Gdula's Golf Simulations: Waste Management Phoenix Open

What do thousands of simulations have to say about this week's PGA event at TPC Scottsdale?

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, and the Korn Ferry 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 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Win Odds

Golfer Wins FanDuel
Golfer Wins FanDuel
Jon Rahm 12.3% +650 Justin Thomas 8.7% +850
Xander Schauffele 6.2% +1800 Hideki Matsuyama 6.0% +1600
Rickie Fowler 3.7% +1600 Webb Simpson 3.4% +1400
Gary Woodland 2.9% +2900 Bryson DeChambeau 2.4% +2600
Tony Finau 2.2% +2900 Matt Kuchar 1.9% +2900
Collin Morikawa 1.9% +2900 Sungjae Im 1.9% +3300
Billy Horschel 1.8% +8000 Scottie Scheffler 1.6% +5000
Brandt Snedeker 1.5% +3300 Jordan Spieth 1.5% +5000
Vaughn Taylor 1.4% +9000 Byeong Hun An 1.4% +6500
Jason Kokrak 1.2% +6500 Viktor Hovland 1.1% +4200
Cameron Smith 1.1% +5500 Ryan Moore 1.1% +5000
Keegan Bradley 1.0% +7000 Max Homa 1.0% +12000
Matthew Wolff 1.0% +5000 Corey Conners 1.0% +6500
Lanto Griffin 0.9% +10000 Ryan Palmer 0.9% +5500
JT Poston 0.9% +6500 Chez Reavie 0.9% +6000
Andrew Putnam 0.9% +8000 Kevin Na 0.8% +7000
Bubba Watson 0.8% +2600 Adam Hadwin 0.6% +10000
Sung Kang 0.6% +12000 J.B. Holmes 0.6% +8000

It's not surprise that Jon Rahm (+650 on FanDuel Sportsbook) is the favorite here, and he isn't that far overpriced based on his implied win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The same can be said for Justin Thomas (+850). The actual value isn't there, but they aren't the worst places to start your card.

Personally, I'm drawn to starting it a bit lower and getting access to a greater quantity of realistic winners in a deep field. Xander Schauffele (+1800) and Hideki Matsuyama (+1600) both show positive expected value based on the win simulations. Hideki has won here twice, and Schauffele has finished 10th an 17th at TPC Scottsdale in two tries.

Other deeper plays who are intriguing from a pure expected value standpoint are Scottie Scheffler (+5000), Vaughn Taylor (+9000), Byeong-Hun An (+6000), Jason Kokrak (+6500), and Lanto Griffin (+10000). Despite his win sims not showing value, I'm looking long at Adam Hadwin (+8000) as one of the few long shots to feel somewhat confident with.