Wells Fargo Championship Final Round Buys & Fades: Stick with Keith Mitchell at Quail Hollow
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Keith Mitchell.
There were some low rounds available at Quail Hollow on Saturday as several players got out to good starts, but many stumbled down the final stretch at the Green Mile. Bryson DeChambeau was the first, as he went bogey-free through 17 holes before a plugged lie in the greenside bunker on the final hole led to a double bogey.
Others like Justin Thomas suffered a similar fate, but that wasn’t the case for Keith Mitchell who charged through the course with a bogey-free 66. He will take a two-shot lead into the final round on Sunday over Rory McIlroy who posted a 3-under 68.
The three leaders weren’t as fortunate on Saturday as only Gary Woodland was able to post an under-par round, and he will begin the final round in a tie for second with Rory at 7-under. Matt Wallace struggled out of the gates, as he lost four shots on the outward nine but got a couple back on a bogey-free back nine.
Patrick Rodgers was the worst of the bunch, as he actually posted the worst round in the field with an 8-over 79. He dropped all the way to a tie for 54th going into Sunday where he will look to find some of the form that had him at the top of the leaderboard through 36 holes.
The final round is set up for plenty of drama as we have a leader at the top, that although he’s a winner on TOUR, he has little experience in this position. He will also be matched up all day with one of the stars in the game in McIlroy. The main books I shop all have Rory at shorter odds than the two-stroke leader. This gives us plenty of value to go any direction with our buys and fades on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship.
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
It’s an easy call for me going into Sunday, I am riding the most consistent hot hand this week with Keith Mitchell. If you didn’t grab him in our buys on Saturday, the +280 on FanDuel isn’t bad with a two-shot lead going into the final round.
Mitchell was the best player off the tee on Saturday, gaining more than three shots on the field in the category that has been pegged as one of the most important at Quail Hollow. In fact, he’s been the best player off the tee all week. He ranked third overall in tee-to-green play and gained strokes in all metrics in the third round. As I mentioned yesterday when we put our first buy in on Keith, he’s a streaky player, and I’m doubling down that this hot streak carries through to a win on Mother’s Day.
While I’m holding firm with Mitchell, I’ll reverse course with Patrick Reed. He found his ball striking in the third round and climbed to a tie for seventh with a 2-under 69.
The key for Captain America on Saturday was his off-the-tee game where he gained nearly two strokes on the field. He wasn’t quite as sharp on approach, but he didn’t have to be around this course. Reed has the personality that I like in a chaser going into Sunday, and while he will need some help, he will undoubtedly be attacking pins. If he can dial in the irons a bit and keep his off-the-tee game sharp, his short game may have the final pairings keeping an eye on his name down the stretch. I really like the +2200 being hung on Reed at BetMGM, and he’s a player that won’t be fazed by the pressure or elements on Sunday.
There are high-wind gusts projected for Sunday’s final round at Quail Hollow, and that could bring more of the pack into play if Mitchell stumbles. My favorite play of that group is with Abraham Ancer who is +2800 on BetMGM, approaching double the odds of Viktor Hovland who is also at 4-under for the week.
Ancer has shown his typical strong ball striking this week, and that continued on Saturday as he gained more than two strokes on the field in that category. He gained a solid 2.32 strokes tee to green on the day, but the putter let him down, as he lost more than half of a stroke to the field on the greens. The eye for anyone at 4-under or further back will be the gap between them and second place, knowing that everyone will need some missteps from the leader. If Ancer can get off to a solid start early in his round, he can position himself to be aggressive and try to post a number for the final groups to chase as he seeks his first TOUR win.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4
Rory McIlroy is back in his rightful spot with me going into Sunday. I have stuck with a fade on what I have personally dubbed “Sunday Rory,” where he has time and again shown struggles in the final round when in contention. It has now been a year-and-a-half since Rory last won on TOUR, and at this stage I am willing to see it happen before I buy.
If you’re looking for more than my personal stance against “Sunday Rory,” the number from Saturday lines up with a player that is a viable fade. McIlroy was just above field average tee to green in the third round, losing strokes on approach and around the green. He was able to still score and post one of the better rounds of the day due to a hot putter. The Irishman gained more than three strokes on the greens on Saturday, which is certainly a rare occurrence for the 108th-ranked putter on TOUR this season. He can certainly win tomorrow, and I won’t be shocked if he does, but he’s a fade for me going into the round.
The oddsmakers have made a pretty clear stand going into Sunday with both Scott Stallings and Satoshi Kodaira. In digging deeper, I can see why that’s the case, and I too will play against them despite their history of wins on TOUR.
Stallings struggled out of the gates with his irons, and while he has put together back-to-back rounds of gaining strokes in both categories with his ball striking, he’s actually been quite average. He was the beneficiary of solid play around the greens on Saturday, which made up 1.63 strokes of the two he gained tee to green. He’s coming in with three missed cuts in his last five events, and just a best finish of 29th, making it hard to trust him from one of the final groups on Sunday.
The story is similar for Kodaira who gained the least amount of strokes tee to green of the top players on the leaderboard. He made up for it with 3.38 strokes with his putter, which allowed him to post a top round of the day at 3-under 68. He’s gained less than a half stroke on the field on average this week tee to green, but the hot putter has continued throughout the week. I just can’t buy into that continuing as the pressure rises in the final round.