RBC Heritage Round 2 Betting Tips: Using Strokes Gained to Find an Edge

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Photo credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Sergio Garcia

After a star-studded return to the PGA TOUR last week where almost all of the big-name golfers played well, the beginning of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town is littered with longshots at the top of the leaderboard.

Ian Poulter and Mark Hubbard are tied at -7, and below them are names the casual fans may not know, including Sebastian Munoz, Michael Thompson, Dylan Frittelli, Brice Garnett and Matthew NeSmith.

There are big names lurking, though: Webb Simpson is just a shot back, and two behind are Jordan Spieth and Tony Finau. At -4 are Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau.

Let’s dive into Thursday’s data and figure out who to buy and fade moving forward ahead of Friday’s cut.


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Golfers to Buy, Fade in Round 2

Perhaps the two easiest fades in the field moving forward are Mark Hubbard, who again owns a co-share of the lead currently, and Mackenzie Hughes, who sits two back at -5.

Both of those players gained over 4.00 Strokes Gained: Putting, which is absurd and completely unsustainable moving forward. It’s a great example why first-round leader bets are so much more random than outrights. Anyone can get hot putting for a day; few do so over four straight rounds.

Hubbard played fine elsewhere, although nowhere near his incredible score. Hughes, meanwhile, was almost perfectly neutral in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and only shot 5-under because of his putting. I’d be shocked if he stayed within the top-10 over the next three days.

Here are the top-five golfers Thursday in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, all of whom gained over four strokes. You’ll note that not one is in the lead:

  • Ryan Palmer (-6): +5.73 SG: Tee-to-Green
  • Dylan Frittelli (-6): +5.68 SG: Tee-to-Green
  • Sebastian Munoz (-6): +4.93 SG: Tee-to-Green
  • Webb Simpson (-6): +4.75 SG: Tee-to-Green
  • Sergio Garcia (-1): +4.06 SG: Tee-to-Green

I won’t beat around the bush here: Webb Simpson was my pick to win this tournament before it started, and I think he should be the outright favorite after Day 1. He’s a perfect fit for Harbour Town, and he shot 6-under without really getting it going with his putter, which is usually a strength for him.

Alas, however, he is the favorite at DraftKings at +700. It’s a tough spot: He’s probably not a value at that number, but he could also go out tomorrow morning and command a big lead; you might not see 7/1 again. I think he’s the best pick to win is what I’ll say; do with that what you will.

Sergio Garcia is a guy I’ll be interesting in buying tomorrow if I can find him in the head-to-head matchup market. He shot just 1-under and had some of the craziest splits you’ll see. He was +4.06 SG: Tee-to-Green but a miserable — worst in entire field, in fact — -3.91 Strokes Gained: Putting. If his tee-to-green game holds and he gets luckier with the putter, he’ll shoot up the leaderboard.

Other players who were especially poor putting Thursday include Charles Howell III, Byeong Hun An, Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Rose. All of those guys are much better putters than their numbers indicate, and while they’ll have their work cut out for them after over-par rounds, they’re worth buying as dogs in head-to-head matchups.

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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