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RSM Classic Round 3 Buys & Fades: Finding Value Using Strokes Gained Data

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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Camilo Villegas.

The weather was calmer Friday at The RSM Classic and created better scoring conditions, especially for those playing the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club. The 18-hole layout played nearly two strokes under par in the second round in St. Simons Island, Ga.

Eight of the top 10 on the leaderboard played the easier course, including 36-hole leader Robert Streb, who tore it up on his way to a 9-under 63. Streb goes go into Saturday with a two-stroke lead over Camilo Villegas, and three strokes ahead of Bronson Burgoon, who matched his 63.

Several current residents of Sea Island are also in striking distance of the lead, with Patton Kizzire, Harris English and Zach Johnson lingering just a few shots back of the front runners.

As we roll into the strokes gained data for Round 3, I have provided the numbers for all players that made the weekend. However, keep in mind they only consist of one round. The statistics are pulled solely from the Seaside Course, which each player competed on either Thursday or Friday.

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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 3

My first buy of the weekend is Camilo Villegas, with part of it because he’s playing outstanding golf through two rounds, but most of it is just wanting him to win for everything he’s been through.

I’ve written about it before and it’s been well documented, but if you didn’t know, Villegas lost his 22-month old daughter, Mia, this summer to cancer. On Thursday, Villegas commented that while he was on the range before his round he saw a rainbow, which was something Mia loved. He said he thought of her and said, “Hey, let’s have a good one.”

Camilo would go on to shoot 6-under Thursday, then follow it up with the same Friday score. The Colombian has been understandably inconsistent this season, but has put himself in contention going into the weekend a couple of times. He is in good form, and I will be rooting for him to find a way to pull it off.

It’s been an odd calendar year for Kyle Stanley. His ball striking has struggled throughout the year, resulting in a bunch of missed cuts and only one top-25 finish since June. Stanley appears to have found his groove this week, as he’s 10th in fairways hit and first in greens in regulation through two rounds.

Stanley followed up his opening-round 67 with a bogey-free 65 on the Plantation Course. He finds himself just four shots back, and appears to be putting well. The Clemson alumnus ranks 33rd in putts per green, and gained strokes on the greens in his first round on the Seaside Course.

The numbers show Stanley being the steadiest of the chasers, as he is playing well throughout his bag. He is well-conditioned to make a run near the top this weekend. I’ll take some shares on him in all betting markets, including a solid +2000 available at DraftKings on him to win.

There has been a history of players coming from several shots behind on Sunday to win The RSM Classic , so I am not writing off anyone up to about seven shots back going into Moving Day. One player who falls in that range is Joel Dahmen, who can run hot or cold with his game.

Dahmen was on fire Friday with his 9-under 61, but he played his round on the Seaside Course, where others that had that round today did it on the Plantation. I like that Dahmen gets to turn around and play the same course Saturday, carrying good vibes with him from his prior round.

Dahmen lapped the field by three shots tee-to-green Friday, so I will ride that hot hand into the weekend excitement.

Read more about Strokes Gained here.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

Bronson Burgoon checks in for the first fade. He had a fantastic second round, with nine birdies and no bogeys on his way to matching top round of the day.  There isn’t anything to nit-pick about his round, but my fade is more around his form — or lack thereof — over the past 12 months.

Burgoon hasn’t had a single top-30 finish in the last year, coming into this event missing the cut in four of his last five tournaments. Now, he has to follow up that low round of The RSM Classic by going out in Saturday’s final group.

I am putting the fade in on the unfamiliar position that Burgoon will find himself in to start the third round, expecting it will get the better of him as he looks to firm up his game.

There aren’t many players toward the top of the leaderboard to point to from a strokes gained perspective, but Kevin Kisner is one that will be a fade for me. Kisner has been solid off-the-tee, hitting 89% of his fairways. However, that has translated into just 69% of greens hit in regulation.

Those lackluster approach numbers show in his strokes gained data for the second round, where he lost shots to the field on the Seaside Course. Kisner is a former winner of The RSM Classic, but he has also had issues making cuts or competing in other years. I don’t think the he can stay near the top of the leaderboard unless he finds his irons this weekend.

Another player that found a good round on the Seaside, but did it with lackluster iron play, was Wyndham Clark. He shot a 4-under 66 to move into a tie for 22nd place, despite losing 1.48 shots on approach.

Clark’s around-the-green game was the story, as he gained 2.66 shots in that category, including a 30-foot hole out from the fringe on the fourth hole and a chip-in on the 11th hole. His round was solid to shoot him into range of the Top 10, but it appears to be smoke and mirrors, making him a fade in all markets.

Strokes Gained Data for Players in Round 2

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