2023 WM Phoenix Open Round 3 Odds, Picks: Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Thomas Have Value
Pictured: Tyrrell Hatton. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
This is the first week in which we get the whole field on one course, with shot tracker, and it’s a great tournament to get that start. We have the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked players in the world leading an elite field at TPC Scottsdale as defending champion Scottie Scheffler blitzed his way to the front of the pack with a 7-under 64 on Friday. He has a two-shot edge over Jon Rahm, who had a solid 5-under round of his own. There are plenty of chasers within a few shots of the lead and many of them still have holes to play in the second round after it was suspended due to darkness before the afternoon wave finished.
Adam Hadwin still has most of the back nine to play and is two shots short of Scheffler, while Sungjae Im, Jhonattan Vegas, Sam Ryder, Nick Taylor and Xander Schauffele are all also still on the course and within four of the lead. Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are both 5-under on the day with five plus holes to play, making for an unknown leaderboard as Saturday turns to Round 3.
I am hoping the unknown will lead to some betting opportunity as we evaluate some partial Strokes Gained data for my Round 3 Buys.
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
We knew coming into the week that Schauffele would be near the top of this leaderboard. He continues to do it year after year at this tournament and is certainly showing no ill effects from the back injury that caused his withdrawal from the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Schauffele is second this week in SG: Ball Striking, trailing only Scheffler in that metric. Schauffele will start Saturday with an eagle putt on the 13th green from just over 49 feet and should walk away from the hole with at least a birdie.
Assuming he does that, he will have a great start to his morning and be just three shots back of the lead as he heads into some more scoring holes to finish out his second round.
Schauffele, for me, has the best value as we go into the weekend. I love his combination of play and comfort at this course. I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger at +650 as I prefer looking for long shots going into the weekend, but I do have some interest in sprinkling him to be the leader after Round 2 on DraftKings (+2200).
He’s got an eagle putt and crazier things have happened than a nearly 50-foot putt being made. Realistically, he probably walks off of that hole with a birdie and needs three more across the final five holes to catch Scheffler, and four to pass him. Three of those final five holes are playing under par with the Par-5 15th being another potential eagle opportunity.
I would personally prefer a small wager in that market, rather than buying in at a really short number on a course where we have seen many players come from behind to win.
Tyrrell Hatton quietly closed out 2022 on a high note with a T2 finish at the DP World Tour Championship and has carried that form right into the new year. He has four top-10 finishes in his past seven tournaments and is in good position for another this week in Phoenix. Hatton sticks out for me as a player with the best combination of top-level ball striking and betting opportunity. He’s +8000 across nearly all books.
The Englishman ranks 5th in SG: Ball Striking (SG: Off the Tee + SG: Approach) through his first 28 holes played. He is still on the course playing his second round and has already hit the two most dangerous shots on the course as he got off the tee and onto the green to start his day with a 21-foot birdie putt at the Par-4 11th.
He will have a look to immediately move up from his position at 3-under, but regardless of that result, he is heading to the scoring part of the course.
Hatton is typically better known for his short game prowess, but this week it has been his ball striking that has impressed while his putter and around-the-green game has fallen short. If he can find his way back to being the player who was ranked 4th in SG: Putting last season, while keeping his ball striking steady, he has a chance to move into contention going into Sunday.
If odds open for top-10 placement before Saturday morning, that’s where I would look first. But at his current number, he’s worth a long shot dabble to win as well.
As I turn toward another long shot, I think it is important to remind everyone that Scheffler was nine shots behind Sahith Theegala going into the third round at TPC Scottsdale just last year. In 2021, Brooks Koepka was five shots behind going into the final round of his win. This is a great course for players to come from behind, even when trailing an elite pair like Scheffler and Rahm.
All of that being said, I don’t hate a stab at Justin Thomas. He hasn’t had his best stuff for a little while now, but the signs were certainly there Friday as he strung together a few birdies as bounce backs off of a couple of ugly bogeys.
His numbers don’t show just how well he hit the ball at times and his worst shot of the day by the numbers was his tee shot on the par-3 12th, which was a really solid shot that took an unlucky turn to the water. That swing alone lost him .81 shots to the field and really kept him from standing out in the ball striking metrics.
We know Thomas has it in him to go really low at times, as he did in a similar position when he won the Players Championship a couple of years ago. I’ll always buy on his scoring ability and at +12500 on Caesars, taking a shot that he can move into the mix with a low round Saturday doesn’t cost us much.
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