Gdula's Golf Simulations: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Only a few studs are in the field this week's peculiar pro-am format. Where does the betting value lie?

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 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Win Odds

Golfer Wins FanDuel
Golfer Wins FanDuel
Dustin Johnson 9.4% +550 Patrick Cantlay 9.1% +1000
Paul Casey 4.8% +1600 Jason Day 4.0% +2000
Matthew Fitzpatrick 2.6% +2200 Brandt Snedeker 2.5% +2200
Viktor Hovland 2.1% +3100 Matt Kuchar 1.9% +2700
Rafa Cabrera Bello 1.7% +5000 Jordan Spieth 1.7% +3300
Kevin Kisner 1.7% +3700 Lucas Glover 1.7% +6500
Adam Hadwin 1.5% +6000 Russell Knox 1.5% +4000
Graeme McDowell 1.5% +3300 Phil Mickelson 1.5% +2700
Vaughn Taylor 1.4% +5500 Max Homa 1.3% +4800
Alexander Noren 1.3% +3700 Cameron Champ 1.2% +3400
Scott Piercy 1.2% +5500 Sung Kang 1.1% +9000
Cameron Tringale 1.1% +13000 Kevin Na 1.1% +6500
Jim Furyk 1.0% +6500 Chez Reavie 1.0% +6000
Keith Mitchell 0.9% +10000 J.B. Holmes 0.9% +5000
Lanto Griffin 0.9% +9000 Daniel Berger 0.8% +4200
Pat Perez 0.8% +9000 Xinjun Zhang 0.8% +9000
Aaron Wise 0.7% +10000 Nate Lashley 0.7% +8000
Kevin Streelman 0.7% +8000 Kiradech Aphibarnrat 0.7% +21000

The heavy favorite is Pebble Beach maven Dustin Johnson (+550 on FanDuel Sportsbook), which shouldn't surprise us. However, he's not a runaway, and Patrick Cantlay (+1000) won nearly as often and can be had at a much more appropriate price. Cantlay lacks the event form that Johnson has but has been every bit as good over the past calendar year -- if not better. Paul Casey (+1600) is priced appropriately but is not the worst place to start a betting card.

Value is hard to find in the soft-field, 60-golfer, 54-hole cut event. Rafael Cabrera-Bello (+5000) enters with lukewarm form but is priced well at an event where he has two straight top-26 finishes. Lucas Glover (+6500) and Adam Hadwin (+6000) are slight positive values.

Sung Kang (+9000) and Cameron Tringale (+13000) are longshots with some top-10 or top-20 appeal.

The overarching theme here is that we're probably best off with a favorite and then some longshots for outright winners, a trend that usually holds up at this event anyway. The expected value points us in that direction.