2022 Travelers Championship Round 3 Odds & Picks: Buy Rory McIlroy to Bounce Back
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Pictured: Rory McIlroy.
It was a tale of two nines for Rory McIlroy on Friday as he was the story of the second round of the Travelers Championship. He was cruising right along after a 31 on his opening nine holes and another birdie at the par-3 11th. He then inexplicably lost much of his good work on the 12th hole right as I praised him on Twitter. Some are blaming me for the snowman he posted and the four dropped shots that eventually put him back where he started the day at 8-under.
The day instead turned into a big one for Xander Schauffele, who ran away from the field and has a five-shot lead through 36 holes after he matched his opening round 63 with another on Friday. He’ll get paired with his best friend on Saturday in the final tee time as Patrick Cantlay is his lead contender at 9-under on the week. Cantlay leads a group of five players, which includes defending champion Harris English, at that score through two rounds.
Schauffele’s struggles closing out leads has been well documented in recent years, meaning we may be in for an interesting weekend at TPC River Highlands. The Olympic Gold Medalist will look to capture his first solo TOUR win since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions. This could go a long way toward getting the monkey off of his back if he can get it done this weekend.
I’ll certainly be looking to buy the chasers as we roll into Saturday and I’m hopeful Schauffele’s big edge will give us some good odds. Let’s take a look at how the data stands as the tournament heads to Moving Day.
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
The interesting part of this type of scenario is that if you’re betting down the board and saying that Schauffele won’t get it done, then it really brings a ton of players into the mix. There are 22 players within three shots of second place as they go to the weekend. We’ve got a mix of up-and-comers and more established names in that group and I’ll try to target one of each.
If we are looking for a big name to chase down Schauffele, my eyes are on McIlroy. I know he’s probably dragging a bit in his fourth straight tournament and after a disappointing and shocking day on Friday, but it’s impossible to ignore the rest of his play. He’s been phenomenal outside of those two holes and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it spark him a bit Saturday. I’m not exactly running to buy him at +800, but I think others may go a little too heavily on the narrative for DFS and possibly in odds for matchups in Round 3. I’ll take my shot McIlroy bounces back and only part of that is feeling bad because I totally mushed him on Friday.
Sahith Theegala sticks out for some value for me at 8-under as he is six shots back going into Saturday. He is listed at +5000 at most books and is a player who has shown the ability to contend in the weeks that he brings his game. He was right there early in the year at the Waste Management and this could be another good experience mark for him if he can stay in the mix this weekend. Theegala gained better than three shots on the field on approach in the second round and only lost strokes on four approach shots throughout the entire round. If he can keep that going and put it together with a hot putter, he can put himself in one of the final groups going into Sunday.
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Brendan Steele is the buy I am looking at further down the leaderboard as he has been really solid throughout the start of the week tee to green, but is still searching for it a bit with his putter. He ranks third in the field in SG: Tee-to-Green and was the best on the day on Friday. He shot a nice 4-under 66, but his better than three shots lost on the greens highlights just how strong of a round it could have been.
Steele was a popular pick coming into the week off of consecutive top 10 finishes and he is now positioned to have a shot at another. That’s the market I would look at for him as well as any short term matchups and DFS going into Saturday.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
I’m doubling down on English. I still have the exact same concerns for the defending champion after Round 2 as I did after the first day. He is relying almost entirely on his short game to keep him in the hunt and unless he finds something on the range with his ball striking, it’s hard to imagine that turning. English has been out of the game for a long time and the added pressure of a late afternoon weekend tee time will only put more weight on that putter. I just don’t see him sustaining his spot at this stage, but it is certainly a good sign for him turning things around going forward.
JT Poston looks like the player most likely to fall from the top 10 as we head into the weekend. He stormed out in the opening round and came back to earth a bit on Friday. His issues have always been around the ball striking as he just needs enough to get him on the greens to use that usually hot putter. Unfortunately for Poston, getting to the green started to become an issue in the second round. He lost nearly a full stroke to the field tee-to-green on Friday and really struggled to get off the tee. I expect we will continue to see him slip as play heads into the weekend in Cromwell, CT.
There are going to be a number of players who will be able to jockey for position up the leaderboard this weekend even if they aren’t likely to win. Placement position markets will be a great spot to take advantage and finding the fades is just as important as finding the buys. Wyndham Clark and Thomas Thorbjornsen are two guys who stick out as fades for Saturday. I’ll highlight Thjorbjornsen since he’s further up the board, but both players are in similar positions.
Thjorbjornsen has relied mostly on his short game and driver this week. He has seemingly rolled in every putt needed as he is losing strokes on the field on approach. I expect we see him and Clark drop away from the top 20 the rest of the way at the Travelers.
StrokesGained Data for All Players in Round 2
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