Valero Texas Open Round 2 Buys and Fades: Buy Sebastian Munoz, Fade Top of the Leaderboard
Steve Dykes/Getty Images. Pictured: Sebastian Munoz.
It felt good to be back to traditional stroke play on Thursday at the Valero Texas Open. The players in the morning wave went off in cool conditions, then ran into a bit of wind about halfway through their rounds. It started to impact them as just three players broke 70 on the par 72.
Texas native Jordan Spieth led the way for the morning tee times with a 5-under 67, one shot better than fellow Longhorn Scottie Scheffler. The afternoon players benefited from a little warmer weather and some more benign conditions, resulting in nearly a half shot difference between the waves.
Hideki Matusyama started out hot in the afternoon session, showing flashes of the ball-striking form we have known from him in years past. He cooled down the stretch but finds himself in a tie for third heading into Friday. The first-round leader is Camilo Villegas, who caught fire as he made the turn through his opening round. He had birdies on six of seven holes in the middle stretch of his round and closed it with a holeout on 18. Villegas shot a remarkable 8-under 64 for a two-shot lead over Sung Kang and Cameron Tringale.
There are still three rounds to go and with some big names lurking behind the leader, I will look down the leaderboard for my buys into Friday. Let’s see who stands out in the stats heading 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
My first look for buys down the leaderboard will be in finding the players with the best approach play and overall ball striking from Thursday’s round. The first that stands out for me is with Sebastian Munoz. I’ve gone to this well a few times in the past several months, with him having enjoyed a strong run of play during the fall swing. Munoz is a streaky player, which has me apt to jump on him when I see good form like he showed on Thursday at TPC San Antonio.
Munoz gained more than two strokes on the field with his irons and added another full stroke off the tee. He was solid all around tee to green, gaining strokes in all metrics, and added a decent putter to fire a solid round. He will start Friday just two shots back of the leader and gets an opportunity to get right back after it first thing tomorrow morning. I will be on the Colombian to keep his scoring going in Round 2, and to be around the leaders all weekend.
You can get Munoz at +2200 on BetMGM.
One of the players from the morning wave that quietly posted a solid round was Ryan Moore. He did nearly all of it on approach, gaining more than three shots on the field with his irons, leading everyone in that category, and he held to about field average off the tee.
I will look for Moore to dial in a little more with his driver and while he is never one to out drive many with distance, he can improve on hitting more than the nine fairways he had on Thursday. If he can keep it in the short grass, we know his approach play is dialed in to take advantage.
I am happy to grab an early share of Moore at +8000 on FanDuel and hope he can find the putter heading to the weekend.
Si Woo Kim was on my betting card to start the week, and he did everything I expected from him tee to green on Thursday. His issue was a complete inability to put the ball in the hole from short range.
Kim lost two strokes to the field on the greens, which was boosted mostly from three putts from 15 feet on the first hole and three feet on the 13th. He capped it off with a missed five footer on the last hole, dropping him back to even par on the day.
I am still bullish on Si Woo with 54 holes to play, as he gained 3.44 strokes on the field tee to green on Thursday, and simply can’t continue to putt that poorly the rest of the way. I expect him to come out with a solid, low round on Friday and get back in the mix heading into the weekend at TPC San Antonio.
You can bet Kim at +6600 on DraftKings.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
Unfortunately, the stats say my first fade is with someone I like to root for in Camilo Villegas. He had a great round on Thursday, but it was extremely putter driven as he gained more than four strokes on the field with the flat stick. The Colombian actually gained more than eight (!!) strokes on and around the greens in his opening round at the Valero Texas Open. I think it goes without saying that that won’t continue.
My biggest concern for Villegas the rest of the way is that he was just about field average with his irons in the first round. If he can’t find his ball striking heading into Friday and hit more than half of his greens in regulation, he is likely set up to fall down the leaderboard in the second round.
There is no doubt that TPC San Antonio is mostly a second-shot golf course, but players have to still be competent off the tee. Sung Kang made magic happen with his irons and putter on Thursday, despite losing more than a stroke to the field off the tee.
Kang hit just five fairways on the day but was still able to make his way around the course with a 6-under 66. He was the best player on approach and third best with his irons, which allowed him to get away with shots from the rough. I’ll put my fade in on Kang early since I know his putting is unsustainable and if he can’t find the other half of his ball striking, the approach play will fade too.
My final fade into Friday comes a little further down the board at 2-under with Rafa Cabrera-Bello. He shot a solid score to put himself inside of the top 15 heading into the second round, but it came together without much help on approach.
RCB’s round was held together by gaining more than three strokes on and around the greens, including more than two strokes gained with the putter. He’s missed the cut in four of his last five tournaments on TOUR, so I will be skeptical that he found something when the ball striking numbers show otherwise.
Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 1
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