Play on the course has been completely overwhelmed by all that has happened with it this week, as the new golf league that launched it in London seemed to overshadow coverage of the RBC Canadian Open on Thursday – it even led to a statement by Commissioner Jay Monahan.
The golf continued and St. George’s Golf and Country Club turned out to be a wonderful venue for the PGA Tour and players really took advantage of it early on.
Matt Fitzpatrick took an early lead with four birdies in his first five holes. He would add a few more before dropping a shot on his home stretch to end the day with a 6-under 64. It wasn’t the best run of the day, however, as Wyndham Clark would overtake the Englishman with a bogey-free 63. Several big names lurk right behind these two as Rory McIlroy and Tony Finau lead a group that opened with 4 Under 66s.
Forty-three players shot under par rounds to open the week, keeping things fairly bunched up for the second round. Even with so many under par players that day, the overall scoring average was better than a stroke and a half over par. Although the gaps didn’t show an advantage, the morning saw the lowest score available and I’ll have an eye on some of those early tee times before Friday.
Shots gained Explanation
Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans much more detail about how a golfer really played by measuring each shot against the rest of the field.
Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates the average number of shots it takes for a player to put the ball in the hole, regardless of distance and situation. If a player beats these averages, he earns strokes on the field.
Every golf situation is different. The strokes gained measure the performance of the players in relation to the situation.
In this article, we’ll cover a variety of shots gained metrics:
- Strokes won: off the tee
- Strokes won: Approach
- Strokes won: Around the green
- Strokes gained: Putting
- Strokes won: Ball strike (i.e. off the tee + approach)
- Shots won: Tee-to-Green (i.e. Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)
In general, SG: Ball-Striking and SG: Tee-to-Green are the most stable over the long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.
You can often find advantages for live betting by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but simply not knocking down putts. Likewise, players with high SG: put numbers may regress in the future.
3 golfers to buy in round 2
If you ask me who I most enjoy being able to face at the weekend, my answer is definitely Sam Burns. However, I don’t like the odds in front of us, as he now gets the well-deserved top tier treatment with short odds for the second round. Burns is listed at +1200 in the second round despite his four stroke deficit. . With him starting on the easiest hole on the course, this might be one of the best numbers we see on him this week.
Burns shot a 3-under 67 to start his week at St. George’s and he held steady throughout his sack. He won shots in every metric on Thursday, which led to more than four shots won from tee to green. Everything he did was solid to open his RBC Canadian Open and I expect him to continue his momentum on Friday morning.
Alex Smalley is a name I have had my eye on throughout this year and he has shown some flashes of having the game to contend with. He did it again to start this tournament as he won almost five strokes with his striking ball on Thursday. He was also balanced between the start and the approach on his 67 bogey-free lap. I think this could be a tournament where we see a surprise name come out on top and at +6600 on BetMGM before round 2, I’d be willing to take a little flier on the former Duke grad.
If I go lower on the board, it will be for a player who I know can go down at any turn. Sebastian Munoz certainly has that ability as he’s often one of the guys we see near the top after the early laps. He played from the afternoon wave on Thursday and managed to scratch a 69.
The Colombian plays early on Friday and although he stumbled a bit to open the week, he is a player I expect to be ready to score in the second round. He struggled to score on the final nine holes, but he closed out the set earning shots on the field with his final three shots on approach. I will expect him to carry that momentum into round two and if he can take advantage of the two par 5s he has at the start of his round, he can move up the ranks quickly.
3 golfers to disappear in round 2
Wyndham Clark is not a name I expected to see at the top of the rankings to start this week. He’s someone who’s been off the tee for a long time and usually sets up a bit better for big runs. He clearly had it all Thursday, especially on the greens, where he had 3.89 shots from the field.
There’s really nothing for Clark to break through in the first round, but my fade is on his ability to stay on the top page of the leaderboard over the next few days. He hasn’t finished in the top 20 since his first event of 2022, back at AmEx in January. I expect his drift in the rankings to start on Friday as he has the uncomfortable feeling of an overnight lead and a long day to think about it before starting again in the afternoon.
There aren’t many that stand out for our traditional fade points, as almost everyone near the top of the leaderboard had solid ball striking and in overall game from tee to green. When I get closer to the irons, I see that approach will be the key category and that brings me to my Charley Hoffman fade.
Hoffman is the only player in the top 25 to lose shots on the field on approach. He didn’t do it with a single bad swing either. It was a fairly steady problem throughout the round and he only gained shots on seven of his 18 approaches. He had two iron shots that gained better than 0.8 hits from the field, making his overall numbers better than they were overall. I will continue to fade Hoffman this week until he can show more consistency throughout the round, especially for a player who has missed seven of his last eight cuts.
Justin Rose had the ugliest day, approach-wise, of the players who finished their rounds under par. He was fifth worst in the whole field with his irons, but when you earn 3.28 shots on the greens, that can still translate to a solid opening score.
We’ve seen Rose pull those numbers together at times in his career and even recently, but that’s rarely sustainable over a full tournament. I’m going to take my chances that he can’t hold this with the short game alone and, until the irons come back, he’ll hold onto the fade list.