2022 Memorial Round 2 Buys & Fades: Buy Value Heading into Friday
(Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Pictured: Sahith Theegala.
The drama never stops on the PGA Tour as there were storylines abound off the course to start the week and they were present on the course as play started at Muirfield Golf Club on Thursday. Hideki Matsuyama was the biggest headline of the day as he was disqualified due to a non-conforming club in his bag. He had some lines painted on his 3-wood, which were deemed illegal. It was a sour story in an otherwise great day of golf to open Jack’s Tournament at the Memorial.
Cameron Young picked up where he left off — coming off a T3 finish at the PGA Championship — as he charged out of the gates to an early lead. Young would stumble a couple of times on his way in, but still retained a spot at the top after his opening round 67. Three other players, including Cameron Smith, would match him in the morning wave. MacKenzie Hughes and another budding young star, Davis Riley, also joined the fray at 5-under.
There were 47 players who shot under par in the first round as the course was soft from overnight rain on Wednesday. I expect to see things dry out and become more difficult as play continues into the weekend. We should have some good betting opportunities heading into Round 2 as so many players are bunched within a handful of shots.
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
The player who stands out the most after a strong opening round, alongside some solid odds has to be Sahith Theegala. We know from his play early this season that he can step up and contend in difficult fields as he held the lead through 70-holes at the Waste Management in February. He has the experience of being in this position and it’s a great sign to see him playing well again as he gained 4.39 shots with his ball striking on Thursday and had 4.99 SG: Tee-to-Green.
It’s certainly a longshot to expect Theegala to capture his first win on a course that generally lends itself to the elite names in the game, but we have seen him get out to fast starts several times this season and each one of those have led to solid finishes. Theegala tends to hold his game together when he has it to start the week and I like the fact that he will get to keep the momentum going in the morning on Friday. I’ll be favoring him in matchups and placement position bets going into Round 2, but at +7000 on FanDuel and just one shot back, he’s worth sprinkle for the win too.
There are some big names that lurk at 3-under, but rather than dipping down for them at half the odds, I’ll take a shot on an upper-tier ball striker like Corey Conners. It’s been an up-and-down year for the Canadian as he hasn’t always had his reliable ball striking, but he certainly brought the irons with him on Thursday.
Conners gained 4.68 shots on approach in the first round, which was the best in the field and more than a shot better than everyone except K.H. Lee. Conners would lose much of that on the greens — as he tends to do — but on a course where we have seen many players who are below average on the greens, he can contend solely off of his ball striking prowess. I’ll take a shot here on Conners for a top finish and don’t mind the +2900 outright odds on FanDuel.
There are some big gaps in the odds going into Friday and they seem to be a bit heavy toward the morning tee times. We almost always prefer the morning guys, but without anything on top in regard to weather, it seems a bit heavy handed. I would rather take a shot on Daniel Berger at +6000 on DraftKings than Sungjae Im at the same score but half the odds.
Berger had a long hole-out eagle on his third hole of the day to get his round started. It was a bounce back from an early birdie and it kicked things in the right direction and he finished at 2-under on the day. We haven’t seen the best play from Berger in recent weeks, but a lot of it has been around his putter, while his irons have had peak moments. Berger had it all working Thursday, which could be a good start for a player who is elite when he’s on his game. The odds for me are just too long for a player of his caliber from just three shots back.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
It’s always a bit nerve wracking to write Denny McCarthy as a fade based on a hot short game as that is simply what he does well. He is not a ball striker, but rather someone who runs hot both on and around the greens. Muirfield Village is a course that historically plays heavily toward the ball strikers rather than the short game magicians. I’ll stick with the trends on that side and put in an early fade on the only player inside the top 20 who lost strokes to the field on approach on Thursday.
The most glaring fade going into Round 2 is definitely Matt Kuchar. He is another player I feel I’ve put in this category quite a bit lately as his recent results have been carried by his putter and overall short game.
Kuchar had the 11th worst round on approach Thursday as he lost 2.44 shots to the field with his irons. He made up for that in a big way with better than five shots gained on and around the greens, including a chip in birdie on the par-4 17th. If he doesn’t find more fairways and greens with his play on Friday, he will be a player who will begin to tumble as the short game will only carry him so far at this tournament.
Billy Horschel is a streaky player and he hasn’t been on the good side of the streak lately. He posted a 2-under 70 to start this week, but he still didn’t have things going with his ball striking. He lost strokes to the field on approach and needed the short game to save him time and again. Similar to the two above, I’ll take my chances that if Horschel doesn’t find it on approach he’ll struggle to maintain his position on the leaderboard.