RSM Classic Round 2 Buys & Fades: Finding Value Using Strokes Gained Data
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Cameron Tringale.
It was a windy start to The RSM Classic on Thursday in Sea Island, Ga., as players found difficult conditions around both courses during Round 1. Oddly, the typically easier Plantation Course played more difficult than the featured Seaside Course. In fact, the field on the Plantation Course played over par on the whole.
We go into Friday with a bunched up leaderboard, with Matt Wallace and Camilo Villegas leading the way after they both shot 6-under 64 on the Seaside Course on Thursday. Eight others are tied in third at 5 under, including Cameron Tringale, Keegan Bradley and Doug Ghim, who tied for the best round on the Plantation Course.
In total, 63 players shot under par on their first round across the two courses, trending towards another under-par cutline after tomorrow’s round.
This write-up is predicated on the strokes gained data we receive from each round, but with two courses this week, there is only shotlink and strokes gained data for players playing on the Seaside Course. The charts will only feature half of the field today as that is the only data available, but I will also look to mention some potential value from the other course.
As I typically like to do after Round 1, I will focus mostly on the chasers, as they generally provide the best value, and with winds expected to be up again tomorrow we could see a lot of movement in the leaderboard. I’m not going to target either course specifically, but will just focus on the players that stand out going into the second round.
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 prone to volatility.
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.
3 Golfers to Buy in Round 2
I did things a little differently to start digging for some buys today, as I wanted to give a fair shake to both courses, since I know there will be value that isn’t shown with the lack of strokes gained data on the other course.
I went first to the odds, and Bernd Wiesberger jumped out at me. He played the Seaside, so we can use that to our advantage, as well.
Wiesberger shot a 4-under 66 Thursday and is just two shots back of the lead, but still +4000 currently on DraftKings. This is simply a shocking number to me, as this is a player that won three (3!) times on the European Tour in 2019 alone. The field for The RSM Classic is certainly better than a typical European Tour event, but it’s still fairly weak overall and Wiesberger clearly knows how to win.
I love that Bernd’s numbers back it up, as well. He gained strokes in all four metrics, ranking second in the field tee-to-green and gained 2.59 strokes ball-striking on Thursday. Everything checks out for the buy on Wiesberger in all markets going into Round 2.
As I looked through the strokes gained data from Thursday on the Seaside Course, C.T. Pan was the first one to jump out at me. He led the field in strokes gained tee-to-green and was solid in every metric today until he got on the greens.
Pan lost 1.50 strokes putting on Thursday, leaving a number of shots out there, but still managed to come in at a 3-under 67. He will go into Friday just three shots back, and the ball-striking he showed today gives me confidence in his ability to continue to hold his position in the wind.
The player coming into the week with the lowest odds to win was Webb Simpson, and he didn’t do anything to change that status on Thursday. Despite shooting “just” 2 under and finding himself in a tie for 31st, he’s still listed at +1000 to win, the lowest odds of the field.
I had a feeling as I was watching on Thursday afternoon that Webb would make his way into my “buy” section as he continued to hit solid approach shots, but just couldn’t make any putts. His lone bogey was due to a missed four-footer, and he had birdies misses of six, 10 and 12 feet, as well.
The strokes gained data checks out, as he was the fourth-best in the field on approach on Thursday, but lost more than a stroke on the greens.
My thought on Webb is that I am all in on him for matchups and DFS Showdown, but I am hesitant to chase those odds to win. The other school of thought is that if he finds his putter tomorrow and plays well on the Plantation Course, you aren’t likely to see those odds again.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
Typically on the fade side I am looking for players that struggled tee-to-green or at least with one aspect of their ball-striking, but made it up on the greens.
Three players stand out in that aspect from Thursday, though the first, Cameron Tringale, played on the Plantation Course only, giving us the traditional statistics. I won’t spend much time here, but Tringale ranked 105th in greens in regulation on Thursday, hitting just 11 of his 18, but still shot a 5-under 67 with the best putts per green in the entire field. The surface numbers point to him as a fit to fade going into Friday.
Robert Streb is another player that finds himself at 5 under going into Round 2, but had to rely too heavily on his putter for my liking. He gained a field-best 4.67 strokes on the greens, masking a tee-to-green game that was essentially field average on Thursday.
He lost strokes both off the tee and around the green on Day 1, and he will struggle to hold that hot putter — and his position on the leaderboard — the rest of the way.
It pains me to put in a fade on Patton Kizzire going into Friday, as he was one of my favorite longshots and cheap plays for DFS. Unfortunately, the strokes gained data tells the story of a player destined to tumble down the leaderboard if he doesn’t find his iron game on these second shot courses.
Kizzire lost 1.54 strokes on approach in the first round, but made up for it with his local knowledge on the greens. The Georgia alum was the second-best putter of the day, gaining 4.49 strokes with the flat stick. He’s a great putter, especially on Bermuda grass, but that number is not sustainable, and if the approach play doesn’t improve many of those putts may be to save par (or worse) going forward.
There are a handful of top players in the world playing this week, and when the field is light on big names, you can often find value against them. Jason Day fits that mold going into Friday, as he scraped out an under-par round with a birdie on his final hole on Thursday, but the numbers show it should’ve been much worse.
Day lost 2.36 strokes tee-to-green in the first round, losing strokes in every single category on the way to the green. His biggest issue was 1.45 strokes lost off the tee, but he was able to roll it well enough to hold the round together.
The former No. 1 player in the world gained 3.24 strokes on the greens on Thursday and he could certainly continue to putt well this weekend, but he seems lost with his ball-striking. I’ll look for good odds against him especially in matchups for Friday and will be fading him in DFS tomorrow.
Strokes Gained Data for Players on Seaside in Round 1