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2021 Fortinet Championship Round 4 Buys & Fades: Can Knous or McNealy Hold On for Win?

2021 Fortinet Championship Round 4 Buys & Fades: Can Knous or McNealy Hold On for Win? article feature image

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR. Pictured: Max Homa.

In Round 3 of the Fortinet Championship, Jim Knous shot a 65 (-7) to earn him a share of the lead heading into Sunday’s final round. Maverick McNealy struggled early in his round but birdied his final three holes to tie Knous’ clubhouse lead.

The Fortinet Championship is wide open, as there are 18 players within four shots of the lead. The conditions have been getting increasingly difficult as the round progresses, with afternoon winds playing a factor. Anything can happen on Sunday, and this tournament seems to be headed for an electric finish.

Let’s take a look at the strokes gained data from Round 3 to identify three buys and three fades for Round 4. 

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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

Max Homa: Homa was my pre-tournament “best bet” to win the event at +6000, and he has a real shot to do so on Sunday. The Californian rode a 65 (-7) to get in at -12, just two back of the co-leaders.

Homa has been very good across the board statistically this week gaining 7.3 strokes from tee to green which is tied for second in the field. This is a golfer who has proven on multiple occasions that if he gets in the mix on Sunday he simply cannot be overlooked.

Mito Pereira : Mito Pereira was my first buy after Round 2 and got off to a fast start on Saturday. The Chilean gained the solo lead at -14 after a birdie at the 10th hole. Unfortunately, some poor tee shots led him to make three bogeys in his next six holes, before making birdie at the last to get in the house at -12, two back of Knous and McNealy.

Despite the few hiccups, I still think Pereira has what it takes to win this golf tournament. He is leading the field in Strokes Gained: Approach (+5.9) and Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (+8.6) and is second in Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking. There are six golfers -12 or better for the tournament, and Pereira ranks last among them in Strokes Gained: Putting (+0.2). If he can just gain a stroke or more putting tomorrow and continue the dominant tee-to-green performance, he should be able to lift the trophy.

Webb Simpson: Simpson is the looming big-name player towards the back of the pack in contention right now. After two up-and-down days, Simpson really turned it on Saturday by making five birdies on his back nine to get his score to -10 for the week. Webb will go out in the fifth-to-last group on Sunday and have a chance to post a low score and give many unproven players something to think about when the pressure starts ramping up.

Round 2 Fades

Jim Knous: As great as the story would be, I don’t think Knous is winning this golf tournament. He played great on Saturday, shooting 65 (-7), and did so with a very hot putter. It is very likely that we see regression in that area on Sunday.

Knous has made his way to the final pairing on Sunday with a pretty ridiculous stat line. He is gaining 5.3 strokes putting and 5.2 strokes around the green, and he is losing strokes on approach (-0.9). This style of play is simply unsustainable, especially down the stretch on Sunday when trying to get your first PGA TOUR victory.

Beau Hossler: I faded Beau Hossler after Round 2, and he managed to hang around with a pretty mediocre round on Saturday. Hossler hit only two of 18 fairways and got out of a lot of jams with his putter. He leads the field, gaining 8.1 strokes putting, and has been getting bailed out all week by making very tough putts. Beau is an exceptional putter, so that may just continue, but I don’t believe he is striking the ball well enough to win the tournament.

Talor Gooch: Of the players -11 or better, Gooch ranks third to last in Strokes Gained: Approach, trailing only Knous and Hossler. This is out of character for Gooch, who is usually one of the better iron players on TOUR. He has gained most of his strokes around the green (+5.1) which is a statistic that is typically a good bet for regression once the number starts creeping that high. When Talor Gooch captures a PGA TOUR victory, it will be in the midst of a superb ball-striking week, and that isn’t what’s happening for Gooch in Napa.

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