2022 Valspar Championship Round 2 Picks: Sahith Theegala, Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson Among Best Bets Entering Friday
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Webb Simpson
- There's a four-way tie for first place after the first round of the 2022 Valspar Championship.
- But there's a whole host of players within striking distance of the lead, and further down the leaderboard is where the betting value can be found.
- Continue reading for three players Chris Murphy is buying entering the second round on Friday, and three players he's fading.
Following the never ending tournament at THE PLAYERS last week, it was good to see the first round go off in full, with only a slight delay for some very early morning fog. They were able to get out in some really nice playing conditions, and the players took full advantage. The average score on the day was just better than one stroke under par and by the end of the opening round there was a four-way tie at the top at 7-under.
Jhonattan Vegas set the pace early and charged out for the first 64 of the day, but he would be matched late by three others, including two prior champions of event. Defending champ Sam Burns was the next player in at 7-under as he closed with consecutive birdies to match Vegas. Later, 2017 champion Adam Hadwin would do the same along with David Lipsky.
The leaders won't have to look hard to see some of the top players in the world lurking behind them as Justin Thomas is just two shots back while Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen are all just three short of the lead.
It is no surprised that the big names are bunched near the top as the cream has always seemed to rise to the top at the Valspar Championship. I expect we will see them all jockeying for position going into the weekend, which makes for a great betting board as we look to break down the best buys and fades heading into Round 2.
Strokes Gained Explanation
Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is 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 just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.
3 Golfers to Buy in Round 2
It was really encouraging to see Webb Simpson come out with a strong opening round on Thursday. He was really sharp in all aspects of his game, tee to green, and was just a few putts short of an even better day to start his week.
We haven't seen much of Simpson at all on the course this year as back and neck issues lingered alongside some swing changes. He missed the cut in his return to play last week at Sawgrass, but the reps may have helped. Simpson gained 3.38 shots on the field tee to green in the first round with his 0.92 strokes gained off the tee being his worst of the three metrics. He tees off from the preferred morning wave on Friday and at +3500 he makes sense as a high quality add at a solid price before Round 2.
One of the stories of the early part of 2022 has been the youngster from Pepperdine, Sahith Theegala. The former Haskins Award winner has shown up at the top of the leaderboard at several points early in the year, most notably as he played from the final group at the WM Phoenix Open. He competed in that one against some world class competition down to the final couple of holes and I wouldn't be surprised to see him do that again this week at Innisbrook Resort.
Theegala started his tournament with a solid 4-under round and is just three shots back of the leaders. He gained right around a shot on the field in each of the tee to green categories, including a full shot on approach. I really like his start and position heading into his round on Friday morning, especially at the odds available. He is an understandable longshot to win at +11000 on DraftKings, which his worth a sprinkle, but I also like his +650 for a Top-10 finish.
Shane Lowry continues to hit the ball really well, as he has done throughout the start of this year. His round didn't produce the results, though, as he only got to a couple shots under par as his normally sharp short game let him down.
The Irishman has been one of the best players on TOUR with his putter this season, but he fell far short of that on Thursday as he lost 1.85 shots to the field on the greens. It's his nearly three shots gained ball striking that has me willing to buy in for a turnaround on Friday morning, as at +8000 on FanDuel he is priced in a range of solid value with three rounds still to play.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
As I noted in highlighting my buys going into Friday's round, play throughout the bag will be key and it starts with the irons. Davis Riley is the player who jumps out as one who was really off with his approach game in the first round, but really overcame those issues with a sharp putter.
Riley gained a field-best 4.54 strokes on the field with his flatstick on Thursday and that really boosted him to his current position at 6-under. He currently ranks 113th in Strokes Gained Putting this season and, oddly enough, has that same rank on approach. The putting performance in the first round certainly looks like an outlier and there isn't a whole lot to point to in expecting the iron play to turn around on Friday.
There aren't a lot of numbers to point to in expecting Danny Lee to fall back on Friday. He had a really solid round in a lot of his game, but as I dug through his results on the year it's hard to expect him to remain near the top of the leaderboard the rest of the way.
Lee has made just two cuts across his first five tournaments this year, with just one of those producing a result in the Top 25. He will go into Friday just one shot short of the leaders, but he will have the challenge of the afternoon winds. I expect we may see him regress back to the player he has been early this year as he plays his second round.
The big number that stands out in the strokes gained metrics for short game play is certainly with the three shots gained around the green by Matt Kuchar. He lost strokes to the field in both aspects of his ball striking on Thursday and was really carried by his chipping game, which included a hole-out for birdie on the Par 3 8th.
Kuchar is another player who has struggled early this year and especially lately. He has missed three of his last four cuts and has no finishes better than 67th in that stretch. I won't be in on Kuch until I see some consistency from him, and while the score looks nice from Thursday, there really isn't much to be excited about in the underlying numbers.