RBC Heritage Round 4 Betting Tips: Using Strokes Gained to Find an Edge

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Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyrrell Hatton

The biggest lesson from the first three days of the RBC Heritage: Harbour Town is playing incredibly easy.

There’s been little wind — which can often be a dynamic at beach courses — and the rain overnight has really softened this course.

Case in point: A ridiculous six players Saturday shot 8-under, including Tyrrell Hatton, Carlos Ortiz, Daniel Berger, Joel Dahmen, Joaquin Niemann and Chris Stroud.

That has caused the leaderboard to be incredibly tight entering Sunday’s final round: Hatton, Abraham Ancer, Ryan Palmer and Webb Simpson are in a four-way tie for first at 15-under, and there are three players at -14. All in all, there are 15 total players in the lead or within two strokes.

Let’s dive into Saturday’s data and figure out who to buy and fade moving forward ahead of Sunday’s final round.


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Golfers to Buy, Fade in Sunday’s Final Round

I’m thankful I’m holding two tickets on guys in first place — Webb at 28-1 and Palmer at 25-1 — but I’ll admit that I don’t feel great about it. This course is playing way too easy, and it feels like there’s going to be some random guy who goes 8- or 9-under and steals it. Carlos Ortiz, anyone?

Given the course, this one is a really hard one to handicap. Still, let’s go through the data and see what we can find.

Four of the top-five guys in Strokes Gained: Putting on Saturday had 8-under rounds (Stroud, Hatton, Berger and Ortiz). Of those four, Stroud and Hatton didn’t really do that well from tee-to-green and rather just dominated with the short stick. Berger and Ortiz were the more well-rounded low players.

Hatton leads the entire field this week in SG: Putting, and while that’s always a metric that could show more randomness than others, Hatton has clearly been great on these greens and they’re definitely scorable given the conditions. I hate to be too reductionist, but that’s what this tournament is going to come down to: Who among the 15 guys within two shots can get the hottest with the putter?

Maybe Hatton is a fade and due to regress; maybe he should be the pick since he’s shown the most success there. I honestly don’t have a strong opinion on that debate either way, and his odds aren’t good enough for me to bet.

Niemann, Ancer, Dahmen and Sergio Garcia led the way in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green Saturday and played very well. I honestly wish I had taken a to-win ticket on Sergio after Round 1: He was my biggest buy, but I didn’t think he was close enough to get back into contention. Alas, he’s just two back and leads the field this entire week in tee-to-green play.

Rounding out the top-five in SG: Tee-to-Green on the entire week are Ancer, Palmer, Niemann and Tony Finau, the latter who sits four back entering Sunday.

Note that my following advice is from someone who already has a sweat on two tickets in Webb and Palmer, but I do think it’s the best advice currently despite that fact. In a nutshell: This course is so scorable that I think taking longer odds and hoping for more randomness is probably the way to go.

Webb and Hatton could certainly win: They’re probably the most talented guys at the very top of the leaderboard. But they could shoot a 66 — an excellent round — and not even finish in the top-five. Palmer remains interesting although he’s at 10-1 now, and I’d probably look even below that to bigger numbers in the 20-1 range: Maybe Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sergio, Ortiz, or Corey Conners.

To sum it up: When things are more random than usual and when in doubt, gobble up longshot value. I likely won’t hedge much at this point, but if you want a little action for Sunday, take some guys two shots back and hope for an 8-under round and for the other guys to go “just” 5-under. That’s how Hatton caught up to Webb and Palmer today; it could happen again.

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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