Palmetto Championship: Look to Hatton & Higgo

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Friday had a little bit of everything. Low scores, high scores, sweltering heat, and a downpour. The man who got the shortest end of the stick may have been J.T. Poston as he was caught in the heavy rain with no umbrella in sight. He and his caddie, Aaron Flener, agreed to forego the rain gear and it proved to be a brutal mistake. The rain added insult to injury as Poston ended up missing the cut.

Having better luck with both the rain and Congaree was world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. On Friday, he picked up right where he left off in Round 1. After making birdie on his first two holes of the day, Johnson reeled off eight consecutive pars. He would tack on four more birdies to get to 11-under, but a double-bogey six on the par-4 18th leaves Johnson two-strokes behind solo leader, Chesson Hadley.

Hadley was one of many players to shoot 6-under in the first-round. He followed it up with a round of 5-under 66 on Friday, thanks mostly to his trusty flat stick. Hadley led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting in the second-round and leads in the category through the first two days. Arguably more important has been Hadley's ball-striking resurgence, ranking inside the top-20 in both Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and SG: Approach. That will be the key for Hadley moving forward as he’ll need to continue to strike the ball well if he plans to hold off Johnson.

As for overnight leader Wes Roach, it was a day that he’d like to put in the rear-view mirror. After starting his first-round by going 5-under through his first six holes, the second round was the polar opposite. Starting at 7-under, Roach made bogey on four of his first five holes. He was never able to recover as Roach carded a round of 6-over 77 to sit at 1-under for the tournament.

The oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook have Johnson as the clear-cut favorite heading into the weekend. After touching the lead for a brief moment in the second-round, Johnson back pedaled, but will go into Round 3 sitting at +100 with 36-holes to go.

With some players finishing their second round late in the evening, Round 3 head-to-head matchups have yet to be posted. I’ll outline a couple players I like to progress up the leaderboard over the next couple of days and should be targeted in matchups. This is all dependent on who they are paired with, but any updates will be posted via Twitter.

Updated Odds to Win (via PointsBet):

+100: Dustin Johnson

+400: Chesson Hadley

+1300: Harris English

+2500: Erik van Rooyen

+2800: Pat Perez, Seamus Power

+3000: Garrick Higgo

+3300: Chez Reavie, Tyrrell Hatton

+4000: Doc Redman

+5000: Patrick Rodgers, Tain Lee, Wilco Nienaber

+6600: Jhonattan Vegas

Player to Target in the Third-Round (odds via PointsBet):

Garrick Higgo (+3000):

The young South African popped up on a lot of radars coming into the Palmetto Championship and for good reason. A two-time winner on the European Tour this season, Higgo has been one of the hottest players on the planet over the past couple of months. He carried that momentum into a made cut at the PGA Championship and looks prime to contend this week at Congaree.

Currently sitting in a tie for 10th at 5-under, Higgo has struck the ball beautifully through 36-holes. Amongst the field, he is 3rd in SG: Tee-to-Green, ranking 2nd in SG: Off-the-Tee, and 8th in SG: Approach. His score of 5-under could be much better if his putter chose to cooperate during the first two rounds. Typically, his strength, at least across the pond, Higgo is outside the top-90 in SG: Putting. With two rounds under his belt, I expect the 22-year-old to be able to figure out these slippery, Bermuda greens over the weekend.

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Tyrrell Hatton (+3300):

After admitting in his pre-tournament press conference that he may be rusty, Hatton opened the Palmetto Championship with an even-par 71. He appeared to shed the rust on Friday as Hatton looked like his normal, outspoken self. In the second round, Hatton posted five birdies against two bogeys for a 3-under 68. What Hatton failed to do was take advantage of the par-5s, something I expect to change over the weekend.

All four of his statistical categories improved in the second-round relative to Thursday. He ranks 13th in SG: Tee-to-Green, but only 91st in SG: Putting. I’m not so much interested in Hatton at +3300, being eight-strokes back, but he should prove to be a reliable matchup option. I see him shaking off some additional “rust” and continue to trend in the right direction, and hopefully more so on the greens.

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