Memorial Tournament Round 3 Betting Tips: Using Strokes Gained to Find an Edge
Photo credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images. Pictured: Jon Rahm
Well, after a lovely, easy week at Memorial just a couple days ago at the Workday Charity Open, the Memorial has brought us utter carnage.
Take your pick of the golfers who struggled, and I mean struggled. There are bad holes every round — you’ll see some triples, maybe a quad here or there. But there were multiple QUINTS; Bryson DeChambeau was one of them, melting down golf Twitter for a couple minutes.
Entering the weekend, Ryan Palmer and Tony Finau co-share the lead at 9-under, and Jon Rahm is the looming giant right behind them at 8-under. Let’s take a reset and figure out how to approach Saturday and Sunday.
But first, a quick explanation on Strokes Gained data and what it means for golf handicapping.
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 has, 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 handle them 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 more stable long-term, and often you can find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well but just not getting putts to drop, which is more random. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.
3 Golfers to Buy in Round 3
Rahm was my outright pick to win before the tournament, so I’m not going to back off now, especially given how solid he’s looked the past two days. His irons have been on point; he’s consistently given himself good looks with the putter, which is easier said than done on this course this week.
He’s actually been fairly neutral on the greens, but this guy is just so incredibly talented when he’s dialed in, as he seems to be right now. His “A” game is right there with Rory and JT in entire world, so if you’re looking for a guy who could put things away this weekend, Rahm is the guy.
Gary Woodland isn’t thought of in the upper tier of guys, and he’s been troubled with his short game throughout his career. But his talent striking the ball is also up there among the game’s best, and he was outstanding Friday, gaining nearly five strokes on the field with his approach.
Overall, he leads the entire field after two days in Strokes Gained: Approach, and if he can remain steady on the greens and perhaps see some positive regression off the tee, he should be right there with Rahm to win this thing. (For what it’s worth, Tiger Woods is second on the week in SG: Approach but really struggled otherwise on Friday.)
And finally, I’m almost never on Jordan Spieth, but the numbers are intriguing this week. Spieth’s game is pretty easy to understand: He’s not that long, he can get hot ball-striking and he does the majority of his damage with his putter, which when on is among the game’s best.
His problem over the last couple of years is that the putting has regressed a little, but he’s just been so poor with his irons that it hasn’t even really mattered. This week, though, he’s gained over strokes on the field with his approach game, which is a positive step.
He’s currently sitting five back from Palmer and Finau, which isn’t insurmountable given the implosions we’ve seen so far, and if he’s able to keep attacking greens and this turns into a putting match, it’s hard to fade Spieth.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
Jason Day is a tough guy to handicap: The world’s former No. 1 has had such a stark fall from grace, largely due to injury issues that keep popping up.
He’s similar to Spieth in that he can gain a ton of strokes with his putter when he’s right with his irons. And he has a little more distance than Spieth, which is why he was the world No. 1 before. He has the total package when healthy.
But I’m skeptical to buy it right now, mostly because he’s doing it solely because of the putter, despite not really gaining strokes with his approach. In fact, he’s been essentially neutral across two days everywhere else but sits first in Strokes Gained: Putting. Could he keep it up? Sure. Am I willing to bet on that? I am not.
In second and third place on the week in SG: Putting are Mackenzie Hughes and Viktor Hovland, who are my other fades for tomorrow. Again, those guys can be fine putters, but it’s the rest of their games so far that has me worried.
Hughes has actually been quite poor with his second and third shots this week, losing over a full stroke on his approach. He’s had to really turn things on at the green to sit at 4-under, and if the rest of his game doesn’t improve, I’m not expecting him to remain in the top-10.
Hovland is more interesting because, man, is this youngster talented (I feel very old typing that sentence). He’s been perhaps the most consistently impressive golfer since the COVID-19 return but just hasn’t gotten the mainstream buzz because other guys like Collin Morikawa have hoisted trophies, whereas he’s just banked multiple top-fives.
This week, he’s been pretty neutral ball-striking but has hung around because of his putting. I do wonder whether the grind of the last month will eventually catch up to him. I could be very wrong: He shot 6-under today to get into the top-10 and looks like he can contend again. Based on his two-day data, though, I’d lean towards guys who are hitting their irons better.
Alright, enough talk. Here’s the data for all players for Thursday.
Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 2
(Note: The graph below is interactive. Click/hover to see data.)