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2022 PGA Championship Round 2 Buys & Fades: Cameron Smith, Tony Finau Provide Value

2022 PGA Championship Round 2 Buys & Fades: Cameron Smith, Tony Finau Provide Value article feature image
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David Cannon/Getty Images. Pictured: Cameron Smith.

The first day of the PGA Championship belonged to Rory McIlroy as he came out of the gates looking like the 23-year-old version of himself that won this major by eight shots in 2012. He cruised to a three-shot lead at 6-under par through his first fourteen holes. McIlroy would come back to earth a bit on his way in as he bogeyed two of the next three before a birdie left him with an opening round 65.

His lead quickly narrowed when he stumbled a bit over his final few holes as both Will Zalatoris and Tom Hoge finished 4-under on the day. Overall, only about a quarter of the field made it home in par or better, with the field playing Southern Hills to an average of 2.81 shots over par in the opening round. It was a tough day for all, but the morning wave played about a stroke better than those with afternoon tee times on Thursday and with high winds expected Friday morning, the scoring gap between the waves may grow even further.

I am looking to fully embrace the tough scoring and high winds of Friday morning as I identify buys from the afternoon tee times in the second round. Wind gusts are projected up to nearly 50 MPH in the morning and that may wreak havoc on a track that has shown its teeth early in this PGA Championship. Let’s see who stands out as we head into Day 2 from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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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, 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

 

There was a lot of reasons to like Cameron Smith coming into this week as his game seems well suited for the test at Southern Hills. He didn’t disappoint on Thursday, but it certainly wasn’t a perfect round either. The Australian stumbled on his third hole of the day as he missed the green and struggled to find the putting surface. His double bogey put him behind early in the round and two more bogeys on his outward nine had him 2-over at the turn.

Smith quickly dialed it in on the back nine as three straight birdies got him under par and he would also go on to gain one more shot on his way into the clubhouse. Despite some of his struggles, Smith still got out of the round gaining 4.41 shots on approach, the best in the field. He will be one of my favorite buys going into Friday afternoon and while the +1200 feels a bit short this early in the tournament, it’s a reflection of his form and the added bonus of being on the better side of the draw.

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If you’ve seen anything from me this week, you know I really liked Tony Finau coming into the event. He didn’t do much to change my opinion Thursday as he gained more than a shot on the field in every metric tee-to-green. His 3.94 shots gained in that metric ranked 12th in the field on the day and it was just a poor putter that left him short of finishing better than 1-under par.

I’ll admit, his putting was hard to watch at times. He simply couldn’t find the line on the greens, especially early in the round. He managed to squeak out two birdies versus just one dropped shot, which came on his opening hole. Finau’s best putting surface is Bentgrass — and it’s not particularly close — so I am hoping he can find some comfort on these greens as the week continues. He’s +4100 to win on FanDuel and at just four shots back, he presents some value in all markets going into Round 2.

The long shot I would take going into Friday is Cameron Young. FanDuel has him at +15000 to win and that’s a viable number from six shots back with 54 holes still to play. Young has shown an ability to go low throughout his first full year on TOUR and is one player who could move into the mix going into the weekend.

The Wake Forest alum gained 3.72 shots on the field tee to green Thursday, with his typical strength, off the tee, being the weakest part of his game during the round. He still gained nearly a full shot on the field in that metric, but his putter gave nearly all of those back as he lost 1.90 shots on the greens. I’m going to sprinkle him as a long shot to win, but Southern Hills has proven to be a tough course to win from behind, leaving my main focus for Young to be in the top 20 and top 10 markets.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2

 

Let’s take a big leap early this week. I’m going to put the fade in on Justin Thomas mostly because he will once again be stuck on the bad side of the draw, but also due to the 3.19 shots he gained putting on Thursday.

The truth is he was due for a good putting day and, frankly, a good week. My issue is that he needed every bit of it in the round and really peaked as far as getting the best score out of his play. Thomas was one of the bottom three of the top 15 in SG: Tee-to-Green on Thursday and will be facing some really strong winds to start the morning. He ranks 82nd this season in putting, which can lead us to expect that part of his game to crash back on Friday. However, he also has a tendency to get loose off the tee, as shown by his 120th ranking in fairways hit on Thursday. That combination could spell trouble for him in Round 2.

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Lucas Herbert is the first name who stands out for me as a fade going into the second round. The only hesitation I have is that what he did well on Thursday is just how he has success. The Australian gained more than four shots on the field with his short game, including 2.79 on the greens. He has had success relying on this aspect of his bag in the past, highlighted no better than with his top 7 finish at the Arnold Palmer, where he lost 4.1 shots ball striking.

I’ll still jump in on him as a fade, but don’t be surprised if he continues to roll it well. He has just that one finish inside the top 35 this year, with half of his events ending in a missed cut. I just don’t think he will be able to get by on spotty ball striking on this track and in this field the rest of the way.

Patton Kizzire is my final fade going into Friday as he fits what I am looking for in that category for the second round. He lost shots to the field off the tee on Thursday and only gained less than half of a shot tee to green. He relied almost entirely on his putter to get to his position at 1-under and that certainly is the strength of his game. I just don’t trust him to have enough in the other three metrics across four rounds on a demanding course to hold his position within the top 20.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 1

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