Rocket Mortgage Classic Round 3 Betting Tips: Using Strokes Gained to Find an Edge

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Photo credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Kirk

We saw some sky-high scores at Detroit Golf Club yet again, with five players shooting 7-under or better, including three — Webb Simpson, Matthew Wolff and Ryan Armour — putting up -8 scores to jump into the top-three.

This is not a loaded field by any means, but the two favorites coming in — Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau — are exerting their gravity, sitting in first and third, respectively, entering the weekend. Simpson was as good as we saw him two weeks ago when he won, and DeChambeau is simply overpowering the field, getting to double digits despite poor iron play.

Will a big dog claim the weekend or will one of the many longshots in contention get it done? Let’s dive in.

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 3

I’m not exactly sure how you’ll buy Webb at this point: He’s the favorite of the tournament right now at +275 odds. He’s an astounding -186 to top-five.

Perhaps the answer is in DFS weekend cash games. When his irons are as dialed in as they were two weeks ago and apparently this week, he’s as good as anyone in the world. The ball-striking is just incredibly elite, and he dominated the field in strokes gained in that category on Friday.

Let’s dip down a bit for our other two buys, though, in Sam Burns and Viktor Hovland, both of whom have the tee-to-green game going on this week but just haven’t been able to get some lucky on the greens.


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In Burns’ case, he’s been incredibly unlucky: On Friday, he lost 2.21 strokes putting to the field. Still, he sits within the top-30, and while his 7-under score is probably too far out to really contend outside of a crazy day tomorrow, he definitely could do damage either in DFS or sneaking into the top-10.

It’s largely the same story with Hovland, who has played well this week but has lost strokes on the green. After two days, though, he’s third in the entire field in SG: Tee-to-Green behind only Webb and Hudson Swafford, who is at -9. Hovland is now plus money to get into the top-10 despite sitting at 20th right now. He’s definitely in play this weekend in that market plus DFS.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

Sorry, Chris Kirk, but you’re a fade for me this weekend despite holding a share of the lead entering it. 

He obviously played some fabulous golf Friday, shooting a 7-under round, but when you dive into his round vs. Webb’s, it’s pretty stark how different they were.

Webb got things done all around the course, whereas Kirk gained a stupid 3.17 strokes with his putter. He also gained 2.65 strokes around-the-green, which shows that he wasn’t really in great positions after two strokes but just had an incredible short game for a day. Any guy with a share of the lead but negative in ball-striking is going to be an auto-fade for me.

And it’s largely the same story for Sepp Straka and Lanto Griffin, who are both in contention on the weekend but have put up negative ball-striking numbers. Perhaps the putting stays, but I wouldn’t bet on it, especially with so many guys bunched up at the top who are dominating with their iron play.

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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