Cameron Young hit the ground running from the first tee time on Thursday morning, and he never took his foot off the gas. The former Wake Forrest Demon Deacon fired an 8-under 63 at Harbor Town to take a two-shot lead into Friday’s second round.
It wasn’t the lowest round of the season though for Young as he has shown an ability to take it low several times this year, including a 62 back at the Genesis Invitational where he finished runner-up to Joaquin Niemann. There is still a long way to go, but he is certainly positioned for another top finish, and Niemann will be one of his pursuers di lui after his 6-under 65 on Thursday.
The Chilean started slow with a couple of bogeys in his first four holes but surrounded them with birdies and really turned it on across the back nine. He joined other big names from the morning wave like Patrick Cantlay and Shane Lowry near the top but will get the quieter weather with an early tee time on Friday.
Winds on Thursday played a part as the afternoon wave saw more difficult conditions, especially as the day wore on. It looks as though it could be worse, and more notably coming from an entirely different direction on Friday, but it may start early. We’ll have to keep an eye on it as the night wears on, and for now, I’m leaning toward the morning wave heading into the betting markets for Round 2.
Strokes Gained Explanation
Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer has truly played 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 are just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.
3 Golfers to Buy in Round 2
Patton Kizzire was a popular name a couple of weeks ago at the Valero, and his missed cut seems to have turned some away. The course fit seems to be much better this week though as he thrives on shorter courses that can take his balky driver out of his hands off the tee.
He certainly looked more comfortable on Thursday at Harbor Town as he put together a 4-under opening round. He gained 2.96 shots on approach in the opening round and gained 3.27 shots tee-to-green. He is a player who can get hot with the putter, and even in a strong round, he didn’t quite do that.
If Kizzire can get the flat stick going this weekend, he is someone who has won on TOUR and will have staying power throughout. He’s +4500 on DraftKings and will head out early on Friday with a chance to move up the board.
Russell Henley was a pre-tournament bet for me this week, and I still like him heading into the second round. His numbers di lui show that he lost strokes to the field on approach, but it’s his trend di lui that has me encouraged by him on Friday.
Henley struggled in his opening nine as he couldn’t find his rhythm on approach and lost strokes to the field in the metric in five of his first seven holes. The biggest mistake was at the Par 3 14th when he dunked his tee shot in the water.
The former Georgia Bulldog turedn things around from there as he gained shots on the field across seven of his final eight approaches and shot a bogey-free 33 in his final nine. Henley will go into Friday just five shots back of the lead and still in in the +3500 range on DraftKings.
One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Matthew Fitzpatrick is his outstanding putting ability. Unfortunately, the flat stick is the club that has been failing him the most over the last few weeks and certainly on Thursday at Harbor Town.
Fitzpatrick lost better than two shots to the field on the greens in his opening round, which really put a damper on a day where he gained more than two shots ball striking. He was dialed in both off the tee and on approach but simply couldn’t capitalize on those opportunities.
We know he’s typically one of the best putters in the world, and it all sets up for a nice bounce back and potential run at a low round. All of this makes for a prototypical buy going into the second round at the RBC Heritage where we have all of the factors working on our favor, including the preferred morning tee time. I will take a stab on him in all markets going into Friday all the way up to the win at +5000 on BetMGM.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2
We found a prototypical buy just above with Matt Fitzpatrick, and we have the same on the fade side with Sepp Straka. I don’t have quite the same conviction with the Austrian as I wouldn’t be surprised to see him find his approach game tomorrow, but he was heavily reliant on his short game di lui Thursday.
Straka chipped in twice and gained better than four and a half shots on and around the greens in the first round. He posted a 5-under day while losing strokes to the field in both categories of his ball striking.
He won’t be able to lean that much on his short game if he wants to stay in contention this week as an elite approach game will be required to be in the mix through the next 54 holes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn it around, but for now we have to fade him on what we saw today.
Defending RBC Heritage Champion Stewart Cink picked up mostly where he left off in the opening round on Thursday as he put together a solid round and gained better than two shots tee to green. His numbers however are skewed by a 150-yard hole out on the Par 4 10th for eagle. He gained 1.92 shots on the field with that one swing, which really tells us that he lost strokes to the field with his irons across the other 17 holes.
Cink hasn’t been in the same form that saw him win twice on TOUR last year, and it has resulted in missed cuts across three of his last four tournaments. He has now posted a number that looks to have a bit of smoke and mirrors to it with his improbable hole out di lui, which will have me fading the defending champ into Round 2.
I’ll put in another quick fade on an older player as Bill Haas also put together a 4-under round to start the week. He did most of his work di lui while relying on a hot putter that gained two and a half strokes on the field despite him losing a half shot with his irons. Haas has just one Top 25 finish to his name di lui since June. I’d expect this first round to be more of a blip on the radar as the week goes forward.