2021 John Deere Classic Round 4 Buys & Fades: Can Brandon Hagy Capture His First Win?

2021 John Deere Classic Round 4 Buys & Fades: Can Brandon Hagy Capture His First Win? article feature image
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Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Hagy.

Golfers played through the rain today at the John Deere Classic, which allowed them to get all of the third round in before Sunday. While the weather was questionable, the play continued to be strong as the field played TPC Deere Run at 1.53 under par on average, with the top round of an 8-under 63.

Sebastian Munoz took back his lead from the first 18 holes by posting a 4-under 67, where he got some breaks, including a miraculous par at the Par 5 10th, which looked like disaster for the Columbian. He will tee off from the final group on Sunday, with a one-shot advantage over Brandon Hagy who also posted a 67 on Saturday. They are chased by a group of five players, two shots back at 14-under, which was led by the 8-under round by Scott Brown, and also includes Kevin Na.

There are 14 players within four shots of the lead going into the final round at TPC Deere Run, making it anyone’s tournament on Sunday. Let’s see who stands out as a potential champion come tomorrow evening.

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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.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 4

I faded Brandon Hagy in this column yesterday, and my theory was right as he had the regression we expected with his putting. Hagy lost 1.01 strokes to the field on the greens, causing him to fall from the top spot on the week, dropping him down to fifth. He was still able to put together a solid round and will find himself in the final pairing on Sunday, just one shot back of Munoz’s lead.

Hagy was my longshot pick to win this event at the start of the week, and I’ll go back to him here. He gained 2.83 strokes on the field with his ball-striking on Saturday, and if he gets his putter back, he will be in position for his first TOUR win on Sunday evening. He’s priced appropriately into the final round at +550 to win on DraftKings, which is decent value from just a stroke short of the leader.

If it’s not Hagy, I would look for someone a little further down the leaderboard, and it’s Maverick McNealy that stands out. He opened his week with an even-par round on Thursday and has gone back to back with low rounds to get to 13-under on the week. He will start Sunday’s round just three shots short of the leader and likely in need of another low one to get his first TOUR win.

The thing that has me excited about McNealy’s potential for victory is that he has gained strokes across all metrics of his game over the past 36 holes. His tee-to-green play has him gaining 5.47 strokes on the field over those two rounds and putting him in contention despite his lackluster opening round. McNealy is one of the best putters in this field, and if he continues to play this well with his ball-striking on Sunday, he will be there with a chance to pull it off down the last few holes of the final round.

My final buy on Sunday is with a longshot that has been showing some positive signs in his game over the past several weeks. Rafa Cabrera Bello used to be a player that I would lookout for to go low in any given round, but he has struggled to put things together over the past year or more. RCB is now showing signs of the player he used to be, and he has been trending in his game even over the three rounds of this tournament.

The Spaniard put together a 6-under round of 65 on Saturday to position himself five shots back of the leader going into the final round. He did it by ranking third in the field in approach play, gaining 3.17 strokes on the field with his irons. He’s a player that could go out and post a 62 type of score, requiring the leaders to come chase him down on Sunday evening. He could be worth a sprinkle at +15000 to pull off the improbable on FanDuel, with a little heavier look at +450 for a top-10 finish.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4

I am going back to the well on my early and poor call to fade Sebastian Munoz following the first round. He has continued to post strong rounds since that time, but the pressure of being the leader on Sunday has me going back to the fade.

Munoz got incredibly lucky on Saturday when he hit his tee shot into the deep rough on the 10th hole, then played it out to a point of being stymied by the base of a tree. He was able to get a really fortunate free drop, which allowed him to really stay in the event.

Maybe it’s the kind of break that we look back on and realize it’s part of what won him the tournament, but it was a bit of a sign of the pressure of the moment for me. I’m doubling down on my fade of the Colombian going into Sunday, less for anything the stats will show this week, and more on the pressure of the final group in the final round. He ranks 171st on TOUR in final-round scoring average, and the added pressure will only amplify that for Munoz on Sunday at TPC Deere Run.

Cameron Champ is going to be another fade for me on Sunday, and another double-down. He has been putting the ball out of his mind this week at the John Deere Classic, which continues to hide his approach play issues.

Champ has gained 5.56 strokes on the field with his flat stick, which is certainly an anomaly for the 206th-ranked putter on TOUR this season. He also ranks 163rd on TOUR with his irons, and that has still been an issue this week as he has lost 1.31 shots to the field. I am sticking to my guns that he can’t continue to have these approach play issues and still win this event. If he goes out and putts lights out once again, I will be able to live with this fade as everything lines up for it on Sunday.

The numbers aren’t too dissimilar for Adam Schenk this week. He has lost strokes to the field on approach every single round but still finds himself just four shots short of the lead.

Schenk’s play seemed to hit a wall on Saturday as he lost strokes in all metrics tee to green in the third round. He ended up losing 1.45 shots to the field tee to green, but he was able to salvage a 1-under round by gaining nearly a full shot on the field with his putting. The trends show that Schenk is going in the wrong direction heading to the final round, and I’ll buy that trend in my fade for him on Sunday.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 3

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