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RSM Classic Round 4 Buys & Fades: Finding Value Using Strokes Gained Data

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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Robert Streb.

Robert Streb took a two-shot lead into Saturday’s third round at The RSM Classic, only to better that edge heading into Sunday’s final round.

The 2015 event champion has played fantastic golf, navigating his way through difficult winds Saturday to shoot a bogey-free 67 and secure a three-shot lead. By my count, Streb has gone 42 holes without a bogey. If that trend continues Sunday, he’ll be difficult to keep out of the winner’s circle.

Zach Johnson and Bronson Burgoon will join Streb in the final threesome, tied at 14 under par and three shots behind Streb. It was Johnson who matched the best round of the day, firing a round of 65 to get in the mix.

Emiliano Grillo also shot 5 under par and begins the final round four shots back in fourth place. Kevin Kisner, Kyle Stanley and Camilo Villegas round out the top 5 at 12 under par.

We finally have all the players on the same course to give us some viable strokes gained data heading into Sunday’s final 18 holes, as we look to find someone to run down Streb. Let’s see who stands out in the chasing pack.

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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 4

Time after time, the announcers were questioning Streb off the tee or giving him minimal chance to hit difficult shots. However, “Big Shot Bob” pulled off his shots every time. If he continues to do that Sunday, it will take something special for another player to chase him down.

The main thing that has me buying Streb is not only the three-shot lead, but the fact neither player joining him in the final group is standing out either. Each of them is showing similar flaws, with their respective iron play a touch below par versus the field. Simply, they’re all rolling it well on the greens.

Obviously, Streb has the most margin for error, but he’s clearly made little to none over the first 54 holes. And honestly, there’s no reason to expect him to falter Sunday in my opinion.

I’m buying Streb for the win and would focus on him mostly in DFS Showdown.

Emiliano Grillo is the player whose stats stand out the most heading into the final round. Grillo matched the best round of the day through great ball-striking, which  had him gain more than three shots on the field.

Grillo was the third best in the field tee-to-green, but it’s always about putting for the Argentinian. He was able to roll it at just above field average, which is a big success for him. In fact, Emiliano has averaged more than a stroke gained on the greens in each of his two rounds on the Seaside Course.

If Grillo can continue that trend, he may still need some help from Streb, but will be right there if the opportunities to capitalize present themselves.

My final buy will have to come from six strokes back, but Matthew NeSmith has shown he knows how to go low on the Seaside Course.

NeSmith shot a blazing 61 on Friday, playing the harder of the two courses that day, as most of the other low scorers did their work on the Plantation Course. He followed it up Saturday with a 66, which would’ve been much better had his putter cooperated.

Most notably, NeSmith missed a birdie putt from less than 3 feet on his 11th hole in the third round, contributing heavily to his lost strokes on the greens during the round.

If NeSmith can keep the magic going with his ball striking and do better putting, he could throw himself into contention. He might need another round of 61 or 62, but could pull off the improbable victory.

I’ll take a bite in all betting markets, but most prominently in DFS Sunday Showdown.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4

Just about everyone I have faded this week has gone out to compete for the best round of the day, so I’m reversing course and putting the fade in on Camilo Villegas.

Naturally, he was a buy for me going into Saturday’s round, which jinxed him into an even-par effort. Hopefully, this fade can do the reverse for the Colombian.

Villegas lost just about all of his game during Saturday’s 18 holes. He was field average tee-to-green, thanks to a good day around the greens, but lost strokes in both ball striking metrics. The putter also failed him, losing more than a full stroke to the field on the greens.

If the ball striking continues to be an issue, he will only drop further down the leaderboard and out of contention.

I’ll reverse course on Villegas to a double down on Patton Kizzire. The Sea Island native has performed absolute magic on the greens, putting himself in a tie for eighth place and six shots back. I wrote about his ball-striking issues after the first round, which are still a problem.

Kizzire has averaged 3.54 strokes gained on the greens, while losing 1.63 tee-to-green, including dropping shots both off-the-tee and on approach. It’s truly a miraculous act he has performed to be in this position, so I’ll side with the show losing steam in a big way.

Chesson Hadley was on track for the round of the day, as he was bogey-free and 4 under through 11 holes. He would add another birdie before dropping a shot at his final hole to post a round of 66, moving into a tie for 19th place. I think many will see that round and chase it, as he’s typically a player that can run hot. Yet, the way he did it in the third round as a cause for pause.

Hadley lost strokes to the field tee-to-green, off-the-tee and on approach in the third round, but made up for it with 3.12 strokes gained putting. If that’s not a career-best day on the greens, then it has to be close for a guy that ranked 121st in putting last season.

Needless to say, I am  looking for every way I can to play against Hadley.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 3

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