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2022 Wells Fargo Championship Round 2 Buys & Fades: Hughes, Homa Have Value

2022 Wells Fargo Championship Round 2 Buys & Fades: Hughes, Homa Have Value article feature image
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Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Mackenzie Hughes.

The return to TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm led off with a field of players who were rewarded with good shots and punished by poor shots. There were plenty of birdies available, but also bogeys or worse when the pros found themselves out of position.

Jason Day was the player rewarded the most throughout the day as he gained 5.9 shots on the field tee to green, including 2.26 on approach. His 7-under round of 63 led the way by one shot over Joel Dahmen, both of whom played in the afternoon wave. The morning group topped out at 5-under as a foursome of players, including Matthew Wolff, posted 65s. It’ll be the afternoon group with the tougher end of the draw on Friday as winds are set to pick up, but there is also a good chance of a wash out with more than a half inch of rain expected.

We’ll take a look at Round 2 with the anticipation they play and if they do, it will be a nice advantage to the morning players. I’ll be looking to buy on Friday with the a.m. wave and mostly selling from the afternoon group.

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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, 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 are just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high Strokes Gained: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

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3 Golfers to Buy in Round 2

I like taking a chance into Friday as we could see some tough conditions with rain and wind. There is even the potential for some start and stop in play. There is no telling how the players will handle it, but with a leader who has a history of injuries, any player within a handful or more of the lead is certainly viable.

MacKenzie Hughes is the one who stands out to me, just three shots back. He hasn’t had a great year and his results really aren’t indicative of his quality of play. The Canadian has one of the best short games on TOUR and when he hits his irons like he did on Thursday, he can contend for wins. I’m willing to jump in on him at +5000, hoping he can sustain those ball striking numbers and be in the mix throughout the rest of the week.

Max Homa was one of my buys for course fit coming into this Wells Fargo Championship and he didn’t disappoint with his opening round 67. It certainly could have been much better as he missed a short five-foot birdie putt on the 1st, then a double bogey derailed him on the back nine. Homa had it to 5-under on the day when he put up a six on the par-4 16th. He had troubles with two bunkers on the hole and it really speaks to how good his round was going before that hole.

I’m willing to buy in on Homa now, especially as he gets the preferred morning tee time on Friday. He’s +2700 on FanDuel, which isn’t far off from his closing odds before the tournament started.  He’s a player who gained more than two shots on the field tee to green on the day, despite losing that much on the 16th hole alone. He really just had one big mistake and if Homa can bounce back and eliminate those issues Friday, he will be in the hunt for his fourth win on TOUR.

One of my favorite cheap plays coming into the week was Austin Smotherman. He has a great combination of length and accuracy off the tee, alongside some sharp iron play to compete on this course. He ranked 13th in the field Strokes Gained: Tee to Green on Thursday, carried by some great iron play.

I expect Smotherman to be able to continue that momentum on approach as he plays from the preferred morning wave on Friday. If he can get the putter going just a bit better in the second round, he is a player who could position himself to be in the mix heading into the weekend.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2

The first fade for me on Friday is Matthew Wolff. I don’t want to punish him for being forthright, but it’s hard to ignore when a player comes out and says he played his home course prior to the tournament and lost every ball in his bag. I guess it isn’t overly surprising for a player who has been on both ends of the map dating back to the fall, with some low rounds followed by some of the worst in the field.

I’ll still let Wolff prove it to me as he hasn’t put together any full tournaments this year and has no finishes in the top 60. If they are able to play tomorrow afternoon he will be faced with tough wind conditions, which will only make things tougher for a player who has struggled with his game.

I can nearly take everything I just wrote and apply it directly to Rickie Fowler. His record is only marginally better than Wolff this year as he doesn’t have a finish inside of the top 40 in 2022. Even with TPC Potomac being a course he is familiar with and one where he has had some great success, I just can’t trust him across four rounds.

Fowler put his round together with a good day on the greens and on approach, but the iron numbers are a bit inflated by a hole out, for bogey no less, from 134 yards out on the par-4 6th. He put his drive in the penalty area and punched out from his drop to then hole out for bogey, which really kept his round together. The issue I see the most from Fowler is those big misses that can lead to big numbers. He just doesn’t have the consistency from shot to shot to remain in the mix across 72-holes.

Nick Watney is the player who sticks out as the most prototypical fade going into the second round. He lost shots to the field tee to green as he struggled to find his game off the tee. Luckily for Watney, his flat stick was on fire as he ranked second in the field on the greens en route to a 4-under 66. He will have to contend with some tough winds on Friday afternoon and with his ball striking in a tough spot, I’ll fade his ability to stay in position leaning solely on the short game.

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Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 1

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