We can only hope for as wild of a finish on Sunday as there was in Round 3 on Saturday afternoon.
Daniel Berger was cruising along in the lead most of the day, before a series of unfortunate events down the stretch changed everything heading into the final round.
First was a 160-yard holeout eagle by Jordan Spieth on the 16th hole, which tied him for the lead with Berger the lead. Then Berger hit it out of bounds off the tee on 18, leading to a double bogey and a two-shot lead for Spieth after 54 holes.
Berger’s gaff on the final hole on Saturday dropped him out of the final group, leaving Spieth to play with Nate Lashely and Tom Hoge. The latter two actually tied for the rounds of the day with matching 4-under 68s. They are joined by Patrick Cantlay, Russell Knox and Berger in the group at 11-under, two shots back of Jordan’s lead.
Spieth clearly had some nerves and discomfort back in the final group last week in Phoenix, when arguably all of the pressure was on Xander Schauffele. It will be interesting to see how he comes out of the gates on Sunday as the solo leader, with all of the attention.
Let’s take a look at the strokes gained data from the third round and see who stands out.
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 4
I don’t feel great about going against Spieth in this spot, but I am going to fade the final group and plant my flag with Patrick Cantlay. I was on him to start Round 3, and he started off great with an eagle at the second hole but never got anything going after that.
We now get a second shot at him, mostly at the same odds as he’s +380 to win on FanDuel. Cantlay has been the most consistent player through 36 holes at Pebble Beach and has really shown dominance with his ball striking. He gained more than fives strokes on the field in that category on Saturday but couldn’t roll in a putt.
The former UCLA Bruin was the sixth worst in the field putting in Round 3, as he lost 2.55 strokes on the greens. He has a chance to come out and make a statement in those first two holes at Pebble Beach, both of which you can gain strokes on, and really put the pressure on Spieth. I’m doubling down on Cantlay as the winner come Sunday evening.
If I can double down on Cantlay, then I can and will reverse course on Paul Casey. He did what I was afraid of on Saturday as instead of fading, he actually found his ball striking, specifically with his irons. His only real falter was a double bogey on the par-3 5th where he left a chip in the rough, then missed a short putt to escape with bogey.
Casey gained more than a stroke on approach against the field in the third round, and he’ll come into Sunday looking to go low for the win. I’ll swing back to buy a player who just won two weeks ago in Dubai, and ranks third in greens hit this week.
The +1400 on FanDuel was a tad shorter than I was hoping to get, but I won’t complain if Casey can come through.
|[Bet Paul Casey now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]|
Since I am fading Spieth, I will actually look at the players at 11-under as part of the lead group. Anyone that can catch up to them is in play to be in contention down the stretch, under the assumption Jordan falters.
I believe it keeps those at 9-under in play, and my next buy is in that range with Max Homa.
Homa has been consistent this week, with 2-4-under rounds each day, with the best coming on Saturday at Pebble Beach. He gained 1.45 strokes with his irons in the third round, continuing the great approach play he showed on Friday.
We have seen Homa in contention in recent weeks, but this time he gets the chance to try to post a number ahead of the lead groups. He’s worth a shot at +4100 on FanDuel, but I will mostly target him for placement odds and DFS Showdown on Sunday.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4
Last week I bought Spieth in this spot, and now I’m going the other direction. I clearly don’t know what to think about him just yet, but I feel pretty comfortable there won’t be a runaway on Sunday at Pebble Beach.
Spieth has shown time and again during this brief run of success that his old faults will still flash through. Those issues flashed on the back nine Saturday as he bogeyed three of his first five holes on the way in before making up for it with an eagle holeout on the 16th. It was far from perfect in the third round for Jordan, though his data will show it was a good day ball striking and more about putting issues.
If we were to remove the holeout, those approach numbers would look worse. I’ll bank on what we’ve seen over the last three years, rather than the last two weeks on Sunday and let Spieth prove to me his back and able to win.
My second fade of the final round also comes from the final group, with Nate Lashley. He’s the winningest player in the group over the last three years, having won the 2019 Rocket Mortgage, but he hasn’t done much since.
Lashley’s appearance in this spot on Sunday is a big surprise since his 17th-place finish last week at the Waste Management was just his second top-20 in the last 12 months. He now finds himself in a spot to contend for a win but looking down the board, I’d prefer nearly everyone else below Lashley.
Lashely shot a 4-under 68 in Round 3, but his approach play began to waiver. He was essentially field average with his irons on Saturday, and I just don’t see him holding up to come through on Sunday.
I put a bonus bet in on Tom Hoge after the second round on Friday and am happy to be holding a +12500 ticket for him to win as well as some good odds for a top-10 and top-5. I hope he comes through with the win, but the data shows it’s likely to go the other direction so he is my third fade in the final threesome.
Hoge posted one of the best rounds of the day with a 4-under 68 on Saturday, and while there were some great shots early, he faded when at the top of the leaderboard down the back stretch. He essentially played to field average from a ball striking perspective, and need a sharp game on and around the greens to post such a good round.
It will be a different and difficult spot for Hoge on Sunday looking for his first TOUR win from the final group at Pebble Beach. His demeanor seemed to change down the back nine on Saturday, which makes me concerned he’ll be able to dial it in to win in the final round.
Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 4