BMW Championship Round 2 Guide: How to Bet Using Strokes Gained

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Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy.

It was quite a turnaround for the players from the Northern Trust into what turned out to be a brutal test in Round 1 at the BMW Championship. Just three of the 69 players in the field finished under par on Thursday, with Hideki Matsuyama taking the overnight lead with a 3-under 67.

A couple of lesser-known players joined Matsuyama under par as Tyler Duncan shot 68 and MacKenzie Hughes finished with a one-under 69. A group of ten including Rory McIlroy and Tony Finau, shot even par, with everyone else over par after Round 1 at Olympia Fields.

We clearly have a very different tournament on our hands from the birdie-fests we have become accustomed to on TOUR since the restart. This change of pace should create opportunity in the betting and DFS markets throughout the rest of the playoff event this weekend.

Let’s take a look at the Thursday data and see who stands out for Round 2.

(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 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.

Read more about Strokes Gained here.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 2

Prior to the break, Rory McIlroy was one of the hottest players on TOUR, but he has really struggled to find his form in the restart. He was one of very few bright spots on Thursday as he finished Round 1 of the BMW Championship second in the field Tee-to-Green. The most encouraging part is his ball-striking was there both off-the-tee and on approach, where he gained more than 1.4 strokes on the field in both categories.

If Rory maintains this ball-striking and can improve upon the half stroke he lost putting in Round 1, he will be a good bet to put himself in contention for the weekend.

This event is shaping up to be tailor-made for Matthew Fitzpatrick, as he is a player that typically contends when par is a good score. Quite simply, he’s a grinder. He fit a similar mold as Rory on Thursday, where he was great tee-to-green, but just didn’t make enough putts to break par. The added bonus with Fitzpatrick is that he is one of the best putters on tour, ranking second in strokes gained putting on the season.

I love chasing a good putter that had an off day on the greens, but flashed with everything else. We saw that today with Fitzpatrick, and we know he can thrive in these conditions, all of which makes him a great play to target for Round 2.

Its always tough to know what to do with Bubba Watson when the TOUR goes to a new course, but you can usually find out quickly if it’s a “Bubba Track.” All signs seem to show that Olympia Fields fits his eye.

He led the field off the tee on Thursday, as he was dialed in shaping the ball throughout the course. He was fairly average with his irons, but it was a bonus to see him play well around the greens. In total he ranked sixth tee-to-green, but lost the eighth-most strokes putting on the day.

Bubba is still one of the top players in the game when he is comfortable at a course and all signs in Round 1 point that direction. His putting certainly held him back from a better day Thursday, but the ball-striking is there for a strong second round.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2

Through 18 holes Olympia Fields has shown to be a demanding course in all aspects of the game. It really showed its teeth off the tee, where players that got out of position were posed with brutal lies, trees and sometimes nowhere to go but sideways. Tony Finau found himself in many precarious positions off the tee, hitting just three fairways all day. THREE. Yet here he is, at even par, tied for fourth and three shots back of the lead.

He pulled off the feat by gaining 2.4 strokes putting, ranking third in the field. While he has improved his putting over recent years, it can’t be expected that he will keep up that pace on Friday.

Lanto Griffin was a similar story on Thursday, as his flat stick also carried him to an even-par 70. He really didn’t do anything with his ball-striking or around the green particularly well, ranking 35th, square in the middle of the pack, tee-to-green.

Our third fade for Round 2 is a similar story, just a bit more drastic with his ball-striking issues. Brian Harman came out of the gates firing, with a hole-out for eagle from the greenside bunker on his first hole. He followed it up with a solid birdie on No. 2 and appeared to be the pace-setter to start the day. Things quickly went in reverse with a double on No. 4, leading to a 2-over 72.

He currently stands tied for 21st, but the stats tell the story of a player that should be much further down the board. He lost strokes tee-to-green, including on approach and around the green, despite the hole out on No. 1. The putter really held him together today, but the troubles getting to the putting surface are the cause for most of the concern with Harman on Friday.

Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 1

 

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