Wells Fargo Championship Round 3 Buys & Fades: Buy Chasers Like Bubba Watson at Quail Hollow
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Bubba Watson.
The course at Quail Hollow bit back on Friday, after over 50 players shot under par in their opening round, that number was nearly cut in half in the second round. The story was the wind, especially for the afternoon wave that got the short end of the stick in both rounds as the afternoon/morning tee times had more than a two-stroke advantage this week.
One of the biggest stories in a positive direction was the play of Rory McIlroy who posted the second-best round of the day with a 5-under 66 as he dialed in his approach game. Rory was the best player in that category on the day and the top player in the field tee to green by more than a full stroke. He will head into moving day in a tie for fifth, two shots back of the leaders.
Those leaders were also the beneficiaries of the better draw as Patrick Rodgers, Matt Wallace and Gary Woodland were able to post consecutive rounds under par to open their week. They each sit at 6-under, with Wallace and Woodland making up the final pairing on Saturday. Kramer Hickok is the lone player at 5-under, and he will join Rodgers in the penultimate pairing.
Overall, 78 players made the cut, with just eight strokes separating the final cut makers from the leaders. Bryson DeChambeau made it on the number, though it appears he flew back to Dallas presuming a missed cut, and posted on Instagram that he will head back for his Saturday morning tee time in Charlotte. Jon Rahm was not so fortunate as he missed the cut, breaking the longest cuts-made streak on TOUR.
Everyone is still packed together, and now there will be no waves to take advantage of as it appears the weather will be more consistent throughout the day on Saturday. We should see plenty of players make big moves in the third round, creating some great value in the betting markets.
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 3
The easy play to start on Saturday is with Rory McIlroy who lapped the field from a strokes gained perspective on Friday, but if you’ve followed this article you know I am believer in the perils of Sunday Rory. He has now become the tournament favorite at just +500 despite his two-shot deficit, so I’ll happily look elsewhere betting and possibly in DFS where his ownership is likely to be sky high.
Instead, I will buy a different player at 4-under on the week in Keith Mitchell. We have seen the former Georgia Bulldog be a streaky player with an obvious preference for the Bermudagrass he is playing on this week, and he has been hot through two rounds.
Mitchell is averaging more than three strokes ball striking through his first two rounds, and he is backing it up on the greens with nearly a full shot gained on average. He’s won on a tough course before at the Honda Classic, and there are some similarities to that event and Quail Hollow. I’ll jump on the value of +3300 on DraftKings, with the hopes he stays hot this weekend.
The next best value on the board in my eyes is just one shot further back with Bubba Watson. We all know that Bubba needs to have good feelings at a course in order to contend, and it appears he is seeing things well at Quail Hollow through the first two rounds.
He shot a 2-under 69 on Friday where he gained more than three-and-a-half strokes tee to green and nearly three strokes ball striking. It was a second straight round of plus ball striking in both metrics, and he has also rolled it well on the greens. Bubba checks in at +2200 on DraftKings going into moving day, and that’s solid value for a feel player like Watson who is clearly showing some form this week.
My final buy is going to be a bit of a bomb, but it’s hard to ignore what Nick Taylor has done through two rounds. The Canadian has gained strokes in both ball striking metrics on Thursday and Friday. He lost more than three strokes on the greens in the opening round but was able to bounce back and gain more than a stroke on the field putting in the second round.
Taylor’s 4-under 67 was one of the best rounds of the day on Friday, and now he’s just five shots back heading to the weekend. He has winning experience on TOUR, and he has value for a sprinkle at +25000 on BetMGM with a little heavier focus on finishing position.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
My first fade isn’t going to show up as an issue in the strokes gained numbers, but instead it’s a fade of a player who really hasn’t been in a spot like he will be on Saturday. Kramer Hickok has missed five of his last seven cuts and finished outside of the top 55 in the two he made. He goes into Saturday in a very different position, one shot back of the lead and playing from the second-to-last tee time.
I know there will be a lot of nerves for Hickok in this spot, and generally it’s one that a player needs to be in a few times before they find success. I’ll put the fade in based on the moment more than the stats for Kramer on moving day.
I didn’t put a fade in on Phil Mickelson going into Friday, but his struggles were a bit predictable. It’s always difficult to follow up a strong round on TOUR with another, and that played out in the second round. I don’t want to kick the guy when he’s down now, but I don’t see things getting any better for Lefty this weekend.
He really hasn’t shown the ability to put many rounds together over an entire tournament on TOUR and has even had his struggles on the Champions circuit at times. Phil lost every part of his game on Friday, as he lost strokes to the field in every tee-to-green metric, and as this course gets firmer and faster this weekend, I think we will continue to see him drop down the leaderboard.
One of the players I thought might bounce back with his game heading into this week was Patrick Reed. He played the Valspar after a bit of a layoff and sputtered to a missed cut, which I chalked up to some tournament rust. While he has done better to find the weekend in Charlotte, it hasn’t been pretty tee to green.
Reed needed a fiery putter on Friday to post a 2-under round as he gained more than four strokes on the greens, which made up for his strokes lost ball striking. He lost strokes tee to green on the day and more than a stroke-and-a-half ball striking as he really struggled off the tee. His strong short game certainly made up for it to put him just four shots back going into Saturday, but my fade is around the poor form we have seen out of him now for two weeks straight.