Waste Management Phoenix Open Round 2 Buys & Fades: Finding Value Using Strokes Gained Data

Waste Management Phoenix Open Round 2 Buys & Fades: Finding Value Using Strokes Gained Data article feature image
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Tom Hauck/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Nate Lashley.

It was great to finally see and hear some fans around the course Thursday at TPC Scottsdale, even if it wasn’t the atmosphere we are used to for the “Greatest Show on Grass.” The 5,000 or so fans bring just a little something to these tournaments that has been lacking for so long and it’s hopefully a sign that things are trending in the right direction.

Speaking of trending in the right direction, Matt NeSmith carried the momentum of a good finish at the Farmers into a bogey-free 8-under round on Thursday. He would later be matched by Mark Hubbard who birdied his final four holes and five of his final six to also post a 63. They will take a one-shot lead into Friday over Nate Lashley and Sam Burns, with U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Steve Stricker just two shots back.

As you know, I love to dip down the leaderboard for the chasers heading into Round 2 and we should have plenty to choose from with some big names just a handful of shots behind. We should be able to dig out plenty of value through the strokes gained data after the first 18 holes.

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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 2

I don’t usually go this high up the leaderboard after one round, but this is a value play in the betting markets. Nate Lashley has now posted his fifth consecutive round in the 60s at TPC Scottsdale as he stormed out of the gates with a 7-under 64 on Thursday.

Lashley made it happen with every club in the bag in Round 1 as he gained 3.88 strokes on the field tee-to-green, and another 2.48 strokes putting. Every aspect of his game was dialed in, and it comes off of a third-place finish at his first appearance at this event last year.

Understandably, the bookmakers are less bullish on a guy with back-to-back missed cuts to start the year as they have him listed at +4100 on FanDuel behind some bigger names that are six shots behind him. It’s certainly a longshot to expect him to win, but this is clearly a course that suits his eye and there’s no denying the data he put out in his first round.

There are certain players that just simply run hot or cold, and when they are hot they’re a threat to win any event. Billy Horschel is one of those players and it appears we may have the good version this week at the Waste Management.

Horschel started his tournament with a 5-under 66 with nine birdies and four bogeys in the round. He gained a field-best 3.41 strokes on approach, and added another 1.42 off the tee. That type of ball striking is what has me willing to jump on the +2000 available on BetMGM, and I’ll really be buying in on him for the DraftKings Showdown slate on Friday.

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He may run out of gas at some point during this tournament, but I can’t go without mentioning Nick Hardy after Thursday’s round. For the second time this year Hardy made it into an event by Monday Qualifying. He used the opportunity at the Sony Open to post a tie for 14th, and is off to a great start at the Waste Management after an opening-round 68.

Hardy had to birdie his final two holes on Monday to force a playoff, was able to get that done and win his spot at TPC Scottsdale on the first playoff hole. He is clearly playing great golf and the data reflected that on Thursday.

He gained more than a stroke on the field in each ball striking category, including 1.52 strokes with his irons. Overall, he gained 2.67 strokes tee-to-green, and was really just let down a bit by his putter.

The books still have the Illinois grad at +20000 to win this week, and while you can sprinkle that, I will target some Top 20 odds to get some viable action on him this week.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2

The first fade into Friday comes with Tom Hoge, who started the Waste Management Phoenix Open with a 5-under 66. He will head into the second round in a tie for sixth alongside five others.

Hoge was able to put a solid round together despite just field-average ball-striking on the day. He was a flat zero on approach and gained just .33 strokes off the tee, but the putter would carry him to a low round. Hoge was the fifth-best putter on the day gaining more than three strokes on the field with the flat stick, which was a great day for a player who ranked 97th in putting last season.

As we know, the putter is the club in the bag from day-to-day with the most variance, and with Hoge not showing any real strength in either of his ball-striking categories, it makes him a pretty straightforward fade into Round 2.

This isn’t a splash fade, but it looks like a fairly easy one. Ted Potter Jr. had a nice first round with a 5-under 66 to sit just three shots back of the leader. He was able to get in with six birdies and just one bogey.

My issue with Potter is the way he got it done on Thursday as he lost strokes in both ball striking metrics, but more than made up for that on and around the greens. He gained more than five shots on the field with his short game, including 3.21 strokes gained on the field with his putter. Now, this is a carry over from the Farmers where he gained 5.9 strokes on those greens, but I’ll still put my money against that continuing throughout the weekend.

There haven’t been many opportunities to put a fade in on Jordan Spieth, as he simply hasn’t been able to get his name high enough on the leaderboard lately to be in the conversation. He was able to get himself into a tie for 12th after the first round, with a solid 4-under 67 to start his week.

The fade for Spieth is partially due the fact we have seen him put 18 holes together at times, but really struggle to maintain consistency over multiple rounds. I am taking a full wait-and-see approach on Jordan until he shows he can do it through a full tournament, and despite the nice round, he still had many of the same ball striking issues.

Spieth lost 1.82 strokes to the field off the tee on Thursday, hitting just two fairways, leading him to lose strokes overall tee to green on the day. He was able to make it in with just one bogey despite the driving issues as he had a hot putter, gaining 3.79 strokes on the greens. Again, this is a familiar stat line for Jordan lately, and until he shows the ability to consistently put rounds together, he will remain a fade for me.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 1