2022 CJ Cup Round 2 Odds & Picks: Buy Shane Lowry at Strong Odds
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Shane Lowry
The best field of the "Fall Swing" teed off early on Thursday morning from Ridgeland, SC as the CJ Cup got underway. Many of the top players in the world gathered at Congaree Golf Club, but it was Trey Mullinax who stole the show early in the day. He extended out to 7-under at one point during his round and would drop one shot coming in to slip to 6-under for a solid opening round 65.
Gary Woodland tied Mullinax with a 65 of his own and those two share the lead going into Friday. Rory McIlroy is the biggest name of the six players at 5-under, which also includes his playing partner, Tom Kim. The course was gettable on Thursday as the field averaged nearly a full stroke under par and it sets things up for an exciting week, especially as players move into position before the weekend.
This is a no cut event with 78 of the top players on TOUR and with several big names off to slow starts, we will have plenty of value available going into day two. Let's take a look at who stands out from a value perspective going into 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
Nothing epitomizes what we look for in this column more than Aaron Wise's round on Thursday. He lost strokes to the field in three of the four metrics, but the most important category, approach, is where he was head and shoulders above the field. Wise gained nearly six shots with his irons in the opening round as he used them to put himself into position to score time and again. He put six approach shots within nine feet of the hole and several of them resulted in mere tap-ins. That doesn't even account for the beautiful second shot he hit to inside of 25 feet at the par-5 12th.
The former Oregon Duck was absolutely dialed in on approach on Thursday and if he keeps that going, while finding some of the rest of his game, he certainly has staying power through the weekend. My buy on him is to keep his hot play going on Friday, though I can't quite suggest a bet at just +1600 to win.
A story came out after the round of Shane Lowry breaking his putter on the 9th hole (unintentionally) and he had to find a local golf store to buy a new one for the rest of the week. Looking back at the numbers for the Irishman, it's incredible to see he played bogey-free golf and it really speaks to how well the rest of his game was working.
Unsurprisingly, Lowry lost more than a shot to the field on the greens and he'll be breaking in a new flat stick tomorrow. That is certainly a factor, but at +3000 on BetMGM I'd be willing to take that gamble on a player who has the rest of his bag dialed in quite well.
I chased Alex Noren for much of the first half of the year and I'll be damned if he is going to play well this week without me. This is a course that makes sense for a guy who is long, but sometimes wild off the tee. The Swede sits just outside of the top 25 after his opening 2-under round where he gained 1.77 shots ball striking. He carried that metric with his iron play, which ranked 14th in the field with 1.42 strokes gained. I believe he has the talent to compete with this type of field, but I won't let my personal bias get in the way as I think a realistic expectation is a top-10 type of ceiling. I'll be looking for those odds on Noren before play starts on Friday morning.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
Similar to Noren, I believe the talent is still in there for Gary Woodland, but it's been quite a while since we have seen him put it together over four rounds. The former U.S. Open Champion had a top-10 finish at the 2022 version of that major, but no other finishes in the top 25, dating back to the Masters in April. He missed seven cuts in that stretch of golf, including his last time out at the Sanderson Farms. It's really good to see him put together a low round to start the week, but I'm not quite a believer yet.
The first fade that jumps out to me going into the second round is Viktor Hovland. There is certainly a school of thought that sees Hovland's play from the first round and expects him to get better, but when I see him get carried by more than three and a half strokes gained on and around the greens, I am out. Hovland has long struggled with his short game and while I think he can improve over time, it certainly isn't something we can expect to carry him to a win in a strong field. Hovland lost 1.42 shots to the field on approach, so he really needed to lean on that short game to post his 4-under opening round. I'll fade him into Friday because if he continues to struggle with his irons, we can't expect him to continue to make up for it around the greens.
I'm still bitter about Harris English letting me down on this course last year, when he was right there for the victory at the Palmetto Championship. I didn't let that skew my judgement though as I took a shot on him in DFS at a cheap price. However, his Thursday round has me worried about his ability to stay in the top 30.
Harris came out rolling in the first round with birdies on three of his first five holes and a clean front nine where everything was working. He posted his first blemish on the par-3 10th and things started to wobble off track from there. English would lose shots to the field on more than half of his final nine approach shots and his putter, which gained 1.82 strokes on the front nine, started to come back to Earth. I expect we may see him regress a bit further in Round 2, especially if he can't keep the putter rolling hot.