The second round of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree was a different perspective of Congaree Golf Club than the opening 18 holes. The field averaged nearly two strokes over par on the day, more than a shot worse than the opening round as the course dried out and required more precision.
Chesson Hadley was one of the few that didn’t seem to notice the change in course conditions as he followed his opening round 65 with a 5-under 66. He carries a two shot lead into the weekend over World No. 1 Dustin Johnson who shot a 3-under 68. Only 21 year-old Tain Lee is within less than three shots of DJ, as he had eight birdies through 15 holes in his second round before play was stopped for inclement weather.
Beyond Lee are three players at 6-under, five shots behind Hadley. The top two or three have really separated themselves heading into moving day, but only DJ has much experience in this position. This scenario creates an interesting odds situation as DJ is the top player in the odds market despite his two-shot deficit.
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 main buy I made yesterday was on Dustin Johnson as I saw this as an event he would fairly comfortably win. I still have those same feelings as his odds have dropped to even money despite his two-shot deficit.
DJ was even with Hadley heading into his final hole on Friday before an errant tee shot required a drop, leading to a double-bogey six on the Par 4 18th. He still ranked 14th on the round with his tee-to-green play, and finished sixth on the day in strokes gained approach. I still see DJ as the winner of this event, and frankly, I don’t think it will be much of a sweat on Sunday evening.
If you want to buy into some of the chasers, I would look at the group at 6-under. One of the most consistent players through two rounds has been Georgia Bulldog, Harris English.
English is averaging more than two strokes gained on the field with his ball-striking through two rounds and two more with his putter. That pairing is certainly a lethal combination on any week, but especially on the firm and fast conditions at Congaree. If I had to pick a winner that wasn’t DJ, Harris English would be the first name for me this weekend.
While I pump up the leaders on the day, no player was better tee to green on Friday than Patrick Rodgers. He gained more than six shots on the field in that category and nearly three of those strokes came ball-striking.
Rodgers was able to put together a really solid round, but only had a 1-under 70 to show for it. He was simply unable to get the ball in the hole on Friday as he gave more than three shots back to the field on the greens. While he’s not a fantastic putter, he certainly isn’t that bad, as he ranks 90th on TOUR in the category this season. I fully expect him to bounce back on the greens this weekend and be in position to move up from his current position in a tie for 10th.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
My first fade of the weekend is on the leader Chesson Hadley. Look, I love Bojangles as much as anyone, but there is just no way I see their sponsor player maintaining his spot on the leaderboard in a weekend pairing with Dustin Johnson.
This week is the first made cut for Hadley in his last five tournaments, and his only top 15 came in an alternate field event in Puntacana back in March. He does have a win on his resume on TOUR, but that was in 2014, and he’s been battling for status since that time.
While his round on Friday was certainly impressive, it came together as a result of more than four strokes gained with his putter. He seemed to make everything he looked at in the second round, but as the pressure mounts in a final pairing with the World No. 1, I don’t see him being able to sustain that flat stick. I’ll put my fade in early on Hadley as I expect he may struggle this weekend at the Palmetto Championship.
I don’t mean to be so cynical, but these fades require a bit of that mindset, and Tain Lee is my next target. He is a virtual unknown on TOUR, as this is just the third event he’s played in his career. In my research on him, I was surprised to learn he had made the cut in both previous events, at the Farmers and Valero respectively.
He clearly has some talent the way he has played to start his career, but this weekend will be a completely different environment for the young Maryland native. Lee was the best player in the field on approach on Friday, but my fade isn’t about the stats, it’s more about the pressure of a late weekend tee time on the PGA TOUR.
The final fade for me heading into the weekend at Congaree is with Ron Oppenheim. This is a more traditional fade as he lost strokes to the field on approach on Friday, but made up for it with a hot putter.
Oppenheim ranks 112th on TOUR with his putter this season, but gained 2.79 strokes on the greens in the second round. He was able to mask his ball-striking issues with a sharp short game, leading to a solid 3-under 68. I don’t think he will be able to sustain that position this weekend, which will have him dropping from his current spot inside of the top 10 of the leaderboard.