Northern Trust Round 2 Betting Tips Using Strokes Gained: Is Tyrell Hatton Back in Form?

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Photo credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyrrell Hatton

Despite a star-studded field, the top of the leaderboard after Round 1 of the Northern Trust is littered with longshots.

Harris English, Kevin Streelman, Cameron Davis and Russell Henley are all tied for first at 7-under, and below them are seven players a shot behind, including Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson.

Adam Scott and Tommy Fleetwood are in the group two back, followed by Dustin Johnson, Tyrrell Hatton and some other notable names.

What should we expect for the rest of the tournament? Let’s dive into Thursday’s data and take a look.

But first, a quick note on Strokes Gained, which I’ll mention frequently in this article.

(Click here to skip to the analysis section.)

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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 2

Let’s start with the guys up top: Of that foursome, none of which made my list above notably, I would prefer English. He was second in the field on Thursday to just Streelman in Strokes Gained: Approach, but I trust him a little more given his recent play, which has been tremendous. He’s been in the top-25 in five straight events, and last week he similarly came out hot with a 64. The game is definitely there right now.

But let’s talk about some guys a bit down the leaderboard who are worth some buys in either betting or DFS. DJ and Hatton are both three strokes back and had similar games on Thursday: The ball-striking was great, but the putting just wasn’t on par with the field. Still, they’re in contention.

DJ is such a hard player to handicap; he’s so boom-or-bust. He won the Travelers last month, but then subsequently shot three straight rounds of 80, 80 and 78 at the Memorial and 3M Open, missing the cut and withdrawing. Since then, though, he’s finished 12th and then second at the PGA Championship.

Who knows what’s going on with him, but those two other events are looking like the outliers at this point. He’s been a little erratic off the tee, which was just as much his downfall as the putter was today, but the iron play has been as good as anyone in the world over the last few weeks. If that continues, expect to see the big guy in contention.

Hatton is an interesting guy too: He was really trending in the right direction for a while there.

  • Mexico Championship in February: 6th
  • Arnold Palmer Invitational in March: 1st
  • The Heritage in June: 3rd
  • Rocket Mortgage Classic in July: 4th
  • St. Jude Invitational in August: 69th
  • PGA Championship in August: MC

That’s quite the drop-off. But if you look closer, the approach play has remained consistent through all of those tournaments. The real difference is that his short game the last two events has been atrocious. It wasn’t amazing today, but it was passable — and that’s all he needs given the rest of his game right now to get into contention.

Xander Schauffele hasn’t gotten the attention a lot of the other top-end golfers have lately, but he’s been right there consistently. In his seven tournaments since the COVID return, he’s been outside the top-20 just once. He finished in the top-10 last week at the PGA, and he comes into this week with the fourth-best Recent Adjusted Round Score in the field.

He’s playing some really good golf lately, and if the short game can come around for him, we could see him get his fifth PGA Tour win.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2

Of the top of the field, Davis definitely had the most outlier putting performance. He gained 3.48 strokes with the short stick, and as a field neutral putter long-term, I’m not going to buy that quite yet.

In general, that’s how I approach in-tournament betting. Putting can definitely be the most random part of golf, and these metrics are also correlated. If a golfer is consistently landing balls far from the hole, they by definition have to gain strokes with the putter in order to stay in contention.

The problem, of course, is what happens when you don’t drain putts over 10 feet consistently? At that point you have to fix the approach play, and that’s a much harder thing to do at any point — and especially during a tournament.

The other two fades fit right in that mold in Charles Howell III and Tommy Fleetwood. The latter is a golfer I really like generally, but something is just off with his game right now. He’s usually excellent in Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking, gaining a ton with his irons and driver. But lately and today, that part of his game has been pretty terrible.

Howell is a ball-striker by nature, which makes his play today surprising. That’s the question with him moving forward: Will that regress back to his norm? If not, I don’t trust the rest of his game to hold; he’ll fall back pretty quickly.

Alright, enough talk. Here’s the data for all players for Thursday.

Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 1

(Note: The graph below is interactive. Click/hover to see data.)

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