Round 3 Masters best bets: Our top futures wagers

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After a windy second round at Augusta National, 36 holes are in the books for the 2022 Masters and the No. 1 player in the world has played to his ranking. Scottie Scheffler carries a five-stroke lead into Saturday at 8-under (69-67). As if the leaderboard was not indicative enough of Scheffler's superlative performance, we can go inside the numbers to give even more credence to what a five-shot lead in a major championship looks like:

Scottie Scheffler

1st SG: Tee To Green (+ 4.26)

3rd Greens In Regulation (75%; 27/36 greens hit)

4th SG: Off The Tee (+ 1.44)

5th SG: Putting (+ 1.95)

5th SG: Around The Green (+ 1.44)

6th (tie) Driving Accuracy (82.1%; 23/28 fairways hit)

10th Driving Distance (298.8 yards)

12th SG: Approach (+ 1.40)

First, we must make the decision of whether we should oppose Scheffler in his attempt to nab his first major. If your answer is no, I can’t blame you. There are a couple of historical trends (as pointed out by Justin Ray -- Head of Content at the Twenty First Group -- @JustinRayGolf on the Twitter machine) on Scheffler's side here:

  • Scheffler tied the biggest 36-hole lead in Masters history at five strokes and that has happened only five times in tournament history; four of those five went on to victory (Harry Cooper was the lone exception in 1936). 
  • The only two players to make their first start as OWGR No. 1 at The Masters were Ian Woosnam in 1991 (won) and Scheffler in 2022 (five-shot lead). 
  • The last player to have at least a five-shot lead at any men's major through 36 holes and not go on to win was Bobby Clampett at the 1982 Open (led by 5, finished T-10).

However, if we are going to take on the leader, there are a couple players with very good cases. 

I personally still have a couple pre-tournament contenders still live with Shane Lowry (-3; T-2nd), Joaquin Niemann and Justin Thomas (both -1; T-10th). 

Looking at the contenders behind Scheffler, I will eliminate his fellow participant in Saturday's final pairing as 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel just made his first cut anywhere in 2022 here at the Masters. Also joining Schwartzel at -3 is Sungjae Im, the 2020 Masters co-runner up, who has lived off his putter by and large for the first two rounds. Putting typically has the most variance from round to round in the game of golf. Defending Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama is also part of the group of four players at -3. He has been battling some neck and back injuries, which were the reason for his withdrawing from the Valero Texas Open last week, and that certainly is a cause for concern this weekend.

The two most attractive in-play futures options are 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson (12-1) and 2020 Masters co-runner up Cameron Smith (14-1). 

DJ ranks sixth through the first two rounds for Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green and has played disciplined and smart golf. He admittedly has struggled with his driver off the tee and hasn’t been able to hit his usual power fade with that club. However, he has felt comfortable with his other clubs in the bag, especially the 3-wood, and is rightfully eschewing the use of the driver.

Smith gained 5.5 strokes with his irons on approach on Thursday, which was over 2.5 strokes better than anyone else in the field. He regressed slightly on Friday but is still almost a shot and a half better than anyone in the field on approach. The best club in his bag, the putter, has yet to fire. Smith, who won THE PLAYERS Championship last month, ranks third on the PGA Tour for Strokes Gained: Putting and looks like he’s to have a few drop over the weekend. 

Here are some statistical categories through the first two rounds that can assist in finding some value for either outrights, props, or matchups going into the weekend:

SG Putting (Rounds 1 and 2)

1. Bezuidenhout 2.71

2. Willett 2.49

3. Im 2.15

4. MW Lee 2.04

5. Scheffler 1.95

6. SW Kim 1.79

7. Westwood 1.60

8. Spaun 1.30

9. Na 1.19

10. Hovland 1.09

11. Schwartzel 1.09

12. Varner III 1.07

13. Swafford 1.05

14. Lowry 1.04

15. Thomas 0.74

SG Around The Green (Rounds 1 and 2)

