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2022 CJ Cup Round 3 Odds & Picks: Can Rory McIlroy Take Back World No. 1?

2022 CJ Cup Round 3 Odds & Picks: Can Rory McIlroy Take Back World No. 1? article feature image

Pictured: Rory McIlroy. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

We knew the stars would rise to the occasion at some point during the week at the Congaree Golf Club and Jon Rahm did just that on Friday. His 9-under 62 was the round of the day by three shots and if it weren’t for his only blemish on the final hole, it could have been even better. He’ll head into the weekend at the CJ Cup tied for the lead with Kurt Kitayama. Two players are just one shot back and Rory McIlroy is sitting at 9-under and two shots back.

Everything is setting up for a fantastic weekend of golf in the Palmetto State. There are 13 players within four shots of the leaders and, as Rahm showed us Friday, low rounds can be had on this track. It’ll be a tall ask to overtake both Rahm and McIlroy over the next 36 holes. Let’s see if anyone stands out as up to the task before Round 3.

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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 3

If you asked me to pick a winner right now, before the weekend, it has to be McIlroy. I followed his round pretty closely Friday and it could’ve gone off the rails with the way he started, but he really held things together across a tough front nine and closed strong. McIlroy played some poor golf on the easy, opening holes, then bogeyed both the 6th and 8th to go out 1-over. He would right the ship coming in though as he collected five birdies on his final nine, including one to finish the round and put him right in contention. I think we saw the blip on the radar from the player who has a chance to become No. 1 in the world this week and we may see that patented bounce in his step the rest of the way.

We aren’t likely to see Collin Morikawa win anything this week, but I want to highlight his round because it was vintage Morikawa. He gained 4.59 shots on the field with his ball striking and more than three of those came on approach. He had his irons dialed in, but as also tends to happen, he gave nearly all of that good ball striking back on the greens. He was simply terrible with 4.14 shots lost with the flat stick. Morikawa may not be a great putter, but he certainly isn’t that bad and we have to be encouraged by his day with the irons.

I’m not sure if you can find a prop for low round of the day for Round 3, but if you do, my money is on Cameron Young. He was absolutely rolling with his game and dialed in on all aspects until a wild tee shot at the 11th derailed it all. He would double bogey that hole and couldn’t quite get back on track the rest of they way, but his game is working outside of that one loose swing. I expect him to go low and I don’t think a top 20 type of result is out of the question for the recently crowned Rookie of the Year.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

You don’t come here to read about me cowering away from planting my flag against the top players in the world. I already told you my pick to win is McIlroy and by default that leaves Rahm slipping down the board. Rahm played an amazing round of golf on Friday, but there are certainly areas to poke holes. He only gained a half shot on the field on approach and did almost all of his damage on and around the greens. This is similar to the spot we saw from Viktor Hovland yesterday and Rahm has struggled with his short game at times over the past year. His better than five shots gained on and around the greens certainly isn’t sustainable and he has yet to gain better than .64 shots on approach.

Danny Willett’s round on Friday is the exact scenario we look for when trying to find a fade into the next day. He managed a 4-under, while losing strokes to the field on approach because of a ridiculously hot short game. The 124th ranked putter on TOUR last season gained 2.83 shots on the field with that flatstick on Friday and that carried him through a round where he lost strokes to the field on 13 of 18 approach shots. All of that points directly to a fade for Round 3.

Another player who just can’t find his swing on approach is Seamus Power. He has lost strokes to the field in each of the first two rounds and looks set to tumble from his current position inside the top 15. He also only gained shots on the field with five of his iron shots during Round 2 and while the putter saved him a number of times, it wasn’t able to stay hot throughout the round. His 2-under day was still likely better than it should have been and unless he can find that ball striking this weekend, he’ll have a tough time maintaining a spot in the top 20.

StrokesGained Data for All Players in Round 2

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