WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Round 2 Betting Tips Using Strokes Gained

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Photo credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Viktor Hovland

Just in time for Brooks Koepka‘s mediocre play of late to tank his pre-tournament odds, he comes out Thursday at the WGC-St. Jude and shoots a field-best 8-under round to take the lead by two.

He’s now the favorite at +225 at DraftKings, followed by Justin Thomas at 5-1, Bryson DeChambeau at 9-1 and Rickie Fowler at 11-1.

What should we expect the rest of the tournament? Let’s dive into Thursday’s data and take a look. But first, a quick note on Strokes Gained, which I’ll mention quite often in this piece.

(Click here to skip to the analysis section.)

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 has, 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 handle them 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 more stable long-term, and often you can find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well but just not getting putts to drop, which is more random. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

Read more about Strokes Gained here.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 2

Let’s start with Koepka. Yes, he putted incredibly well today, gaining 3.07 strokes with the short stick. But that’s also not uncommon for him when he’s really dialed in. When his game is on, the whole game is on.

But the most important indicator is his approach game, which was as good as we’ve seen from the multi-major champ. He gained 3.32 strokes with the approach and sits with a sizable lead in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. He’s the rightful favorite, and if he’s this dialed in moving forward, he’s going to dominate this field like we’ve seen him do many times before in big spots.

JT is an interesting buy at four back from Koepka. Thomas is obviously one of the most talented golfers in the world, and the game looked very solid Thursday, as he sat behind only Koepka in SG: Approach.

Interestingly, the short game was what hindered him from a better score, and it’s hard to imagine that continuing. JT is among the best in the world with his short game, so if the irons are on, this is the time to buy him.

And finally Viktor Hovland was my favorite bet prior to the tournament, and while he’s just 3-under and thus five shots back, his data is quite encouraging.

He’s been incredible since the COVID-19 return to golf and has seemingly been in contention every single week. At this point, I’d bet that he’ll be right in the top 10 with a chance to win again.

He’s in the top five after Round 1 in SG: Approach with his +2.88 mark, and he has a lot of room to improve given that he was mostly neutral off the tee and on the greens. He was actually quite poor scrambling, which I think should turn around given his long-term play. I like buying his top-10 odds right now.

[Bet now at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

Also, note that DraftKings has continued to offer a 30% profit boost on golf bets throughout the weekend. That means if you bet Hovland at 16/1 and he wins, you’ll actually get paid out at over 20/1.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2

Three guys I’m fading tomorrow are Shane Lowry, Tony Finau and Matthew Fitzpatrick, all of whom had very poor ball-striking marks, which are concerning and don’t bode well for the weekend.

Lowry was the least negative in that regard of the three, but he was also unusually good around-the-green and on it, which I’m skeptical will continue into tomorrow, especially if he keeps giving himself tough putts due to his second and third shots.

Finau is an interesting case: He obviously played very well last weekend and was in contention at the 3M Open, but man was the ball-striking poor today. He finished even, but probably should’ve been lower than that if it wasn’t for a hot putter, which is tough to bet on.

Fitzpatrick is naturally an amazing putter, but +4.08 strokes with the short stick? That will be hard to replicate, especially considering the approach game was so bad — which is probably why it was so high.

In general, I usually fade the guys who don’t seem to have it with those critical second and third shots, and while these three could turns things around, Thursday was rough enough to warrant some concern.

Alright, enough talk. Here’s the data for all players for Thursday.

Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 2

(Note: The graph below is interactive. Click/hover to see data.)

 

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