3M Open Round 3 Betting Tips Using Strokes Gained: Keep Buying Finau

Credit:

Jeff Gross/Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau

Round 2 is in the books, and we’re now down three of the tournament’s top-four players after the cut in Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood.

It’s a tie up top with Michael Thompson and Richy Werenski, but lurking right behind them is the fourth big name pre-tournament, Tony Finau, who has played very well despite some mediocre luck on the greens.

What should we expect for the weekend? Let’s break it down, but first a quick dive into Strokes Gained, which we’ll reference a bunch 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 3

In last night’s piece I wrote that this is Finau’s tournament, and I still believe that after Round 2. Thee books agree as well: he’s currently the favorite to win at DraftKings at +250 odds.

Perhaps that’s too steep to buy him to win, but it’s hard to ignore his play so far: He leads the entire field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. Well, sorry, “lead” is a drastic understatement — he’s dominating the field in that category, which I think is the most important of any metric right now.

He has gained a ridiculous 4.00 strokes with his approach, and we all know what he can do with his driver and distance in general. He’s actually been a negative on and around the greens, and he still sits just one stroke back after a 5-under round on Friday. Uh, yeah, I’ll buy that guy.

And as I wrote about yesterday, I’m not worried about the narrative with Finau. Sure, it’s close to a major, but Finau also doesn’t have the high-end success like Brooks or DJ; I wouldn’t be surprised if he really wants this one and pushes to add another win to his resume. He knows he’s too good to have just one win on the PGA Tour at this point.

The other two golfers I’m eyeing in the DFS and betting markets ahead of the weekend are Cameron Davis and Dylan Frittelli, who are second and third in SG: Tee-to-Green on the week. They have the same story as Finau: They’ve dominated with the important clubs but just haven’t gotten it going on the greens. I’ll buy the off-the-tee and approach games and hope the putting gets better rather than the other way around.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

That final sentence above leads me to a few guys I probably won’t be buying on the weekend, especially in DFS. Werenski, to be fair, has been largely fine tee-to-green, but fine won’t cut it the next two days. He’ll either have to step it up in that regard or continue the hottest putting in the field. If I had to bet, I’d wager he’ll come back to earth on the putter.

The two other guys I’ll mention are Xinjun Zhang and Nick Watney, who I just don’t believe have the firepower to get up to contention this weekend.

Zhang has been pretty solid tee-to-green this week, but compared to a lot of the guys around him on the leaderboard, he’s been merely fine with his approach shots. He’s gained quite a few strokes on and around the green, so if any part of his game falls off at all, he may not have the form with those crucial approach shots to put up big scores to contend.

Watney is a little different in that he’s gained most of his strokes with his approach shots and putter. The problem is that this course will require some firepower off the tee, and he’s been neutral to negative there. Long-term he’s really struggled to keep things in the fairway, which could be his undoing over the final two days.

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

Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 2

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

 

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