AT&T Byron Nelson Round 3 Buys & Fades: Jordan Spieth Leads Options to Chase Down Sam Burns

AT&T Byron Nelson Round 3 Buys & Fades: Jordan Spieth Leads Options to Chase Down Sam Burns article feature image

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Spieth.

Things started much slower around TPC Craig Ranch on Friday as the morning wave played about two strokes tougher than it did to start the opening round. The field still averaged 1.51 strokes under par, but the scores weren't nearly as low. The afternoon tee times found a similar variance, though a few notable players were certainly able to take advantage.

In the morning it was K.H. Lee who matched his 65 in the opening round with another 7-under round on Friday. He set the pace by three shots over the rest of his wave, but by the end of the day he would be the player that was three shots behind.

The afternoon, and really the day, belonged to Sam Burns who fired a bogey-free, 10-under 62, his lowest round as a pro. He climbed to 17-under through 36 holes at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Burns wasn't alone in his afternoon firestorm of birdies, as Alex Noren also made a charge with an 8-under 64 of his own to join the leader in the final pairing on Saturday, just two shots back.

We have seen two days around TPC Craig Ranch, and there just isn't much that will stop these pros from tearing it up. Many players seemed to expect this to start the week and have said the only real defense for this course is the wind. There is a chance we see that on Saturday, and if it affects the afternoon more than the morning, it could result in quite a shakeup of the leaderboard.

I'm still looking for the chasers, hoping that we get a bit of a cool-off like we did from the leaders into Friday. There's still a lot of value in the betting markets, especially with a lot of separation between a few players at the top and the rest of the field.

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

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 3

I don't like going too far down the board into tomorrow, but the reality is that I have little to no interest in betting any of the guys at their current odds near the top. The first name I am stopping on is actually Jordan Spieth. He's near his pre-tournament odds of +1000 on nearly every book I checked, and it's hard to imagine he doesn't bounce back in a big way on Saturday.

Spieth continued to strike the ball well in the second round, but he really struggled with the flat stick, especially on short putts. He lost 1.49 strokes to the field on the greens, which is a very un-Spiethian, to make up a term. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Texan dial it back in quickly on moving day and put up a number that makes him a contender into Sunday at the Byron Nelson.

Both of my next two buys are going to be in the same spot as Spieth, six shots back, in a tie for sixth. Carlos Ortiz stands out with his 3.16 strokes gained on the field tee to green on Friday and nearly three-and-a-half strokes gained ball striking.

Ortiz benefited from a solid putter in the second round, but that was the second day in a row he has rolled it well. He seems to have a comfort level on these greens that will boost his strong ball striking throughout the weekend, making him an intriguing option at +2900 on FanDuel and certainly in DFS.

My final buy into the third round is with Patton Kizzire who is another player that has found a hot putter through two days at TPC Craig Ranch. It's a little less surprising that Kizzire has done so well on the greens, as he ranks 23rd on TOUR in strokes gained putting this season. The bigger category that was encouraging for Patton on Friday was his more than three strokes gained on approach. He will need more of that to make a move this weekend, but he contends when he has his game, and it appears this will be one of those weeks.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

I went here yesterday, and I am doubling down again today. I just can't wrap my head around Doc Redman gaining more than five strokes on the greens through two rounds, and I'm going to keep pressing against it heading into the weekend.

Redman was rolling on Friday at 7-under through his first 15 holes, before the short game reared it's ugly head. He hit a poor chip on his 16th hole, then missed the lengthy par putt. Next, on his 17th he had a look a birdie that he left a few feet short and missed the hole on that par putt as well.

As I mentioned in the writeup yesterday, I believe Doc has it in him to win, but I think it will be one with outstanding ball striking and a good enough putter to get it done. This week the ball striking is very average, and the putter is carrying him too much for him to hold near the top.

J.J. Spaun was a nice story on Thursday as he charged out to tie the opening-round lead, and now he will play with his co-leader from that round, Jordan Spieth, on Saturday. He's seemingly come out of nowhere to put himself in a top-five position on the leaderboard, but his lack of recent success has me fading his ability to sustain that spot this weekend.

Spaun wavered a bit in his second round on Friday, as he struggled to find his irons, resulting in losing strokes to the field on approach for the day. His approach play was his biggest strength in the opening round as he gained more than three strokes on the field in that category.

My concern is that I believe Friday's Spaun is the player we should expect this weekend, especially with the added pressure of a late tee time and playing alongside the hometown favorite in Spieth. J.J. has a big task ahead of him to handle some unfamiliar pressure and what should be some big crowds following along on Saturday afternoon.

The easiest fade into the third round is with Ted Potter Jr. as he has struggled to dial in anything outside of his game around the green. He lost more than two strokes to the field ball striking on Friday, but made up for it by gaining more than three back with his chipping game. If the winds pick up, I don't see how he hangs around the top 10 unless he finds the rest of his tee-to-green play in a hurry.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 2

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