Workday Charity Open Round 2 Betting Tips: Using Strokes Gained to Find an Edge

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Photo credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Morikawa

Usually at the bottom of the leaderboard are no-names, but there are a couple popular guys this week in Bubba Watson (+7), Joel Dahmen (+7), Benny An (+4) and for a while there Brooks Koepka, who managed to finished just +2.

The other side of the leaderboard is pretty loaded, though, too. Youngster Collin Morikawa has rebounded — at least for a round — in a big way following his first career missed cut and sits in sole first place at 7-under.

Eyeing him are Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele and others. It was a weird day, but it looks like we’re set up for another fun weekend of golf. Let’s dive into the field.

But first, a quick explanation on Strokes Gained data and what it means for golf handicapping.

(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

I’ve been all over Morikawa since the COVID-19 return of golf, and I have a 33-1 ticket on him this week. And man, did he not disappoint.

I truly believe Morikawa might have the best iron play in the entire world right now. Like if aliens came to Earth and in order to save the planet we needed a guy to stick it within five feet from 160 out … I just might choose Collin. He’s that freaking good.

And he was a solid play this week: The course sets up for ball-strikers, of which he’s one of the best, and the slow greens at Muirfield ahead of the Memorial could minimize his weakness, which is definitely his putting. Whether he overperformed today or that narrative rang true will be determined moving forward, but I’ll always buy iron play this good.

My other two buys are similar stories with one striking difference: Both Patrick Reed and Louis Oosthuizen have great iron play when they’re on, but they’re also among the world’s best putters. And today, that particular stick just wasn’t working for them: They both lost strokes on the green.

I wouldn’t imagine that either of those guys would lose strokes with the putter over the course of four days, so if their ball-striking is going to be this good — among the top-four in the field with Morikawa — they’re pretty nice buys.

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2

In this section, I usually highlight guys who are especially hot with their putter — which is more random than other parts of a golfer’s game — but not great around the course, especially with approach shots and general ball-striking.

Ian Poulter, Sam Burns and Kevin Streelman can all get hot striking the ball — especially Poulter and Streelman — but they also ran really hot with the putter today.

To be fair, Poulter is a very good putter in general, so while he may not gain four strokes a day over the next three days with the short stick, he should remain towards the top of the board in that regard. Still, the approach wasn’t great, so it’s hard to see him truly contend.

And in the case of Burns and Streelman, they’re pretty average putters. So when you combine regression there with poor ball-striking Thursday … sure, they could turn the latter part around, but it’s hard to bet on that given that it’s one of the more stable metrics in golf.

But note that one round is pretty random, which means it’s hard to really buy numbers for any player. I always try to regress those to the long-term form — which is why I still like Morikawa. His approach game was on fire, but he’s also maybe the best in the world at that.

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

Strokes Gained Data for Every Player in Round 1

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

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