Earlier this week, I outlined how we can look for strong edges after Round 1 of a given PGA tournament using strokes gained statistics with a little basic math. While we still don't have a full round of strokes gained data to dissect and analyze from Round 1 at East Lake just yet, I still think there is some strong "unused" data from last week's BMW Championship that we can utilize and apply towards making a few first round matchup wagers today. Specifically, I'm going to be focusing on two key strokes gained metrics for today that were also key metrics in determining success last weekend at the BMW Championship.
Those two statistics will be Strokes Gained Approach & Strokes Gained Tee To Green. Using our basic formula, which I will summarize again below, we will be able to determine our best buys and fades for Round 1 of the TOUR Championship. We will also be able to now see how tracking Round 4 relevant statistics can possibly apply to Round 1 of a following tournament. Without further adieu, let's dive into last week's Round 4 data. Also, just to clarify, I will only be highlighting golfers below who played last week AND will be playing this week at East Lake. A few golfers who qualified as "buys" based off their Round 4 performance last Sunday, such as Danny Lee and Rick Taylor, failed to qualify for the TOUR Championship.
Remember, our thresholds for "buy" candidates each round will be those with a "+3" score or higher. Our candidates for fades will be those with a "-3" score or lower. If two buys or two fades are facing each other, we will pass. The three main buys I've targeted below are Sebastian Munoz, Ryan Palmer and John Rahm. The fades are Abraham Ancer, Victor Hovland, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy and Mackenzie Hughes:
Strokes Gained Tee To Green (Buys)
- Sebastian Munoz - SG Tee To Green (3.79) - (-2.47) SG Putting = +6.26
- Ryan Palmer - SG Tee To Green (3.67) - (-0.35) SG Putting = +4.02
- John Rahm - SG Tee To Green (4.68) - (1.64) SG Putting = +3.04
- Sebastian Munoz - SG Approach (1.81) - (-2.47) SG Putting = +4.28
- Ryan Palmer - SG Approach (2.92) - (-0.35) SG Putting = +3.27
Strokes Gained Tee To Green (Fades)
- Abraham Ancer - SG Tee to Green (-3.93) - (1.25) SG Putting = -5.18
- Victor Hovland - SG Tee To Green (-2.57) - (1.89) SG Putting = -4.46
- Rory McIlroy - SG Tee To Green (-2.27) - (1.58) SG Putting = -3.85
- Mackenzie Hughes - SG Tee To Green (-1.89) - (1.21) SG Putting = -3.10
- Patrick Reed - SG Tee To Green (-2.37) - (0.69) SG Putting = -3.06
Strokes Gained Approach (Fades)
One interesting note from our "buys" is that Sebastian Munoz and Ryan Palmer each passed our "+3" threshold in strokes gained approach AND in strokes gained tee to green stats. When we see a specific golfer qualify as a "buy" in multiple stat categories, that only makes me feel stronger about the play in a head-to-head matchup for the following round. Munoz and Palmer each gained more than 3.5 strokes tee to green, yet they were also unlucky with their putting, especially Munoz, who lost nearly 2.5 strokes there. Basic math will say that more often that not, Munoz's putting will regress positively back towards the pack. Munoz was a tad stronger in strokes gained tee to green (+3.79) than Palmer from Round 4 last weekend, but Palmer was clearly on top of his game and better than Munoz with his strokes gained on approach (+2.92). Besides John Rahm, who checks in with a score of +4.04 due to his ridiculous tee to green stats, no other golfer playing this weekend at the TOUR Championship passed our +3 threshold using strokes gained data from Round 4 of the BMW Championship. Danny Lee and Nick Taylor each passed both thresholds, just like Munoz and Palmer, but neither Lee nor Taylor is playing this weekend.
As for our fades, you will notice that everyone except for Mackenzie Hughes lost more than 2 strokes tee to green in Round 4 of the BMW Championship on Sunday. All of the fades, other than Patrick Reed, also gained more than one stroke putting. Again, the key here is targeting golfers with strong approach/tee to green play AND bad/unlucky putting as our buys. We are targeting golfers with poor approach/tee green stats AND good/lucky putting as our fades. Staying at the +3 threshold for buys and the -3 threshold for fades will keep us focused on picking the strongest head to head matchups based off the most relevant data. Remember, all we are doing is taking the strokes gained approach or tee to green number and subtracting it with the strokes gained putting number. We made our first list based on strokes gained approach minus strokes gained putting. The second list we made was based on strokes gained tee to green minus strokes gained putting. These two statistics each apply to both courses at the BMW Championship and at the TOUR Championship. Approach and tee to green will be key to any golfer's success at East Lake.
I did make two omissions from our buys list, which were Cameron Champ and Marc Leishman. Champ lost a ridiculous 4.56 strokes putting in Round 4 on Sunday, but at the same time his strokes gained approach and strokes gained tee to green were still less than +1 each. In this case, he isn't a strong buy candidate.
Leishman, on the other hand, lost 2.33 strokes putting, but again, his approach and tee to green numbers were nothing noteworthy. I'm looking for not JUST bad putting, but for also strong approach/T2G stats. So you don't want to just blindly do the math without considering both sets of numbers as we make our picks.
All in all, I was able to target six different Round 1 head-to-head matchups based off the buy and fade candidates that we have identified. I will list them here below, and I will also keep a running list all tournament long on this spreadsheet here. I'm going one flat unit on each matchup bet. If one of our buys is a dog, I'm splitting my unit in half between the ML and the +1/2 spread. If one of our fades is a favorite, I'm also splitting my unit in half on the dog, between the ML and the +1/2 spread. On to the Round 1 picks!
ROUND 1 MATCHUP BETS
- Munoz > Griffin --- (Munoz ML: 1 unit)
- Palmer > Na --- (Palmer ML: 0.5 unit and Palmer +1/2: 0.5 unit)
- Kisner > Ancer --- (Kisner ML: 1 unit)
- Xander > Reed --- (Xander ML: 1 unit)
- Todd > Rory --- (Todd ML: 0.5 unit and Todd +1/2: 0.5 unit)
- Rahm > Bryson --- (Rahm ML: 1 unit)
View all of our bets using this strokes gained matchups formula from the TOUR Championship, BMW Championship, Northern Trust Open and Wyndham championship - updated Google spreadsheet here.