2022 Genesis Invitational Round 3 Buys, Fades, Betting Picks: Justin Thomas, Russell Knox Primed to Make Run at Joaquin Niemann
Michael Owens/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Thomas.
- Joaquin Niemann has opened up a two-shot lead after 36 holes of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.
- Only Cameron Young and Justin Thomas are within five shots of the leader, so can the Chilean be caught?
- Chris Murphy delivers his buys and fades for Round 3, including why he thinks Niemann could falter.
Yesterday, I went into this article with the thought that Joaquin Niemann would come back to the field or at least wouldn’t run away with the tournament. He didn’t fully run and hide on Friday, but he really only has one player within shouting distance through 36 holes.
The Chilean picked up right where he left off on Friday morning as he started his second round with an eagle and birdie to keep the momentum rolling forward from his opening-round 63. He would actually match that score once again and set a new tournament scoring record through two rounds at Riviera.
Niemann isn’t completely alone near the top of the leaderboard though as Cameron Young was one stroke better than the leader in the second round with a 9-under 62. He, too, beat the 36-hole scoring record at 14-under and will play from the final group on Saturday just two shots short of the lead.
Looking beyond these two outliers, Justin Thomas is the only other player double digits under par, and he’s five shots short of Niemann. Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa are the three that will make up the penultimate group in the third round, but they will start the day seven and eight shots back.
It’s certainly a big mountain to climb for the chasers going into the weekend, and they will likely need some help to get in the mix. This is a course that will challenge everyone over the weekend, but it is also one that isn’t too conducive to coming from well behind for a win. We will have to tread carefully in taking our chances this weekend at the Genesis Invitational.
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
The top player not named Niemann in my eyes has to be World No. 8 Justin Thomas. He has gained more than a shot on the field in every Tee-to-Green metric this week across both of the first two rounds. JT is simply dialed in with every club in his bag, and he even found his stroke on the greens on Friday.
He will start the day six shots back of the lead but gets a front row seat of the leader from the final group on Saturday. We know Thomas can go low at any given moment, and his presence in that final threesome will have both Niemann and Young very interested in what he is doing on moving day.
One player quietly having a really good week is Russell Knox. He has actually been striking the ball really well for three consecutive tournaments, as he has gained more than four shots on the field with his irons in each of his two prior events.
Knox has continued that strong play early in the week at Riviera and ranked third in the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green in the second round. He shot a 4-under 67 that left a few shots out there with a putter that lost strokes to the field. Knox was the second-best player on approach on Friday, and those irons are hot enough to carry him to a strong finish this week.
As Niemann has shown us this week, Riviera is a ball-strikers paradise. The players that have been best dialed in with their game in that metric are the ones having the best week so far. Sebastian Munoz certainly falls into that crowd, as he has been one of the best players in the field in the combination of off the tee and on approach.
Munoz was ice cold with his putter in the opening round, which left him starting slow, but he found it a bit on Friday. His 5-under 66 put him in a tie for 10th heading to the weekend. This is the third year in a row he is in the mix on the leaderboard going into the weekend at Riviera, and his numbers show he has staying power for a top-10 type of week.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
Joaquin Niemann has broken record after record to start this week. He matched the opening-round scoring record, then crushed the 36-hole record. He also posted the most strokes gained tee to green at this event with 6.87 gained on Thursday. From that perspective he was more than a shot-and-a-half worse on Friday, and he still was the best in the field. He’s simply rolling through the week, and I have no numbers to tell you it stops anytime soon, but let’s have some fun.
I’ll put the fade in on the Chilean, mostly for my personal entertainment in the hopes of having an exciting tournament to watch this weekend. His game certainly has been fun to watch over two days, but it’s hard to sustain that level of play across a full event. That’s essentially my analysis in this fade: It’s hard to play this well for four days, and Riviera is a course that will punish you when you begin to stumble.
Maverick McNealy checks in as a fade for me heading into the weekend in Pacific Palisades. He has lost strokes on approach in each of the first two rounds, including 1.83 shots lost with his irons on Friday.
We all know that McNealy can get really hot with his putter, especially on these poa greens, but it can only carry him so far. Right now, he is regressing on approach, and that simply won’t fly around Riviera. I’m out on Mav this weekend as he looks like a player set to tumble down the board as conditions get tougher.
The story for Peter Malnati is a similar one to that of McNealy. His numbers are even more dramatic as he lost shots to the field in both ball-striking metrics, but he still put together a 3-under round.
Malnati is also a strong putter, and that club alone has held him within the top 15 through two rounds this week. I feel pretty good in saying he won’t be able to stay there if he continues to lose more than two shots ball-striking the rest of the way. That’s what Malnati did on Friday, and it’s just not something he will be able to get away with over the weekend.