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PGA Championship Round 3 Betting Tips Using Strokes Gained

PGA Championship Round 3 Betting Tips Using Strokes Gained article feature image

Photo credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Haotong Li

Editor’s note: If you’re looking for Sunday’s betting breakdown, check out this link. The article below previewed Saturday’s third round.

Just as we all imagined, 25-year-old Chinese golfer Haotong Li leads the PGA Championship by two strokes after two days. He played incredibly well today, shooting a 5-under to place himself in a great spot entering the weekend.

But looming large right behind him are huge names like Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Daniel Berger, all of whom are in a tie for second along with Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

We’re in for quite a weekend. Let’s dive into Friday’s data and see if we can find any value in the betting and DFS markets.

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

(Click here to skip to the analysis section.)

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 volatile.

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

Two of the three golfers I was buying entering Friday’s round find themselves right back on the list after it: Day and Koepka.

Neither had the round of their lives by any means, shooting 1- and 2-under, respectively, but their overall data continues to be quite impressive. In fact, on the week they’re Nos. 1 and 2 in Strokes Gained: Approach; they’re right there in total overall strokes gained tee-to-green as well.

They just haven’t found consistent luck on the greens yet. I’m still interested in buying them, partly because they’re awesome putters and should regress, and also because of their veteran talent. I discussed yesterday to not overreact too much to a small sample size in golf, and we’ve got ourselves a win-win here. We get to buy regression from guys who have the long-term skills.

Brooks is currently the favorite at 4-1 odds ($10 bet would profit $40), followed by Berger, Day and Fleetwood, all of whom are tied for 9-1. I think the best value there is Day, but Brooks is obviously enticing as the two-time defending champ, especially given his approach play this week.

One good thing if you don’t want to pay that price on Brooks: DraftKings is offering a 30% profit boost on all golf bets tomorrow, which means you can really get some nice +EV wagers in.

How that works: Say you bet Brooks at 4/1; if that bet wins, you’d get 30% more, essentially turning that +400 bet into a +520 one. Not bad.

[Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Paul Casey is a stroke back of those two guys at 5-under, but the data from the first two rounds is also encouraging. He’s actually ahead of Brooks in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, but like the guys mentioned above has been fairly mediocre on the greens.

Casey is one of the better players to never win a major, and he’s definitely not getting respect in the betting market as a result: He’s 25/1 to win. Given the way he’s playing, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in contention. I’ll look to buy him in the top-10 market when that posts, as he looks undervalued heading into the weekend.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

Li is quite the story entering the weekend, but those are some big names right behind him in second place. For that reason, despite owning a two-shot lead, he’s still only seventh on the board at 14-1 to win.

I largely agree with that. Li hasn’t played poorly by any means; in fact, he’s essentially tied with Berger in SG: Tee-to-Green. He’s been better than Rose in SG: Approach.

So why fade him? Mostly because I think he’s playing over his head right now; again, it’s important to still hold pre-tournament priors to an extent. Long-term he’s just nowhere near the caliber of golfer of those around him on the board.

He’s not a terrible course fit: He’s long off the tee; he can putt pretty well. But he’s also usually not that accurate, which is where he’s done most of his damage. I’m willing to bet today was something of an anomaly and fade him moving forward.

Two other golfers I’m fading are Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Brendon Todd, both of whom are at the top of the leaderboard simply because of putting. Neither have really competed with anyone around them in SG: Approach, which highlights their extreme downside for the weekend.

If the putting falls off even a little bit, they’ll slide down the leaderboard if the rest of their games stay the same, which is probably a fair bet.

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


Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 2

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

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