2022 BMW Championship Round 2 Buys & Fades: Morikawa Showing Ball Striking Form
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Morikawa
The first TOUR event at Wilmington Country Club kicked off on Thursday, as the top 68 players from the season took to the Delaware course for the BMW Championship, the second event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Keegan Bradley came out with the round of the day, firing a 7-under 64 to take a one-shot lead into the second round.
Adam Scott shot the only 65 in Round 1, while three players got in at 5-under, including Justin Thomas.
Once we get past those five players, the leaderboard really bunches up, as there are 23 players at 3-under or better.
Overall, the course played like a good test, with some trouble around that can lead to big numbers, but also plenty of birdie opportunities. We certainly saw the importance of elite iron play and an advantage to those players that were longer off the tee.
I’ll look to used this information to help us gain an edge heading into Round 2 on Friday.
Strokes Gained Explanation
Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer has 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, SG: Ball Striking and SG: 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 are just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.
3 Golfers to Buy in Round 2
Odds are short this week with a small field, so I don’t foresee adding a bunch of outrights to the card.
I also think that with this elite field, we are likely to see one of the top players in the game end up with the win on Sunday. That means I won’t chase names that I don’t see winning.
The most encouraging play of the day for me on Thursday came from Collin Morikawa. He was back to his usual game, ball striking his way to the top of the leaderboard. He even gained shots on the greens.
Morikawa missed just four fairways and two greens on the day, which is a great recipe for his success over the next three rounds. The two-time major winner was fifth in the field on approach and as mentioned, gained .85 strokes with his putter.
We know that when he brings the flatstick, that’s often when he finishes near the top of the leaderboard.
Speaking of ball striking, there were only three players better than Corey Conners in that category on Thursday. He gained more than three strokes on the field, with two of those coming on approach.
Ball striking is his bread and butter, and it appears this may be a course where that aspect allows players to rise to the top — even without their best on the greens.
I’ll look to ride that from the Canadian going into Friday, but while the odds are solid, I just can’t quite picture him hoisting the trophy on Sunday.
One player that I will add across the board is Will Zalatoris. He’s out at +4500 on DraftKings, and that is just a bit too long in my eyes, as he’s quite a bit shorter at all other books.
He certainly started poorly, with an ugly double at the par 5 3rd. The FedEx St. Jude winner would settle in, though, as he put together four birdies on his closing nine before a disappointing three-putt at the last left him at 1-under for the day.
Zalatoris still put together some great numbers despite not scoring his best. He gained more than two shots tee-to-green and ball striking, with 1.57 of those coming on approach.
He lost 1.9 shots on the greens today — with 1.14 of those coming at the 18th — but he really salvaged the round overall and is still just one low score from being back in the hunt.
I’ll take my buy now at nice odds, as everything appears to still be there for last week’s winner.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
My first fade going into Friday is a pretty straight forward, traditional fade of Christiaan Bezuidenhout. This course doesn’t appear to be one where you can simply rely on a hot putter to stay in contention, and that is really all the South African had going for him on Thursday.
He lost strokes to the field tee-to-green and was just barely above field average in both ball-striking metrics.
I just don’t see him maintaining his position on a course that appears to be set to reward ball strikers over the guys that just get by with their short game.
If you’ve followed me here for long, you know I have a soft spot for K.H. Lee. He has been very good to me the past two years, so it pains me to put in the fade on him after the opening round.
Lee shot a nice 3-under round on Thursday, but he lost strokes to the field in both aspects of his ball striking, as he hit just six fairways and 11 greens in regulation during the round.
In looking at the numbers, we are seeing players have some success from the rough. But those are longer hitters and guys that still found the putting surface. Lee was missing both today, and even with the solid score, that’s a recipe for trouble the rest of the way.
I also love me some Cam Davis, especially in DFS — where his volatility is made up for with his birdie-making ability. I don’t love what I saw from him overall on Thursday, though, as he lost 1.63 strokes to the field with his irons.
Similar to Lee, Davis struggled finding fairways and greens, as he hit the short grass off the tee just four times and only found 10 greens.
Looking closer at his approach numbers, we see an even more concerning trend, as the Australian was even with the field or worse on 11 of his 18 iron shots.
He won’t be able to rely on three strokes gained on and around the greens the rest of the way, which has me fading him until we see signs of the ball striking returning.