WGC Workday Championship Round 3 Buys & Fades: Finding Value Using Strokes Gained Data
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Cameron Smith.
It’s been a fun 36 holes at The Concession as many of the best players in the world try to navigate a new TOUR course that has some bite. It seems to pose the right combination of rewarding great shots, while also punishing poor ones.
Brooks Koepka was mostly on the positive end of that draw. He put one of the better rounds together on Friday as he surged to the 36-hole lead despite a bogey on his final hole. Cameron Smith, Billy Horschel and Collin Morikawa all sit just one shot behind his lead at 10-under heading into the weekend. Another threesome of top tier players is just another shot behind, as 12 players in total are just four shots back of Koepka.
This sets up to be a great weekend of golf as the top players in the world look to battle it out all weekend on a course that can provide drastic changes in the leaderboard around every turn. It’s hard not to like what Koepka has done through two rounds, but the best values into the weekend are in those a little further down the leaderboard.
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
I’ll start my buy section by saying that I love the plays we made Friday with Morikawa and Justin Thomas. There isn’t much value left in Morikawa as he plays from the penultimate pairing on Saturday, but if you were hesitant on JT, the +3300 for him on DraftKings is still an attractive buy. I am going to highlight some other names heading into Moving Day, but make no mistake, these two are still the ones that stand out the most.
If I was going to take anyone at the top to hold strong and stay in contention throughout the weekend, it would be Smith. We found out after Thursday’s round that he had visited The Concession in the past when he came to Bradenton to escape a hurricane back home. Smith mentioned that he has found the course to really suit his eye, and that has showed in the first two rounds.
The Australian has gained strokes on the field in every category, while standing out as the fourth best in the field on approach. He gained 2.92 strokes with his irons on Friday as he posted a 6-under 66.
The books aren’t quite giving him the respect he deserves for his play through 36 as he’s listed at +900 to win on BetMGM behind four others, including two players who are currently behind him. I don’t love going this high before the weekend, but I think Smith is here to stay and the number may only shrink from here.
I nearly wrote Louis Oosthuizen up as a fade after Thursday’s round where he lost 1.37 strokes on approach and gained more than two and a half strokes on the field with his putter. Instead, he finds his way into my buy category after putting up another good round with the putter and finding his irons.
Oosty gained 1.45 strokes on the field tee to green on Friday, including nearly one and a half of those with his ball striking. His putter was again the star of the day, but there is obviously some comfort for him on these greens that I can’t ignore heading to the weekend. Oosthuizen is listed at a solid +4000 to win on BetMGM heading into Moving Day, and he is one player who I expect to be able to avoid the big numbers this weekend.
There are certain players I just want to see signs of life in certain aspects of their game and it will automatically turn me on to them. Jason Day is one of those players as his stats never stick out over an extended timeframe, but when I see him flash 2.85 strokes gained ball striking in a round like Friday, it grabs my attention.
Day shot a 4-under 70 on Friday to climb inside the Top 20, despite losing strokes with the best club in his bag. His putter simply wasn’t what it usually is for the Australian, but that actually has me bullish on his prospects of climbing up the leaderboard this weekend. It’s a longshot to expect Day to get into winning contention from seven shots back, as reflected by his +15000 odds on DraftKings, as 16 top-flight players are ahead of him. I will, however, look to roster plenty of him in DFS, and like the +450 available for Day to sneak into the Top 10 by Sunday evening.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
The strokes-gained fade at the top of the leaderboard for Round 3 is definitely Matthew Fitzpatrick, as he lost strokes to the field on approach on Friday. My concern is that he is one of the better putters in the world and he’s typically a solid ball striker. I’m going to trust what the numbers are telling me, but honestly I don’t love it.
Fitzpatrick actually lost shots to the field tee to green on Friday, so it wasn’t just his iron play that was out of sorts. He also struggled around the greens, but his 2.23 strokes gained with the flat stick kept him in the hunt with a 3-under 69.
The good thing about the Englishman showing some faults heading into the weekend is that he will be paired with someone else at the top of the leaderboard in Patrick Reed. Reed will provide a good matchup bet in their two-ball on Saturday, so I’ll be shopping for the best number there and looking to fade Fitzpatrick in DFS.
I’m going to make an early week double-down as Kevin Kisner once again defied what it takes to be successful at The Concession. He lost strokes on approach for a second straight day and still managed to shoot 3-under.
Kisner will get quite a bit of attention at his price in DFS on Saturday, but I’ll be back in on the fade. He only hit 10 of his 18 greens in regulation during the second round, further highlighting his approach-play issues. Similar to Fitzpatrick, he will now get paired with someone else at the top of the leaderboard in Oosthuizen, providing some good matchup value for the South African.
I let it slide on Thursday when I saw Scottie Scheffler lingering around the lead groups despite a lackluster approach game, but two days in a row has me putting in the fade.
Scheffler lost strokes to the field both ball striking and tee to green on Friday, but still managed to scrape out a 2-under round. He made it happen mostly on the greens as he gained 1.68 shots on the field with his putting to maintain his place inside the top 15.
I don’t see how he can sustain this spot on the leaderboard with these issues with his irons this weekend. The course will continue to get tougher as they place pins in tighter locations, not allowing for the misses he has been making to start the week. I’m out on Scottie heading into Saturday.