternoon in the second round, which caused players like McIlroy to fall back from their positions going into the day.
The weather will be similar on Saturday and into Sunday at Bay Hill as winds will pick up each afternoon. This will leave the leaders with the toughest conditions in each round over the weekend and makes for a bit of an edge in targeting the players down the leaderboard.
That will be my plan into Moving Day as I think we could see the things flip quite a bit with the weather and conditions getting tougher the rest of the way.
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
I’m going to adjust my typical view going into the third round at Bay Hill. I want to target some players who have shown an ability to putt well on these greens across the first two rounds alongside some good ball striking.
There will be plenty of spots where a clutch par putt is going to be needed to keep a round going, and I want a player who is showing comfort with the speeds and reads of these putting surfaces.
While that description clearly fits Hovland first and foremost, I am just not going in at short odds on the leader with everything coming this weekend. I’ll look further down and find a player like Sam Burns who turned around his ball striking on Friday and continued to roll it well on the greens.
Burns gained better than two shots on the field with his approach play in the second round and gained four more with his putting. The only real concern with the former LSU Tiger is his game off the tee, which has left him hitting just over half of his fairways this week.
His length off the tee mitigates that to some extent, but we will need him to dial that in to truly get in contention on Saturday. He is +4600 on FanDuel, which feels admittedly a bit short for a six-shot deficit. With the way things can swing at Bay Hill, he is certainly in contention going into Round 3.
Marc Leishman is a player who will always be in consideration for me when the winds are starting to become an issue. The Australian seems to thrive in those conditions, and we know he loves playing Bay Hill.
He will start the third round from nine shots back on Saturday, but he has been gaining shots in nearly every metric of his game through two rounds this week. Leishman was better than the field in every aspect on Friday, and I like that trend heading to the weekend. It may take some really wild things to happen for him to contend, but he will be one of my first targets for a Top 10 before the players tee off this weekend.
Another player who has shown an ability to handle the wind and still post a low score is Scottie Scheffler. He is alongside Leishman at 1-under after the first two rounds but showed recently in Phoenix that he has the ability to post a number and get in the mix from behind.
Scheffler struggled a bit off the tee on Friday but was otherwise solid throughout his bag. He has gained 1.48 shots on approach on average across the first two rounds and is also gaining strokes on these Bermuda greens. I’ll be looking at Scottie for a Top 10 type of finish this week, but his ability to go low will also give me interest at +9000 going into Saturday.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
I am going right back to my second round fade of Tyrrell Hatton for Round 3. I would argue that I got it right the first time around as he played the way I anticipated, losing more than a shot to the field with his ball striking. He struggled with both aspects of his ball striking game on Friday from the easier wave but made up for it with an impeccable game on and around the greens.
The Englishman could continue to be a wizard with his short game this weekend, but with him now needing to do it from the final pairing, in the worst of the wind conditions, I am fading once again. Winds tend to amplify things for players who are off with their ball striking, which certainly fits for Hatton. Add in the the pressure of the final group, and I’ll be happy to play against him this weekend.
Beau Hossler has been playing some really good golf over the last several weeks. He has positioned himself with a few late tee times on the weekends and will do so again on Saturday at Bay Hill. He maintained his spot near the top of the leaderboard on Friday despite a 3-over round which saw him lose more than three shots off the tee. His struggles off the tee are the part of his game that has held him back, and it was highlighted again in the second round.
Each of the holes where Hossler dropped shots on Friday was due to a poor tee shot, including on the 15th hole where he fired his first tee shot out of bounds, eventually resulting in a double bogey. This is a course where the rough is up, and tee shots often require precision in order to avoid dropped shots. I can’t trust Hossler at this stage to be able to be consistent enough off the tee to take advantage of his good form on approach and his great putting.
I’ll drop down a little further for my final fade, which is going to be with the popular Rickie Fowler. He will be a player I would openly target on Saturday in matchups as he has been wildly inconsistent with his game.
There are times and often holes where Rickie seems like he has things headed in the right direction as he plays some beautiful shots. The problem is that he will then go to the next hole and fire off some of the most perplexing swings. As the winds and conditions get tougher over the weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, players will pay dearly for those loose swings. Rickie just has too many of them consistently for me to expect anything but struggles this weekend.
Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 2