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2023 RBC Heritage Picks: Expert Projections Like These 2 Players

2023 RBC Heritage Picks: Expert Projections Like These 2 Players article feature image

Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Gary Woodland.

Masters hangover? Maybe. But there are no weeks off in the game of betting on golf, which is why this board being sticky in its pricing is that much more discouraging from a long-term edge perspective.

My model seems to believe that shops got the top-13 names correct from an order standpoint. We could discuss the minor differences in the hierarchy of that list or the exact numbers that would be fair if looking to wager on those names. However, it doesn’t remove the fact that proper pricing equates to inferior betting boards.

I note all of that since not every tournament requires the same exposure. Knowing where to pick and choose your spots is half the battle if you want to make money in this space. But let’s talk about a few of the highlights of this event and see if we can’t find an edge to exploit this week in various sectors.

If you haven’t already, you can find me on Twitter @TeeOffSports. There, I will provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user inputs to create custom golf rankings. That sheet is released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.

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RBC Heritage Thoughts

Tony Finau Continues To Be Undervalued

It is one of those spots where the head-to-head market has gotten this right, with Tony Finau slotting as a favorite over Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Cameron Young, Max Homa and Viktor Hovland at a handful of shops. That shows some support from him in various circles of the space, but I can’t say we have seen the same intrigue when looking at DFS or outright pricing.

The American has been generating this enticing statistical profile to begin 2023 (even though he hasn’t posted a top-13 finish in his past six starts). That is a weird way to look at his returns since we are still dealing with a golfer that has provided nine consecutive top-26 finishes to start the season. Still, the results have delivered an underwhelming output from bettors and gamers viewing this from glasses that are colored to show no upside.

I understand the disappointment since I have been driving this Finau train through every event so far this year, but we have reached an impasse where something has to give one way or the other. The 33-year-old ranks second in my model from the recalculated tee-to-green metric that I ran to mimic Harbour Town, and I think his skillset has marginally changed over the past few years for what he is as a golfer.

My two-year regression model has Finau ranked 33rd in this field for driving distance, a far cry from the version of him that used to grade inside the top 10 weekly, and the club-down nature of the track might suit his game more than some may believe. The numbers I used in my model ranked him third in weighted proximity from 125-200 yards (a range that receives a 10.7% increase in expectation), and when we add that to the combination of past Pete Dye success and ball-striking, the ceiling is higher than meets the eye.

I will be using the 14th-ranked golfer heavily in DFS for the combination he provides of safety and upside at ownership that barely eclipsed 10 percent. And I tend to think the drift we have gotten in outright value is worth a shot since my math believes he is sitting on a big result.

Vintage Gary Woodland Has Returned (At Least From a Ball-Striking Perspective)

The short game continues to rear its ugly head weekly, but Gary Woodland has put together a turn-back-the-clock version of his ball-striking totals to begin 2023. The 38-year-old has gained off-the-tee in 11 consecutive tournaments, including earning a minimum of 1.1 shots to the field in all those starts, and the approach play has delivered a mixed bag that randomly finds these spike weeks. We have seen nearly 65% of the aforementioned range yield a minimum of 2.2 shots with his irons to the field, and it is just going to come down to if he can make a few putts if he wants to find the winner’s circle again.

In my opinion, the small greens that reduce GIR percentage should benefit his game since his ability to use that to his advantage should be at full strength. The fact that putting becomes marginally reduced in that sense works all the better, but don’t be shocked if Woodland randomly pops up near the top of the leaderboard again. It doesn’t come without risk, but that is the case with any good upside golfer outside 100/1 on the board.

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