2022 Tour Championship Round 2 Odds and Picks: Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa Building Momentum
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Pictured: Rory McIlroy.
The first round of the Tour Championship got off to a fast start as the early tee times put up some birdies in the soft conditions. That would be a theme throughout the day as seemingly everyone short of Patrick Cantlay played the opening round under par at East Lake Golf Club.
That group certainly includes World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who started the day with a two-shot lead and grew it to five after he posted the second-best round of the day at 5-under. Scheffler only had one blemish on the card and closed in impressive fashion with birdies on each of the final three holes. Play like that would be tough to beat in a normal week, but he’ll be especially difficult to catch this week because of his starting advantage.
Xander Schauffele will play with Scheffler on Friday as the Tour Championship realigns the tee times throughout the week. Schauffele’s 4-under 66 has him at 10-under and trailing by five. Matt Fitzpatrick and Joaquin Niemann will play from the penultimate pairing as they matched each other for the low round of the day with 6-under 64s. They are six and seven shots back of the lead and will need to continue that premier play to get in the hunt over the weekend.
This is a different week, so I expect things to be different in this column as well. I may focus a little more on the short term and look to buy odds in placement positions, but I’ll also be sure to point out any outrights worth a gamble.
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
No player was better on approach than Joaquin Niemann on Thursday. He gained 2.77 shots on this elite field with his irons, including on each of his final 10 approaches. That type of play can keep him in the hunt throughout the weekend, despite an eight-shot deficit heading into Round 2. We’ve seen him get hot at times this year and we know he has the talent to compete at a place like East Lake. I’ll be buying him into Friday in a lot of markets, but I will fall short of the +3100 price on FanDuel.
There’s something about Rory McIlroy and opening tee shots with Out of Bounds down the left side. He channeled his inner Royal Portrush on Thursday as he fired his first tee shot over the fence for a penalty. His opening triple bogey would put him in a tough position the rest of the day, but he seemed unfazed.
McIlroy would actually go on to bogey the second hole too, but would go 7-under over the final 16 holes to shoot a remarkable 67. I expect he will continue to roll into Friday, but the question is where to buy. I love him for all matchups and DFS. If you’re so inclined, the +1400 on PointsBet can be an option, but again, I’m treading pretty lightly here against Scheffler.
It was a slow start for Collin Morikawa on Thursday as he couldn’t quite get dialed in, despite a few of birdies on his outward nine. He was doing most of his early work on the greens as he waited to get his tee-to-green and approach game going. He would do that on the eighth, then really turned it up down the stretch, where he gained more than a tenth of a shot on six of his final seven holes. I continue to be bullish on the momentum Morikawa is building over the past few weeks. Like much of the field, it’s a stretch to expect him to win the event from 10 back, but I do like the +600 being offered on DraftKings for a top-5 finish. That feels long for a guy of Morikawa’s talent and he’s just three shots back from that position after Round 1.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
I feel I’ve been fading Sungjae Im in this spot every week lately and that may actually be true. When I see rounds like Thursday, where he lost strokes ball striking and tee-to-green, I am likely to put in the fade.
Im really struggled down the stretch of his round, losing strokes to the field on six of the final nine holes. His short game carried him on Thursday, but in order to stay on the first page of the leaderboard in this elite field, he’ll need to find the ball striking too.
We’ve seen a number of solid performances from Jon Rahm at East Lake, so I am pretty hesitant on this fade, but the numbers certainly support it. The Spaniard is in a classic fade spot after gaining nearly two shots on the greens while losing 1.49 shots to the field on approach. He didn’t just have a few bad swings, either. He lost strokes with his irons on nine shots, five of which lost more than a quarter of a stroke to the field. All of that lines up for a Rahm fade for me.
Coming into the week, I wondered if Scott Stallings would be able to keep the momentum going in his fifth straight week of tournament golf. He worked really hard to get into the field here at the Tour Championship and certainly that was his main goal. It was no surprise he came out a bit sluggish on Thursday and I could see it continuing the rest of the way at East Lake.
Stallings lost shots to the field in both aspects of his ball striking and tee-to-green. He lost more than two shots in both of those metrics. Those numbers, coupled with expected fatigue, are going to cause me to fade him into Round 2.
Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 1
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