3M Open Round 2 Betting Tips Using Strokes Gained: Finau’s Tournament, If He Wants It

Credit:

Leon Halip/Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau

This seemed like the week for a longshot, and with Richy Werenski sitting atop the board after Thursday and Dustin Johnson withdrawing, that angle seems even stronger entering Friday’s round.

Tony Finau, currently just two back, is the favorite to win currently at 5/1 odds at DraftKings, followed by last year’s winner, Matthew Wolff, at 7/1 and Werenski down at 11/1.

Let’s make sense of Round 1 looking ahead to the rest of the tournament. But first, a note on Strokes Gained, which I’ll discuss a lot in this piece.

(Click here to skip to the analysis section.)

Strokes Gained Explanation

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is truly playing by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.

Using the millions of data points it has, 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 handle them 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 more stable long-term, and often you can find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well but just not getting putts to drop, which is more random. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

Read more about Strokes Gained here.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 2

Despite my note on longshots above, I am intrigued with some of the bigger names, and particularly Finau.

He’s really interesting, mostly because he doesn’t really get the respect a lot of top golfers in the world do. He hasn’t been able to close out tournaments at a consistent rate, so despite his amazing long-term metrics and talent, he doesn’t have the wins to accompany it — yet.

And that’s a narrative that is at least worth thinking about this week: While DJ wants to get right for the PGA Championship and some of the other golfers might be peaking ahead too, you have to wonder whether that’s a part of Finau’s psyche right now. Maybe he really wants to win this thing.

If so, he’s playing well and is an absolute dream fit for this course. I emphasized pre-tournament that Total Driving — which combines driving distance plus accuracy off the tee — will be paramount, and Finau is among the best in the world in that regard. He can gain a ton of strokes on the field with his driver, which keeps getting longer.

The other two guys I’m highlighting are Ryan Moore, who isn’t as long but is obviously very talented and seems to be striking the ball incredibly well right now.

And Brooks Koepka … well, it really depends on how much he cares about this tournament, doesn’t it? He actually played quite well on Thursday with every club but his putter. That would regress in a vacuum, but he needs to be dialed in. If he is, he’ll rocket up the leaderboard. If not, he could struggle to make the cut.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2

It’s really tough to find on Thursday afternoon fades — mostly because the obvious ones are way down the leaderboard and not really worth mentioning.

So I’ll stick to three guys who are in the lead or within three shots in Werenski, Brendon de Jonge and Bo Van Pelt.

First, Werenski: He actually had pretty solid numbers tee-to-green on Thursday, so this isn’t a complete fade. I don’t think he’s going to fall off a cliff over the remaining three days or anything; he’ll likely hang around the top-10 and possibly even contend.

But gaining that many strokes with the putter … that just isn’t going to sustain unless you’re prime Tiger Woods. So even if the ball-striking is real, the putter should regress him back towards the field, which is competitive around him.

The other two, de Jonge and Van Pelt, are a little different. They were also hot with the putter, but they didn’t really get it done with the rest of their clubs. My biggest fades after Round 1 are guys with mediocre to negative Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green numbers but really positive putting numbers. Those guys fit the bill, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them drop off tomorrow.

Alright, enough talk. Here’s the data for all players for Thursday.

Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 2

(Note: The graph below is interactive. Click/hover to see data.)

 

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