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2022 Mexico Open Round 3 Buys & Fades: Na, Finau Ready to Climb on Moving Day

2022 Mexico Open Round 3 Buys & Fades: Na, Finau Ready to Climb on Moving Day article feature image
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Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau

Tournament favorite Jon Rahm took control of the Mexico Open on Friday, as his 5-under round moved him to 12-under on the week and two shots clear of the rest of the field.

He did drop a couple of shots this time around, but was mostly solid in pursuit of his first win since the 2021 U.S. Open.

Rahm is being chased by Alex Smalley, who had a 66 of his own in the second round to join the Spaniard as the only two players in double digits under par after 36 holes.

The leaderboard bunches beyond Smalley, as six players are at 9-under and six more are at 8-under through the first two days. TOUR winners like Cameron Champ and Patrick Reed are in that mix and can certainly make a charge at the No. 2 player in the world on moving day.

We will definitely go into the weekend with the expectation that this is Rahm’s tournament to lose, and it was arguably from the start of the week, as he was just +350 at some books.

He’s now -125 at those same shops, which, for me, really just provides some enhancement on the odds of the chasers that I’ll be looking at heading into the weekend in Mexico.

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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, 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 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

Brandon Hagy is the guy that sticks out at the top of the leaderboard for a combination of course fit, play and odds. He is a long hitter off the tee, and we are seeing some advantages of that with the names near the top through the first two days.

He has also gained better than five shots on approach through his first two rounds and paired it with a plus putter.

Lastly, Hagy is listed outside of the group within a few shots of Rahm’s lead, as he is +4100 to win on FanDuel. Those are the types of numbers I am looking for at long odds to run down the Spaniard.

If I’m looking down the leaderboard for a player that can climb his way up over the weekend and find himself in the mix for a Top-10 type of finish, I’m taking Kevin Na.

Na was mostly fine with his game on Thursday, but found another gear with things on Friday. He gained 6.3 shots with his ball striking in the second round, with 4.95 of those coming on approach.

The surprising big issue for him on Friday was struggles on the greens, where he lost more than two shots to the field. He is known first and foremost for that putting stroke, which I feel confident will come back together over the weekend to position him to move up the leaderboard if he keeps firing with his ball striking.

The next player even further down that I wouldn’t be surprised to see on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday is Tony Finau. Finau slid just a shot inside the cutline and sits at T47 on the week thus far, but he leads the entire field in Strokes Gained Tee to Green.

When I lay it out like that, we all know what is coming next, as he lines up as the second worst of the cut makers with his putting. Maybe he won’t figure these greens out this week, but with ball striking like that, it’s worth a shot to see if he can put a low round together and get in the mix for a top finish.

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3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

The climb back to form and simply playing at this level has been long for Trey Mullinax, who was out of golf after a freak accident in a Pro-Am just a few years ago.

He was a solid player on the TOUR at that time and is clearly playing some great golf this week in Mexico, as he’s just three shots off the lead in a tie for 3rd.

I’ll be rooting for the story of Mullinax, but I think it may be a little early to expect him to handle the pressure of the weekend once again.

The Alabama alum has missed two of his last three cuts and is still looking for his first finish inside the Top 25 this year. He did have a Top 5 back in the fall swing at the Sanderson Farms, so it may not be fully out of the expectation, but I’m not quite there to buy in based on his recent form overall.

Hank Lebioda is losing strokes to the field in both metrics of his ball striking this week, but finds himself inside the Top 10 after a fantastic putting round on Friday. He gained 4.13 shots on the field with the flat stick, as he holed 123′ of putts during the round.

We haven’t seen much out of Lebioda since a short stretch of good play last summer, as he is still looking for his first Top-35 finish of 2022.

It’ll be a bit of an odd feeling for him in a late afternoon tee time this weekend, and with him leaning heavily on the short game, I’ll be fading him in Saturday’s third round.

It was a bit predictable to see Ryan Blaum struggle on Friday, as he was the first man off of my fades list going into the round. He played about as I expected, even as he shot 1-under on the day.

He has now lost strokes to the field on approach in consecutive rounds, and finds himself firmly on the fade list for Round 3.

Blaum broke through earlier this year with his first win, but the numbers show a player set to drop down the board this weekend.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 2

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