Gdula's Golf Simulations: WGC-HSBC Champions

Rory McIlroy is a massive favorite this week, but is there betting value on him for the WGC-HSBC?

Volatility is the name of the game in golf, and picking winners isn't easy. With fields of 150-plus golfers sometimes being separated by how a putt or two falls each week, predicting golf can be absurdly tough.

We'll never be able to capture everything that goes into a golfer's expectations for a week, but we can try to account for that by simulating out the weekend and seeing what happens.

The Process

I'll keep it simple: I track weekly results from the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the Korn Ferry Tour, and the Japan Golf Tour.

Using a combination of the OWGR's field strength numbers and datagolf's field strength numbers, I adjust each golfer's score relative to the field. The ultimate goal is to place a score from the Waste Management Open, the BMW International Open, and the Knoxville Open on level playing fields. This adjusted strokes metric lets me see how golfers are performing across all tours.

Their adjusted stroke data is combined with their round-to-round variance to see how the field is likely to perform when playing the event out thousands of times.

Here are the results for the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Top Win Odds

GolferWinsFanDuel SportsbookGolferWinsFanDuel Sportsbook
Rory McIlroy9.9%+600Justin Rose4.6%+1600
Adam Scott4.3%+2700Hideki Matsuyama4.3%+1100
Paul Casey3.8%+2200Xander Schauffele3.7%+1400
Louis Oosthuizen3.0%+5000Shane Lowry3.0%+4200
Jordan Spieth2.8%+2900Tommy Fleetwood2.5%+2200
Billy Horschel2.2%+3400Patrick Reed2.1%+3100
Tony Finau1.8%+2200Byeong Hun An1.8%+3100
Sungjae Im1.7%+3100Jason Kokrak1.7%+8000
Chez Reavie1.7%+8000Matthew Fitzpatrick1.7%+4200
Andrew Putnam1.7%+6500Corey Conners1.6%+4200
Henrik Stenson1.5%+2700Ian Poulter1.5%+5500
Kevin Na1.5%+7000Charles Howell III1.4%+5000
Adam Hadwin1.4%+6500Keegan Bradley1.4%+7000
Rafa Cabrera Bello1.3%+5000Cameron Smith1.3%+3400
Francesco Molinari1.3%+4100Matt Wallace1.3%+3400
Erik van Rooyen1.2%+5000Danny Willett1.2%+5500
Chan Kim1.2%+21000Bernd Wiesberger1.2%+3100
Kevin Kisner1.2%+7000Ryo Ishikawa1.0%+15000

Rory McIlroy's status as a heavy favorite doesn't do enough to get me excited based on his price on FanDuel Sportsbook of +600. Favorites at these odds just don't entice me.

There's more value on Justin Rose (+1600) and Adam Scott (+2700), and they'd be the first place I look this week among the golfers with short odds. Xander Schauffele (+1400) can overpower the course but appears overvalued in his repeat attempt. Paul Casey (+2200) offers better value.

Louis Oosthuizen (+5000) and Shane Lowry (+4200) pop with positive expected value at their win odds. Lowry is coming off a 13th at the ZOZO Championship.

Chan Kim (+21000) and Ryo Ishikawa (+15000) should be treated more as top-20 plays than outrights in this field. Ishikawa started the ZOZO with a 68-68 but lost steam on the weekend. Kim finished 41st.