Charles Schwab Challenge Round 3 Betting Tips: Using Strokes Gained to Find an Edge

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Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Scottie Scheffler

My theory in yesterday’s piece entering Round 2 Friday was that golfers that just didn’t have it Thursday weren’t as likely this week to turn it around to make the cut on the second day.

There were so many uncertain factors going into the start of the tournament that you definitely had to put more weight into a one-round sample size than I would usually suggest.

Be careful with conclusions after just two days ago, but that theory at least somewhat held up: Among the high-end golfers who struggled on Thursday like Webb Simpson, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson, they weren’t able to put together good enough second efforts to play this weekend.

Of course, there were some stellar performances Friday, notably Rory McIlroy, who was able to put up a 7-under 63 to get back into contention. Jordan Speith and Bryson DeChambeau were able to keep things rolling, both putting up -5 scores to get to -10 for a share of second place.

Remember that golf can be very random and difficult to predict. Take Abraham Ancer, for example, who led the entire field after Round 1 in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and then was merely neutral today. Joaquin Niemann, one of worst golfers in that metric Thursday was the third-best Friday.

I’ll still take the same approach looking towards the weekend — identify those golfers who are approaching greens really well and putting themselves into good positions while fading super-hot putting — but know while that strategy might work on average, one golfer on one day might not fit that trend.


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Golfers to Buy, Fade in Round 3

One of golf’s premier up-and-coming golfers, Scottie Scheffler barely made the cut with a 1-under round today. But that really undersells his ball-striking, which was outstanding: He was second in the field behind only Rory in SG: Tee-to-Green and really dominated with his approach shots. If he hadn’t lost 2.93 strokes putting, he would’ve put together an awesome round.

It’s the same story honestly for another young golfer in Sungjae Im, who finished seventh in the field in SG: Tee-to-Green but lost 2.45 strokes putting the ball. He also shot just 1-under today but could easily be in contention if a few more putts had gone his way.

Chesson Hadley and Gary Woodland are two other golfers who finished in the top-10 in SG: Tee-to-Green today but lost strokes putting the ball.

Justin Thomas is an interesting guy for the weekend: He’s in a sneaky spot in seventh place right now, and he put together another great performance today with his irons. He was neutral around and on the greens, which contributed to his good-but-not-great -2 score today. The leaderboard is absolutely loaded with huge names in Rory, Bryson, Spieth, Xander and Morikawa, but JT could get as hot as anyone over the weekend.

The following players lost at least one stroke tee-to-green today but still snuck into the cut line: Alex Noren, Adam Schenk, Jhonattan Vegas and Bronson Burgoon. It’s difficult to see them fighting their way back into any semblance of top-10 contention at this point.

Among the hottest putters Friday — if you are on “Team Putting Is Random” then these are guys to fade over the weekend — include Richy Werenski, Zach Johnson, Zac Blair and Harry Higgs.

And we’re burying the lede here: Right there among the hottest putters today is Harold Varner III, currently leading this tournament. He gained 2.78 strokes putting but just 1.31 tee-to-green. He’s been an awesome story, but with the huge names surrounding him, I don’t find much value at 11-1 at DraftKings on him to win the tournament.

Among all the bets I’m seeing posted at DraftKings for the weekend, two I’m eyeing are 1) Scottie Scheffler +700 ($10 bet wins $70) to make the top-10 and 2) Bud Cauley +100 over Maverick McNealy.

Scheffler is No. 1 in the field through two days in total SG: Tee-to-Green, and while his position at -3 is probably too far back to win against this loaded field, I think he’s playing well enough to make into the top-10. At 7/1 odds (he’s even better at +850 at FanDuel, for what it’s worth), that’s a really nice price. Regarding Cauley, he’s been the better golfer this week slightly than McNealy, who is the listed favorite.

Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 2

(Note: The graph below is interactive. Click/hover to see data. You may need to zoom [control and + sign] to see better.)

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