Travelers Championship Round 4 Betting Tips: Using Strokes Gained to Find an Edge
Photo credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Dustin Johnson
Mackenzie Hughes, Will Gordon, Brendon Todd: The story of the Travelers Championship so far has been lower-name golfers rising to the top of the leaderboard each day after incredible rounds.
Will a longshot be able to finish it out or will a big boy like Dustin Johnson (lurking two behind Todd for the lead) or Bryson DeChambeau (five back) catch them?
One thing that does seem likely is that the winner will have to go quite low tomorrow in order to snatch victory. On Saturday, both Todd and DJ put up 9-under rounds, and with the course conditions and weather, don’t be surprised if you see some similar numbers around the course.
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One thing that is a little different this week is that Todd, currently in the lead at -18, has a sizable lead over\ the non-DJ field. Bryson, for reference, is just in fifth place but is five strokes back. We’re in for quite a Sunday.
Let’s dive into what’s happened the first three rounds and see what value we can find ahead of tomorrow.
But first, a quick explanation on Strokes Gained data and what it means for golf handicapping.
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 is 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.
3 Golfers to Buy in Round 4
Todd isn’t a name like DJ, but the 34-year-old Georgia Bulldog does have seven career wins to his credit, including three on the PGA Tour. His first was in 2014, but the most recent two came just in 2019. He’s clearly shown that he has the talent to close out a tournament, even if they were worse fields than what we find this week.
And honestly, according to the data, he’s been the best golfer this week. He leads all golfers by a sizable margin in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, and while the putter was a strength Saturday, it hadn’t really been the first two days. What he has done is consistently strike the ball well, and it allowed him to put the 9-under round to use in jumping to the lead.
He should be the favorite ahead of Sunday, and at DraftKings he is at +175. The big question is how many players are actually in contention. It matters, of course, how Todd plays. But let’s say he puts up a 4- or 5-under round; that’s probably good enough to hold off anyone outside of the top-four currently. That lead in itself gives him a ton of win equity.
DJ is the most likely guy to catch him, and DraftKings agrees given his +200 number. He was an absolute monster in Round 3, gaining a stupid 5.28 strokes on the field tee-to-green. He actually was superior to Todd in ball-striking; Todd was a little better on the greens.
By the way, 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. That means if you want to bet DJ at +200 for $25, you’d actually win $65 rather than $50, boosting your odds to +260.
In that case, you can actually bet both DJ and Todd, effectively getting a “those guys vs. the field” bet thanks the promotion. I think they’re appropriately priced as is, but the promo definitely changes things.
Anyway, the last guy to buy is Viktor Hovland, who is too far behind -11 (so seven back from Todd) but is definitely trending up. He was third on Saturday behind DJ and Todd in ball-striking but wasn’t able to quite jump up the leaderboard thanks to poor luck around and on the green.
Motivation could matter Sunday given the big leads, but Hovland is young at 22 and might be more hungry — if you’re into the narrative angles. I wouldn’t bet him to win, but getting him at plus money to get into the top-10 is solid given his play of late.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4
Let’s start with Kevin Streelman, who is actually one of the few players to be within striking distance at 15-under currently after his -7 Saturday round. And the number isn’t terrible at 7-1 given that fact, but the data suggests he could be due for regression. He gained almost all of his strokes on or around the green Saturday, making the -7 number a little like fool’s gold.
He was in the bottom-half of the field in putting entering the tournament, so I’m hesitant to buy that it’ll continue Sunday.
Although remember, golf is incredibly random. Marc Leishman, for example, had good ball-striking metrics Friday but then was utterly terrible today. Putting is more random, which is why it can be a place to identify regression, but regression may not come. Or it may come later.
The other two fades are for very similar reasons: Brendan Steele and Brandt Snedeker have been poor ball-striking the last couple rounds but have kept their rounds afloat by excellent short games. To be fair, Snedeker is already an incredible putter — so he should gain strokes on the field on average — but I am worried about the ball-striking.
That’s a good lesson to remember in these exercises: While data should regress, you can’t just blindly regress all players to the same place. Golfers are obviously skilled at different things, so a good putter likely has a higher chance to stay good at putting. Just something to keep in mind.
Alright, enough talk. Here’s the data for all players for Saturday
Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 3
(Note: The graph below is interactive. Click/hover to see data.)