2022 Houston Open Round 2 Odds & Picks: Jason Day’s Strong Play Continues in Texas
Pictured: Jason Day. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
The return to the states means a return to ShotLink and strokes gained data, which gets us back to the traditional buys and fades this week. Four players are at the top in SG: Total to start the week as Tony Finau headlines the group of players at 5-under after the opening round.
However, Alexander Tyson could break up that group as he still has one hole to go after Thursday's play was suspended due to darkness. Tyson is one of 13 players still on the course who will finish on Friday morning before rolling into the second round.
Alex Noren and Aaron Wise were the players from the morning wave in the first round who also opened with rounds of 66. Overall, the field shot more than a half stroke over par on Thursday, with 52 players posting scores in the red.
This is a course that will challenge the players throughout the week and I'll take some shots on more talented players who got off to slower starts. We also have the data to help us find some guys who may be hitting it well, but are in need of some positive regression on or around the greens.
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
We have to adjust our mindset a bit in weeks like this where a player several shots behind in the past two weeks, needed a lot of help to go super low and erase a deficit. This is a much different course in that the really low scores aren't going to be shot by multiple players. And, as World No. 12 Sam Burns showed us, a big score can happen too. I'll be more willing to take long shots this week going into Rounds 2 and 3 because we don't need them to be perfect.
We have consistently seen the talent of the Korn Ferry Tour grads flash each week this fall. We haven't seen that big win just yet, but there seems to be a player in the mix in every tournament.
The player from that group of KFT players who stands out for me after the first round is Carl Yuan. He was the top player in points at the end of the season last year on the Korn Ferry, but has struggled with three missed cuts this fall on the big stage. Yuan started this week gaining 2.82 shots on approach and I'll quickly jump on board as I know the talent is there and the books are slow to give him credit. He's +7500 on DraftKings from just two shots back.
I've always been a fan of Jason Day and have just rooted for his success over the years. It's been a struggle for him recently, but it's encouraging to see him showing some really good form this fall. He was T21 last week in Mayakoba, but before that he had consecutive top-11 finishes where he gained more than nine shots on approach. He showed that form again on Thursday as he gained 2.41 shots on the field with his irons and struggled to convert on the greens. I will always believe he has the upside for the putter to carry him during any given week and I'll lean on that again here in Houston as he seems to have found something with his ball striking.
One player who fits the mold to be able to incrementally move up over the next three rounds is Robby Shelton. He closed the day with a 1-over round, but that was a much better result than how things looked after he stumbled to five straight bogeys across the middle of his round. Many of his issues during that stretch were on the greens as he lost more than three strokes to the field with his putter on Thursday. He would close his final seven holes with three birdies to get back to 1-over. I know Shelton has the talent to be a factor in a week like this and despite his struggles, he's in a pretty good spot at just six shots back. If he can find the putter on Friday, he certainly has most everything else going in the right direction after gaining 2.93 shots tee to green.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
While I'm buying one Korn Ferry grad above, I'm going to put a fade in on another. I was surprised to see Tyson Alexander at the top of the leaderboard as he has struggled this fall. He ranks outside of the top 180 in both categories of his ball striking, even in a short eight-round sample. I think it'll be a long night's sleep for him on Thursday night and that could carry into some struggles Friday in Houston.
David Lipsky is a player who we have seen flash in recent months with some solid form. He put it together for a solid top-10 finish last week in Mexico and has carried some momentum through a strong opening round in Texas. My concern with Lipsky is more about how he got it done in the first round as he gained more than three shots on the field around the green. He only hit two-thirds of his greens in regulation on Thursday and lost strokes to the field overall with his ball striking. I'll fade that combo going into Friday, despite his solid recent form.
I'm a glutton for punishment, so I'll go back to the guy who burnt me earlier this year and close the final pick of the fade with the 4.23 SG: Putting by MacKenzie Hughes. The Canadian broke through for a win earlier this fall at the Sanderson Farms. Still, the numbers say this type of putting performance isn't sustainable, especially as he gained less than a half stroke on the field tee to green. I'll cautiously go here again and look to fade the short game magic of Hughes on Friday.