Travelers Championship Round 2 Betting Tips: Using Strokes Gained to Find an Edge

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Photo credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia

Jun 26, 2020, 08:43 PM EDT

Well, I hope all of you are holding onto some Mackenzie Hughes 300/1 tickets, because man was that quite an opening round. The 29-year-old Canadian didn’t just claim the first-round lead — he snatched it with a vengeance and is up three strokes on the entire field entering Friday’s cut round.

He has some old, friendly names below him, though, including Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele, who own a share of second place with Viktor Hovland at -7. And then in fifth place are Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and a 50-year-old Phil Mickelson, among others. What year is it again?

We’re in for quite a tournament, so let’s go through the nitty-gritty of what happened Thursday and what it means moving forward.

Golfers to Buy, Fade in Round 2

Hughes is the story of Thursday and rightfully so, but man is Rory a lurking beast behind him. McIlroy was fairly neutral with his short game, but the rest of it was dominant: He doesn’t just lead the field in Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (which is SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Approach combined) — he nearly doubled up any other player with his +5.50 mark.

He should be the betting favorite, and alas he is at DraftKings at 4/1 currently. That’s a little steep to buy right now, but he’s the scariest fade on the board. If he plays like he did Thursday, no one — not a single player — can keep up.

If you want a position, Sergio Garcia might be the guy to buy. I honestly can’t believe I wasn’t on him more this week.

He had a miserable Thursday round last week at Heritage, but I wrote up after that first round that he was striking the hell out of the ball and sat first in SG: Tee-to-Green. And then the following three days, he was probably the best golfer out on the course. If the tournament was five days instead of four, he would’ve won the darn thing.

And apparently, he’s continued right where he left off, shooting a 6-under round but more importantly posting a +3.56 SG: Ball-Striking score — second-best in the field behind only Rory. He should be more in the 10-12/1 range, but instead he’s down at 18/1, which I think provides value given how he’s playing.

And here’s something you definitely should consider before you live-bet this tournament: DraftKings is offering a 30% profit boost in each round of the Travelers, meaning if you want to bet on Sergio to win the tournament at +1800 and use this promotion, you’d actually get him at +2340.

And that means a Sergio win would net you $585 instead of $450 on a $25 bet.

 

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If you’re curious, behind Rory and Sergio in SG: Ball-Striking are Emiliano Grillo (-3), Russell Henley (-5), Scott Stallings (-4) and Phil Mickelson (-6). I’ll admit I completely whiffed on Phil this week; I wrote about not liking him, and he looked great today. Good stuff, Phil (although you’re making me look bad).

Hughes, as sad as it might be, is a fairly easy fade over the rest of the weekend. He wasn’t terrible tee-to-green by any means — in fact, he was in the top-10 in that regard — but he also gained an absurd 5.01 strokes putting and 2.01 strokes around-the-green. Those will come back to earth hard.

Other guys who got especially hot with the putter include Seung-Yul Noh, Bo Hoag, Xinjun Zhang, Xander and Louis. On the other side of things, Grillo, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth and Cameron Percy all posted solid tee-to-green games but sucked with the putter; they’re tentative buys.

All in all, I’d look at the data below to find which guys to buy and fade in matchups Friday, and in terms of outrights I’d look to get Rory later tomorrow if he falls into the 8/1 range and I like Sergio at below 15/1 right now.

Alright, enough talk. Here’s the data for all players for Friday.

Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 1

(Note: The graph below is interactive. Click/hover to see data.)

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