2021 Fortinet Championship Round 3 Buys & Fades: Maverick McNealy Will Be Caught

2021 Fortinet Championship Round 3 Buys & Fades: Maverick McNealy Will Be Caught article feature image

Meg Oliphant/Getty Images. Pictured: Maverick McNealy.

In Round 2 of the Fortinet Championship, Maverick McNealy raced out to a two-shot lead by shooting a lights-out 64 (-8). He played his last six holes at -6 to give him a two-shot cushion over Beau Hossler and Mito Pereira who sit at -10. 

The course toughened up in the afternoon with the wind in the 14 MPH range, and the Poa greens got pretty firm and bumpy late in the day. If that theme continues on the weekend, there could be some opportunities for chasers who are playing earlier in the day to get back in this tournament.

Let’s take a look at the strokes gained data from Round 2 to identify three buys and three fades for Round 3. 

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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 3 Buys

Mito Pereira : Of the three golfers currently double-digits under par, the Chilean, Mito Pereira, looks to be the most steady with his ball-striking. Through two rounds, he is second in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, as well second in Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking.

Mito has shown he has what it takes to win events, as he won three Korn Ferry Tour events in less than two years. With no established elite players currently lurking at the top of the leaderboard, the 26-year-old should have some confidence going into the weekend.

C.T. Pan: Pan sits at -5 in a tie for 24th through the first two rounds of the tournament. After sifting through his stats for the first two rounds, it feels as though Pan is playing the type golf that could get him in the mix come Sunday. He is gaining 3.5 strokes on approach which ranks seventh in the field.

The part of his game that has held Pan back so far this week is his around-the-green play. He is losing 1.9 strokes in the category, despite being a strong around-the-green player throughout his career (+0.3). It is likely that his short game will improve over the weekend which should create a path for him to make a move if the plus ball-striking continues.

Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama was one of my buys prior to Round 2, and he did nothing to make me second guess that on Friday. He is still putting rather poorly but is gaining 5.0 strokes from tee to green which is top 10 in the field thus far. A lack of big names on the leaderboard makes Deki the biggest looming threat for the group of unproven players.

Round 3 Fades

Maverick McNealy: I am going directly to the top of the leaderboard for the first fade of the weekend. McNealy has been playing some great golf, but he has absolutely had a lot of luck on his side throughout the first two rounds. He has been chipping in from all over the place and is gaining an unsustainable 5.1 strokes around the green on the field.

While his 64 (-8) on Friday was an extremely impressive round of golf, following up the (tied) low round of the day is always a tall task on the PGA TOUR. McNealy also gets the last tee time on Saturday, so if we see a repeat of Friday's conditions he may be dealing with a much different course than he was when he went low on Friday morning.

Beau Hossler: Maverick McNealy's low round of the day on Friday was matched by the Texas product Beau Hossler. Hossler sits in second place in large part due to his excellent putting, where he has led the field thus far gaining 6.3 strokes on the greens.

To put it simply, I don't believe this is a player than can contend this weekend. Beau was once a promising prospect, but he has been far too inconsistent for far too long to have any faith that he can string two more great rounds together. I expect Hossler to fade out of contention beginning with his late tee time on Saturday.

Phil Mickelson: Phil was one of my fades for Round 2, and admittedly it didn't pan out the way I expected. Lefty put together a solid round, shooting a 69 (-3), enabling him to stick around and play the weekend. However, despite the good score in round two I didn't see anything from Phil to change my mind on how he will play the rest of the week.

He was extremely average in terms of ball-striking and gained almost two strokes putting the second round alone. He also had some pretty wide misses both off the tee and on his long iron shots. It isn't a surprise that Phil was able to get himself out of trouble and let his short game bail him out, but it's not something I would count on to continue as we head into moving day.

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