Rocket Mortgage Classic Round 2 Betting Tips: Using Strokes Gained to Find an Edge

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Photo credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Emiliano Grillo

It looks like we have another tournament in which better than 20-under is going to have to get it done.

Three golfers in the opening round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic went 7-under on the day: Doc Redman, Kevin Kisner and Scott Stallings. And a whopping seven golfers are just a shot back, including the looming giant of the field, Bryson DeChambeau, who entered the tournament around 6-1 to win.

It’s anyone’s tournament right now, although there are definitely some guys to buy and fade tomorrow and throughout the upcoming holiday weekend. Let’s get into those for betting and DFS.

But first, a quick explanation on Strokes Gained data and what it means for golf handicapping.

(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 has, 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 handle them 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 more stable long-term, and often you can find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well but just not getting putts to drop, which is more random. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

Read more about Strokes Gained here.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 2

The golfers who played the best in Round 1 — at least in a repeatable, predictable way — were Stallings and Emiliano Grillo. The former holds a share of the lead while the latter sits a stroke back.

And that’s interesting given that they’re not really being priced as legit contenders after one day. Stallings definitely saw a price boost and sits at 18-1 on DraftKings, but he’s still behind six other golfers. Grillo, though, is way back in odds at 40-1 despite having the best ball-striking day in the field.


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My colleagues Peter Jennings and Josh Perry were on Stallings before the tournament, and the 35-year-old has stayed hot. He may not win the tournament, but there’s little reason to believe at this point that he’ll drastically fall off.

Grillo is the more interesting guy to me given his price, however. The ball-striking was excellent, and he’s just a shot back despite losing strokes with his putter, which isn’t a strength of his. I wouldn’t bet at this point that he’d gain strokes over the next three days in that regard, but if he can keep it neutral, he’ll stay in contention if his irons are really this dialed in.

His odds of 40-1 to win aren’t terrible, but I’d rather take him to bank a top-10 at 11-1 odds (DraftKings), which I think is more doable for the 27-year-old Argentine.

And finally, let’s briefly touch on Harold Varner III. He was a darling of sharp bettors and DFS players coming in to this weekend. He can gain a ton of strokes off the tee, which is more important this week with the longer course in Detroit, and he’s shown the last couple weeks that he can be a dangerous iron player as well.

He might be too far back to contend after Round 1 at just -2, but I would expect him to move up. The tee-to-green game was there in a big way, but he finished with a -3.06 SG: Putting score, third-worst in the field. He’s usually average with that club, so I would expect him to be better moving forward.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2

Honestly, I don’t have very strong convictions on fades at this point — at least on golfers worth talking about. There are plenty of guys worth fading, but they also shot horribly today and aren’t really in contention for anything.

Some of the guys who gained a ton of strokes putting and could regress are guys that I think will probably rebound in other areas. Doc Redman and Bryson, for example, are right near the top of the leaderboard, and while they got lucky on the greens, they also were abnormally average elsewhere.

Sure, the data might say to fade a hot putter, but think about it inversely: What happens when the irons turn around for Bryson? Watch out.

But I’ll still give you three guys in contention who I think you should be cautious of: Richy Werenski, Brendon Todd and Troy Merritt.

Perhaps few were on those guys anyway — with the exception of Todd, who has become a Golf Twitter darling after his play last week — but every player matters in single-day DFS slates, and I’d probably avoid them there.

All three guys lost strokes with their approach game, and Werenski and Todd especially were hot with the putter. If the iron play continues and they regress to normal on the greens, they’ll fall back in this field.

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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