Gdula's Golf Simulations: The Honda Classic

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 Honda Classic.

Win Odds

Golfer Wins FanDuel
Golfer Wins FanDuel
Tommy Fleetwood 6.1% +1200 Gary Woodland 5.2% +2000
Rickie Fowler 5.0% +1200 Brooks Koepka 4.9% +1100
Justin Rose 4.7% +2000 Louis Oosthuizen 4.3% +2700
Billy Horschel 3.7% +2700 Shane Lowry 3.3% +3700
Byeong Hun An 3.2% +2900 Sungjae Im 2.6% +3100
Jason Kokrak 2.0% +5000 Vaughn Taylor 2.0% +9000
Erik van Rooyen 1.9% +3700 Viktor Hovland 1.8% +2700
Corey Conners 1.6% +4000 Joaquin Niemann 1.6% +4500
Jim Furyk 1.5% +9000 Ryan Palmer 1.4% +6500
Kevin Streelman 1.3% +5500 Harris English 1.3% +6000
Brian Harman 1.2% +10000 Rory Sabbatini 1.2% +10000
Ian Poulter 1.2% +6000 Russell Knox 1.0% +8000
Harold Varner III 1.0% +6500 Jhonattan Vegas 1.0% +6500
JT Poston 1.0% +5500 Daniel Berger 1.0% +2900
Matthew Wolff 0.9% +5500 Keith Mitchell 0.9% +6000
Wyndham Clark 0.8% +6500 Lucas Glover 0.8% +6500
Keegan Bradley 0.8% +8000 Tom Lewis 0.8% +10000
Lee Westwood 0.8% +6000 Sam Burns 0.8% +6500

Whew, buddy. Pricing is tight and accurate this week so far. It's a pretty decent field at the top with no real standout winners, no real heavy favorites. That's reflected in the opening odds.

Tommy Fleetwood (+1200 on FanDuel Sportsbook) is the favorite in the simulations, but it's a pretty clustered bunch at the top with he, Rickie Fowler (+1200), Brooks Koepka (+1100), Justin Rose (+2000), Gary Woodland (+2000), and Louis Oosthuizen (+2700).

Recent winners here have been between 5 and 13 under par at the difficult course and have been a mixture of favorites (Justin Thomas in 2018, Rickie Fowler in 2017, and Adam Scott in 2016) as well as long shots (Keith Mitchell last year, Padraig Harrington in 2015, and Russell Henley in 2014).

For that reason and for the fact that the pricing and simulations are similar, I'm looking to balance my card with a few shots on the favorites and then going the long shot route. I already have action on Woodland and will be adding another favorite or two before bumping down to the long shots.

Good statistical fits for this course look to be Fleetwood, Koepka, Byeong-Hun An (+2900), Joaquin Niemann (+4500), and Kevin Streelman (+5500).

Longer shots with balanced profiles are Harold Varner (+6500), Cameron Tringale (+10000), and Brian Harman (+10000).