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Houston Open Round 3 Buys & Fades: Finding Value Using Strokes Gained Data

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Patton Kizzire is 110/1 to win the RSM Classic. Credit: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

Sam Burns played his Friday round at the Vivint Houston Open exactly the way we hoped when we bought into him going into the second round.

Burns carded the round of the day, firing a bogey-free 65 to jump into the lead by two shots over Carlos Ortiz and Jason Day. Aaron Wise, another pick who clicked for us, shot a 66 to move into a tie for fourth at 4 under par. Wise is even with four other players, including first round leader Brandt Snedeker.

The morning tee times saw better scoring conditions and seemed to be aided by easier pin placements in Round 2, but by the afternoon Memorial Park firmed up and continued to play tough.

Now, we head into the weekend with just 25 golfers under par and an estimated 3-over cutline.

  • Note: There are still a few players that will play Saturday morning to finish their respective second rounds, notably Charl Schwartzel, who needs a par on his final hole to continue playing the weekend.

Despite Burns’ two-shot advantage, there are still a large number of players within just a handful of the lead, including world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Moving Day should provide plenty of fireworks at the Houston Open, with plenty of value on the board.

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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 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 3

There is something about Bermuda grass that bring out the best in Patton Kizzire, and we are seeing that side of him in Houston. Kizzire was second to Burns in the field tee-to-green Friday, shooting a solid, 3-under 67 to climb into that logjam in fourth place.

Many times, it’s the putter that carries Kizzire to good results, which makes Friday’s result even more exciting. He actually lost strokes to the field on the greens during the round, but gained 2.18 strokes with his irons after gaining 1.47 strokes on approach Thursday.

I’m expecting his putting to improve throughout the weekend and if he maintains the good tee-to-green play he’s had, he will be in contention throughout the rest of the event.

The +3300 on DraftKings is enticing for a proven TOUR winner just three shots back of the lead, who is playing great golf through two rounds.

Adam Scott was a player who decided to wait to make his return to the TOUR following the COVID-19 hiatus. Scott has played just four events since that time, then tested positive himself prior to the ZOZO Championship, making this week’s event his first tournament since the U.S. Open.

Adam Scott plays a shot from the 18th tee during the Vivint Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course. Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

Scott said Tuesday he was working with a new driver and ball, but felt like his swing was in a good place despite the break. After 36 holes, that’s proven to be the case, as he has gained more than three strokes ball striking in each round. Scott’s irons were on fire Friday, gaining 2.47 strokes on approach, but he left  strokes on the greens and lost 1.25 to the field with his putter.

Scott shot 1 under Friday to move within four shots of the lead, but it certainly could have been much better.

I was hesitant on the Australian coming into the week due to his time away, but the consistency he has shown through the first two days has me buying for the weekend. I’m in on Adam Scott in all markets going into moving day, and the +1600 at BetMGM is enticing enough to grab a few shares, too.

We’ve seen several older players get their first wins on TOUR in multiple years this fall, so it would fit the trend to see a player like Padraig Harrington climb into contention this weekend. He has certainly shown the game through two rounds to hang around and even make a Saturday move.

Harrington has averaged 3.17 strokes gained tee-to-green through 36 holes, and has been consistent each day with his ball striking. He followed up a solid round Thursday by gaining nearly two strokes ball striking Friday, as he shot a 68 to move into a tie for 21st place.

I’m leaning on that ball striking to continue on Moving Day, and will look to buy him in matchups and DFS for Round 3.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

It was pretty surprising to see the best round of the day come from Brandt Snedeker on Thursday, as he has had eight missed cuts and just one Top 20 since February.

Snedekar managed to scratch out a 1-over 71 on Friday to stay in a tie for fourth place, but it’s difficult to see him go anywhere but down.

Snedeker lost 2.52 strokes ball striking in Round 2, playing equally poor both off-the-tee and on approach. He lost more than a stroke to the field in each category, and really had to lean heavily on his short game. The ball-striking issues are a major concern, which makes for a pretty easy fade.

I followed Talor Gooch’s Friday round really closely. As I tracked him hole by hole, it was evident he would end up in my fades. Frankly, it’s amazing he has shot under par in each of his first two rounds, hit 38% of his fairways and 50% of the greens in regulation.

Gooch was carried by a white hot putter in Round 2, as he kept rolling in lengthy par putts to maintain his spot on the leaderboard. He only hit eight of 18 greens Friday, losing .89 strokes to the field on approach, but was bailed out by gaining nearly three strokes with his short game.

Gooch hasn’t shown enough tee-to-green to hold his spot in the Top 10, as the grind gets tougher over the weekend.

Francesco Molinari plays his shot during the Vivint Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course. Credit: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

We’ve hardly seen Francesco Molinari at all since that day in April of 2019, when he lost the Masters to some guy named Tiger Woods. He made his first return to golf since February last month at the Shriners and really headed into Houston without many expectations.

In that sense, it’s remarkable to see Molinari in a tie for 14th and just five shots off the lead through 36 holes, but unfortunately it’s difficult to believe he can sustain it.

The 2018 Open champion has lost strokes ball striking to the field in each of his first two rounds, losing shots in both categories each day. On Friday, he lost 1.36 strokes ball striking, but was the best putter on his way to a 2-under 68.

That script is the exact opposite of what we have come to know Molinari for when he’s at his best, and his inability to find either his off-the-tee or his iron game is the reason for my fade.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 2

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