Wells Fargo Championship Round 2 Buys & Fades: Buy Dahmen and Conners With Mickelson Leading
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Dahmen.
We knew coming into the week that off-the-tee play and hitting it long was a key at Quail Hollow, and that played out for the leader in the first round. It may not have been the modern bomber that we expected, but rather the 50 year-old Phil Mickelson who set the pace on Thursday. He was able to “hit bombs” all over the course in Charlotte on his way to a 7-under 64 which bested the rest of the field by two shots.
Last week’s 54-hole co-leader Keegan Bradley matched the morning-round 66 shot by Kyoung-Hoon Lee who played a great round in the more difficult wave on Thursday. Ultimately, the afternoon tee times outscored the morning wave by nearly a full stroke, and that spread may get larger on Friday as winds are expected to pick up in the afternoon.
There are six others that shot 4-under in the opening round, headlined by Tommy Fleetwood and Gary Woodland, with 52 players in total firing under-par scores to start the week. Despite the lead for Phil, there are plenty of players within shouting distance and a lot of golf to be played, making for an enticing betting market 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
Some players just get it when it comes to social media and Joel Dahmen is certainly one of them. The banter he, Phil, and Lanto Griffin have had to start the week has been great as they were paired together for the first two rounds. Phil certainly stole the show on Thursday, but Dahmen sets up to be a factor the rest of the weekend.
He ranked fourth in the field in the opening round in strokes gained tee to green, and he did most of it with a sharp approach game. Dahmen ranked second on the day with 3.11 strokes gained with his irons, which was remarkably 2.4 strokes behind Jason Dufner. I do have a bit of concern that he was essentially field average off the tee at a place that has shown time and again you have to be strong from the tee or have a hot putter. Dahmen was able to post a 3-under round despite not having either of those aspects in great form, and if he can turn it up a bit he could be a name to watch.
I will take a few shares of him at +4500 on DraftKings as he’s got the winning monkey off his back and is playing a course where he finished runner-up to Max Homa in 2019. He’s got a comfort level around Quail Hollow and in his group that could have him set to make a move for a late tee time going into Saturday.
One of my favorite buys into Friday is pretty clear with Corey Conners. We know that the Canadian is an elite ball striker that needs some help from the putter to contend, and while he has made strides with the short game, the flat stick wasn’t much help on Thursday.
Conners lost more than a stroke-and-a-half to the field on the greens, which caused him to leave some shots out there on a day when he ranked fifth in strokes gained tee to green.
The part that really has me liking what we saw from Conners on Thursday was that he was strong in ever aspect of his tee to green game. He gained more than a stroke on the field in every metric, adding up to the 4.44 gained in the category. He’s +2000 across all of the major books, and I think it’s a number worth biting on heading into the second round as he heads back to the course with a preferred morning tee time.
I took Joaquin Niemann as one of my best bets to win to start the week, and with an even par opening round, there are some solid numbers available on him into Friday.
Niemann did exactly what I had expected he would this week as he gained more than three strokes on the field ball striking, including 2.01 strokes off the tee. As has been common for him, he just missed the mark on and around the greens. We know he has been working hard on his short game, and if he continues to be strong on approach, he can give himself a chance to get back into contention. If you aren’t already in on him, I’d bite at the +5000 available at BetMGM, as he’s a hot putter on Friday from being in the mix this weekend.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
The clear fade to start the week is with Kyoung-Hoon Lee. He had a fantastic start to the week posting a 5-under round to set the pace in what ended up being the more difficult morning wave, but the way he did it makes him an easy fade into the second round.
Lee gained a remarkable 6.04 strokes putting on Thursday, which is highlighted even further when you see he ranks 174th on TOUR in putting this season. His putter was so hot that it made up for the fact he actually lost strokes to the field tee to green, and still posted the second-best round of the day. This is a green-light-special spot to attack in matchups tomorrow.
My second fade comes in the same realm as Lee, as Peter Malnati charged out with a strong opening round on Thursday. He was able to put it together in the difficult morning conditions, but he did most of his work with a strong game around the green.
He peaked in that aspect with a hole-out from the greenside bunker for birdie on the fifth hole, and otherwise put just about every chip shot within a five-foot circle. He could certainly continue that play or find his typically strong putter, but I’ll fade the average ball striking we saw from him today, especially in the winds tomorrow afternoon.
Patrick Rodgers managed to post a 3-under 68 despite losing 1.73 strokes to the field ball striking, as he made up for all of those and more on and around the greens. He gained more than five-and-a-half strokes with his short game on Thursday, which allowed him to overcome two double bogeys in his round.
Rodgers isn’t overly strong in either category on the season, and without much semblance of a ball striking game, I see the ugly dropped shots more prevalent than the 40- and 50-foot birdies from off the green on Friday.