Northern Trust Round 4 Betting Tips Using Strokes Gained


Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Cameron Smith

Hopefully you bet Dustin Johnson Thursday night after Round 1, because since then he’s been about as hot as any golfer has ever been. He shot 7 under on Saturday, which now gives him a massive five-shot lead on the field. This one’s about over.

Tied for second place are Harris English and Scottie Scheffler, and then two strokes behind them is Louis Oosthuizen in solo fourth.

Just because the winner might be mostly set in stone doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make money Sunday, whether it’s through top-10 odds, head-to-head props or DFS showdown slates.

On that note, let’s dive into Saturday’s data and see what value we can find.

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 4

As I mentioned above, talking about whether DJ is going to win is a pretty futile exercise at this point. This is one of the world’s best golfers in a god-like groove with a five-shot lead entering the final 18. Let’s skip past him and his sky-high -560 odds to win at DraftKings (which is now live in Illinois!).

Scottie is one of the more boom-or-bust players on tour right now, although that’s somewhat to be expected given he’s only 24 years old. Coming back from the COVID-19 layoff, he finished 55th at the Charles Schwab and then missed three consecutive cuts.

Since then, though, he’s been inside the top-25 in three straight events, including an amazing fourth last week at the PGA Championship. That form apparently carried over to this week, as the youngster sits in second place both on the leaderboard and in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green behind DJ.

I often don’t like to bet or play in DFS golfers at the top on Sunday, mostly just because they tend to play more conservatively than those below them. But at five shots back, Scheffler definitely has incentive to just go out there and put up the best possible score. Given his form, I’m expecting a good one.

The three golfers I wrote about after Thursday to buy were DJ, Tyrrell Hatton and Xander Schauffele. The latter hasn’t really put things together yet, but I’m going back to the well with Hatton. The Englishman played very well Saturday, putting up an 8-under round. Most importantly, he lapped the field in Strokes Gained: Approach — a great sign heading into Sunday.

And finally, I’ll buy Cameron Smith just a little Sunday. He actually led the field Saturday in SG: Tee-to-Green, and on the total week he’s second in SG: Approach behind just DJ. The putter has let him down, but he’s usually lights-out with that stick. Given the iron play and likely regression, I’ll definitely take some shots on him in DFS and some betting markets.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4

We’re buying one Cameron and fading another. Davis started off the tournament well, hitting solid irons and getting hot with the short stick. Since then, though, he’s gone downhill, and on Saturday he shot a bad 1-over round. He lost 2.5 strokes with his approach, giving him a pretty negative SG: Tee-to-Green score on the day.

Perhaps he rebounds and puts up a nice Sunday round, but things were just so bad Saturday that I’m skeptical he can get back that form overnight.

English has been awesome lately, even before this tournament. He came into the week with one of the best recent form marks in the field, and he’s tied for second through three rounds this week.

Saturday’s round wasn’t amazing, though. Sure, he shot 5 under, which seems nice on the surface, but that was almost entirely because he scrambled as well as you’ll see anyone scramble. He didn’t put himself in great positions, and if that happens again with Sunday pressure, I don’t trust that he’ll be able to get up and down so many times.

Finally, ol’ Louis is my third favorite for Sunday. He held onto a top-five spot with a 3-under round Saturday, but the underlying metrics give reason to be bearish on him moving forward.

He actually lost 1.04 strokes with his approach in Round 3, one of the poorer marks in the field among golfers in contention for a top-five. On the week, he’s about field neutral in that regard; he’s really been relying on the short game to sustain his scores.

He’s a pretty good short-game player long-term, so that may not regress to an average player necessarily, but if the rest of his game holds and it comes down at all, he might put up another average round and fall outside the top five.

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

Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 3

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

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