1. Conners 2.35

2. Matsuyama 2.23

3. D. Johnson 1.90

4. Leishman 1.61

5. Scheffler 1.44

6. Lowry 1.2

7. Fitzpatrick 1.2

8. Simpson 1.19

9. Kokrak 1.16

10. Hatton 1.06

11. Hoge 0.95

12. Morikawa 0.93

13. Finau 0.86

14. Straka 0.86

15. McIlroy 0.76

16. Rahm 0.73

SG Approach (Rounds 1 and 2)

1. Smith 4.47

2. Higgs 2.92

3. Niemann 2.50

4. Garcia 2.45

5. Hatton 2.37

6. Na 1.96

7. Champ 1.75

8. Schwartzel 1.75

9. Woods 1.71

10. Thomas 1.51

11. Kisner 1.51

12. Scheffler 1.40

13. Davis 1.25

14. D. Johnson 1.14

15. Cantlay 1.11

16. Morikawa 1.08

SG Off-The-Tee (Rounds 1 and 2)

1. Fitzpatrick 1.71

2. Lowry 1.49

3. Matsuyama 1.49

4. Scheffler 1.44

5. Homa 1.36

6. McIlroy 1.28

7. Finau 1.02

8. Garcia 0.97

9. Cantlay 0.96

10. Reed 0.91

11. Fleetwood 0.90

12. Watson 0.88

13. Zalatoris 0.83

14. Willett 0.78

15. Thomas/Hatton 0.65

SG Tee-To-Green (Rounds 1 and 2)

1. Scheffler 4.26

2. Hatton 4.07

3. Matsuyama 3.85

4. Smith 3.80

5. Conners 3.41

6. D. Johnson 2.95

7. McIlroy 2.71

8. Lowry 2.67

9. Fitzpatrick 2.63

10. Schwartzel 2.62

11. Morikawa 2.57

12. Zalatoris 2.48

13. Niemann 2.46

14. Cantlay 2.44

15. Higgs 2.41

Driving Distance (Rounds 1 and 2)

1. Champ 311.8

2. McIlroy 306

3. Niemann 305.2

4. Garcia 305.1

5. Fitzpatrick 303.7

6. Fleetwood 303.5

7. Thomas 301.5

8. Zalatoris 299.6

9. Scott 299.1

10. Scheffler 298.8

11. MW Lee 298.6

12. Im 298.1

13. Power 297.5

14. Matsuyama 297.4

 Driving Accuracy (R1&R2)

1. Glover 89.3% (25/28 fairways hit)

2. Spaun/Lowry/Kokrak/Homa 85.7 (24/28)

6. Na/Fitzpatrick/Henley/Scheffler/Matsuyama/Reed/Hoge 82.1 (23/28)

13. Schwartzel/Morikawa/Cantlay/Finau/Hovland/Simpson/MacIntyre/Watson 78.6 (22/28)

GIR (Rounds 1 and 2)

1. Hatton 83.3% (30/36 greens hit)

2. Garcia 80.6 (29/36)

3. Scheffler/Fitzpatrick/McIlroy 75 (27/36)

6. Finau/Higgs/Swafford/Cantlay/Schwartzel 72.2 (26/36)

11. Smith/Morikawa/Conners/Niemann/Henley/Champ/Fleetwood 69.4 (25/36)

Fairway Proximity to Hole (Rounds 1 and 2)

1. Smith 29’1”

2. McIlroy 30’11”

3. Straka 31’9”

4. Scott 32’1”

5. Hatton 33’1”

6. Schwartzel 34’7”

7. Swafford 34’10”

8. Na 34’10”

9. Morikawa 35’0”

10. Bezuidenhout 35’1”

11. Kisner 35’3”

12. Homa 35’6”

13. Horschel 36’2”

Scrambling (Rounds 1 and 2)

1. Straka 78.6% (11/14 up and downs)

2. Hatton 77.8 (7/9)

3. Scheffler 75 (12/16)

4. Matsuyama 73.7 (14/19)

5. Zalatoris 73.7 (14/19)

6. SW Kim 71.4 (15/21)

7. D. Johnson 70 (14/20)

8. Thomas 69.6 (16/23)

9. Schwartzel 69.2 (9/13)

10. Lowry/Westwood 68.4 (13/19)

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