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2021 Fortinet Championship Round 2 Buys and Fades: Matsuyama & Rodgers Can Make Charge at Silverado

2021 Fortinet Championship Round 2 Buys and Fades: Matsuyama & Rodgers Can Make Charge at Silverado article feature image

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR. Pictured: Hideki Matsuyama.

In Round 1 of the Fortinet Championship, Chez Reavie captured the first-round lead by making birdie on his final three holes to post (-7) and put himself one clear of Cameron Tringale and Adam Hadwin. 

It was a strong opening for my three pre-tournament outright picks which you can find here. With Reavie in the lead (-7), Hadwin tied for second (-6), and Homa tied for fourth (-5), we are in a favorable starting position.

Needless to say, with three rounds remaining there is much to be determined, and it is a great time to scan the board for golfers who may be overvalued or undervalued in the betting market going forward.

Let’s take a look at the strokes gained data from round one to identify three buys and three fades for round two. 

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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 played 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.

Round 2 Buys

Hideki Matsuyama: After an abysmal ball-striking week at the TOUR Championship, Hideki was back to his sharp ball-striking in Napa on Thursday. His iron play was outstanding, gaining to +2.1 strokes on approach and 3.3 strokes ball-striking in Round 1.

Deki shot a -3 (69), but it could have been even better if he putted to field average; instead he lost 1.2 strokes on the greens. The Masters champion has struggled on the greens throughout his career but has actually been a decent putter on Poana. If he can get it rolling on Friday, he has the potential to go very low.

Patrick Rodgers: Rodgers is a golfer that really struggles at times from tee to green. If there is a consistent part of his game, it is his ability to make putts, especially on West Coast Poa greens. Therefore, if I told you he was -4 on his round Thursday and in a share for 10th place, it would be a easy to assume he has the putter going at Silverado.

However, so far this week the opposite is true. Rodgers’ ball-striking has been very good, and he ranks second in the field in Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking for Round 1 (+3.7). The former Stanford Cardinal is very comfortable on these greens, so I am a bit surprised he has been slightly negative with the putter thus far (-0.2). I expect that to change on Friday.

Brendan Steele: Steele played a decent round on Thursday, posting a -2 (70). It certainly could have been much better, but a few dropped shots on the back nine really hurt him coming home. The California native gained a solid 1.9 strokes from tee to green, but overall his statistics were pretty average across the board.

While that would be a concern for most golfers, Steele isn’t “most golfers” when he is playing at Silverado. A two-time winner of the event, Steele has shown he can compete at the course regardless of form. The fact that he is -2 and within a shout of the lead despite a very average day shows that he knows how to manage this course. Steele may not win this week, but this still feels like a buy-low spot on a guy who is certainly capable.

Round 2 Fades

Jon Rahm: Going into the tournament, I wasn’t high on Rahm’s chances of winning relative to his odds. While he is undoubtedly the best golfer on the planet right now, he is still human. Coming off of a grueling season where he finished second at the TOUR Championship just a few weeks ago, it wasn’t too far fetched to speculate that he may be a bit sluggish at Silverado.

Rahm can still get back into the mix this week as he is only seven shots back (E), but I wouldn’t bet on it. After the round he had made some discouraging remarks about his health and even started to question his own availability for next week’s Ryder Cup. I wouldn’t be surprised if the world number one catches an early flight Friday evening to regroup.

Will Zalatoris: Silverado has been a breakout spot for many golfers in the past, and after a posting a -4 (68) on Thursday, the general consensus may be that Willy Z is next in line. Not so fast.

What makes Zalatoris so intriguing as a talent is his ball-striking. Therefore, I was surprised to see that he lost 0.6 strokes ball-striking in Round 1 in addition to -1.9 strokes on approach. Most of Zalatoris’ scoring was done on the greens (+1.8 strokes putting) which is extremely uncharacteristic. I’d like to see some sharper iron play from the 25-year-old before considering him as a real contender this week.

Phil Mickelson: Phil put together a solid round on Thursday, finishing at -2 (70). His PGA Championship victory at Kiawah was one of the most spectacular major championships in the history of golf, but in relation to his 2021 season it was an outlier.

Lefty only has one additional top-20 finish in the past 13 months. Throughout that time, he has put some pretty solid rounds together but rarely has he been able to string them back to back. I believe it is likely we see from regression on Friday from Mickelson.

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