2022 Fortinet Championship Final Round Buys, Fades: Homa in Position for Back-to-Back Titles
Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images. Pictured: Max Homa.
The experienced leaders in the final group on Saturday were stymied throughout most of their 3rd round, which allowed much of the field to gain ground on Max Homa and Danny Willett. They both shot just even par on the day and were passed by Justin Lower, who will take a one shot lead into the final round on Sunday as he seeks his first win as a professional.
Lower fired a 3-under 69 to take the lead as he went bogey free across the final nine holes and closed out the round with a birdie on the par 5 18th to take the outright lead. He'll carry a one shot advantage over the aforementioned Homa and Willett, while things bunch up behind them with eleven players within four shots of his lead.
As I mentioned coming into the round, this has been an event that has seen more success with players trailing the lead. Only one of the last seven winners of this tournament held the lead going into Sunday, and all of the trailers were multiple shots behind heading to the final round. It makes it a little easier to expect that trend to continue when it's a player like Lower, seeking his first win in eleven years as a professional, and it's likely the path I'll look as we go into the final round from Napa.
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 4
I am putting a target number of 15-under as the likely minimum needed to get maybe into a playoff, with 16-under having potential to win it outright. That leaves the players at 9-under in play for me as a 65 is out there, but I don't know that I would go beyond that for the winner. Certainly someone could just go nuts and post something really low to steal a shot at it, but I see enough value in the top 12 players that I'll keep my bets to that bunch.
It's not often we see Max Homa play that poorly when in contention. He has been a player that usually either has his game or he doesn't, and in the weeks he brings it, he is a threat to win. He looked nearly unstoppable on Friday, but really struggled to get anything going on Saturday. He still has to feel pretty good to be just one shot back and the odds on favorite to pull out the win.
I am a bit surprised that we are getting a number like +240 on DraftKings as it is much more "fair" odds than we usually see for a player that is a class above many of the other contenders. We should and will take it as the 29.4% implied probability is not far from where Data Golf puts him with a 27.8% likelihood to win. If you don't love going this short, then find your favorite NFL play and pair him in a parlay if you're so inclined.
The stat play I like going into Sunday is with Mark Hubbard. He is one of the few players that has shown positive trends across each and every round this week. His approach play is the best example there, as he has gained strokes with his irons in each round, but grew it to 1.19 shots gained in Round 3. Hubbard is seeking his first win as well, but doing so from 4 shots behind will allow him to focus on scoring and swing free which should help him in his Sunday round. He was able to put together a 7-under 65 toward the end of last season at the Barbasol Championship on his way to a 3rd place finish and at +5000 on FanDuel, it's worth a shot to see if he can do it again tomorrow.
Speaking of long odds for the group at 9-under, Austin Smotherman is essentially being dismissed. He's +7000 on FanDuel likely in part due to his inexperience in this position and his play that has been spotty this week. Even so, the SMU alum is talented and has posted low numbers at times over the past year. This is the type of event where we may see a guy be able to put together a round that has them in the hunt down the back stretch and at these odds, I'll just throw out the stats and hope he shows up with all of his game on Sunday.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4
I don't want to fade Justin Lower, if only because the story of a guy grinding it as a professional for eleven years before his first win is what makes the PGA Tour so great. He has just two top 10s in his career and is certainly in position to improve that number, but it just seems like all of the odds are against him for the win on Sunday.
As I noted, this is a course where the winners typically come from behind, and it is undoubtedly an unfamiliar position for Lower. He will likely have trouble sleeping tonight and the weight of the world on his shoulders when he tees off on Sunday afternoon. Still, he's the top player in this field tee to green this week, and if he can keep that going, he will have a chance to grab that win. I just don't see it for him in part because he has to stare down an accomplished winner like Homa all day long from the final group.
It's always tough to follow a great round with another one, and that's the task ahead for Davis Thompson on Sunday. He had it all going as he gained better than three shots on the field tee to green and 2.65 more with his putter. He'll need another strong day to really contend for the win and I just don't see him being able to follow it up. He had struggled the first two days, losing more than two shots to the field on approach, but was able to turn that all the way around on Saturday. He could certainly keep it rolling, but days like he had don't happen too often and I'll trust my gut that he ends up fading from the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday.
I've been successful in going against the struggling established veterans this week as Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker reverted to their recent form in the days I faded them. I'll look to take the sweep on Sunday with Rickie Fowler who has been one of the most volatile veterans with his play over the past couple of years. I'm probably being kind to Rickie saying he's been volatile, because he's mostly been quite poor with his play. It is certainly encouraging to see him put together a couple of good rounds this week and find himself just one shot outside of the top 10. I just haven't seen the consistency over an entire event or even consecutive rounds to expect him to hold it together on Sunday. I'll put the fade in on the man in orange and let him show us he can do it over an extended stretch before I buy in on any semblance of a turnaround in his game.