2022 Tour Championship Round 3 Buys & Fades: Scheffler Still the Man to Beat

2022 Tour Championship Round 3 Buys & Fades: Scheffler Still the Man to Beat article feature image

Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Scottie Scheffler

Just as it looked like Scottie Scheffler may lap the field to start the week, the birdies stopped. His final birdie came at the par-4 12th.

It was just about there where his playing partner, Xander Schauffele, began to ramp things up. Xander would close his day with two birdies and an eagle in his final three holes to cut Scheffler's lead to just two strokes heading into Saturday.

Those two are four shots clear of the rest of the field, and will pair up again for Round 3.

Jon Rahm's 7-under round was enough to move him into third, but it wasn't the round of the day, as Max Homa was one shot better with a bogey-free 62.

It's still essentially a two-player race in my eyes as we head to the weekend, but let's see if there is any value to be had before the start of the third round.

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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 3

Schauffele moving in close enough to Scheffler has made the odds on the leader palatable going into Saturday's third round. If you want to get some money in on the guy that I think ends the week with the title, this is the time, as at -125 on many books, there is arguably some value there.

If you've read along in this column this season, you know this is not something I do — certainly not with two rounds left — but this is a 30-player event with two players well out in front of the field.

I think we can effectively look at this as a match, and while Xander got the better on Friday, it wasn't as if Scottie played poorly — he just putted terribly.

I find it to be a great sign that he was still so strong tee-to-green, and I'll look for his putting to turn back in the right direction on Saturday. There's a chance for Scheffler to stretch this beyond his current two-shot edge by the end of the day.

It was a slow start to the week on Thursday for Patrick Cantlay — as he couldn't get anything going — but did manage to scrap his way back to even-par for the opening round.

He took that closing momentum from Round 1 and carried it right into Friday, as he shot a solid 4-under 66. But it could've been much better if his putter had cooperated.

Cantlay gained nearly five-and-a-half shots on the field with his ball striking, but gave some back around the greens and lost 2.63 strokes putting.

He has to feel confident with his game coming off of last week's win, and he could be in for a low one to move back into the top 3.

Looking down the leaderboard for a play that could be good in matchups or DFS on Saturday, I'm going to Jordan Spieth. He has his game trending in the right direction after improving with his irons by 1.42 strokes on Friday.

We have seen time and again where Spieth makes a move — with a low round to start the weekend. I don't think he can get in position to actually contend, but I do expect him to have plenty of looks at birdies in Round 3.

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3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

I gave him the pass in Round 1, but now after consecutive rounds of losing strokes to the field in both aspects of his ball striking, Cam Young hits the fade column.

He has managed to post 3-under 67s in each round despite his deficiencies tee-to-green, but I don't expect that can continue for the likely Rookie of the Year unless he finds his game ball-striking.

While Young is a short-game player, he can't continue to rely on his play on-and-around the greens to carry him this week.

The story is similar for Aaron Wise, who has been much better with his putting over the past year. It's still the worst part of his game, but this week, it is holding him up (T11 as they head to the weekend).

Wise has gained more than five shots on the field with the flat stick through just two rounds. If the ball striking that has him as a top-30 player in both metrics this season comes back, we might be talking about him in the mix for a top-five type of finish.

Instead, I believe he is destined to fade, as he has lost strokes to the field tee-to-green in each of the first two rounds, including lost shots in all three metrics on Friday.

The putter has to come back to earth at some point this weekend, and if it does — while his ball-striking game continues to struggle — he'll begin to fall from that spot currently inside the top 15.

J.T. Poston came out hot to start his first round on Thursday, but that turned the wrong direction over the back stretch of holes. He would ultimately lose just short of a full stroke to the field on approach, and that carried right into Friday, when he lost 2.13 strokes on approach.

He is a player that leans heavily on one of the best putting strokes in the game, but East Lake won't let you get away with poor tee-to-green play.

I'll put the fade in on Poston, as I don't think this is a course where his game can hold up with his ball striking struggling.

StrokesGained Data for All Players in Round 2

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