Gdula's Golf Simulations: Arnold Palmer Invitational
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.
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 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
|Rory McIlroy||15.8%||+550||Hideki Matsuyama||5.7%||+2000|
|Xander Schauffele||5.3%||+2000||Adam Scott||4.9%||+2000|
|Tommy Fleetwood||3.3%||+1400||Rickie Fowler||3.0%||+3300|
|Justin Rose||2.9%||+3400||Brooks Koepka||2.9%||+2700|
|Bryson DeChambeau||2.6%||+1600||Patrick Reed||2.6%||+2700|
|Sungjae Im||2.4%||+2700||Tony Finau||1.8%||+3100|
|Byeong Hun An||1.7%||+4000||Jason Day||1.7%||+2700|
|Billy Horschel||1.7%||+5000||Collin Morikawa||1.6%||+4500|
|Abraham Ancer||1.3%||+6000||Henrik Stenson||1.1%||+3700|
|Matthew Fitzpatrick||1.1%||+4000||Tyrrell Hatton||1.1%||+5000|
|Scottie Scheffler||0.9%||+9000||Sebastian Munoz||0.9%||+10000|
|Max Homa||0.9%||+6500||Joaquin Niemann||0.9%||+8000|
|Marc Leishman||0.8%||+3700||Vaughn Taylor||0.7%||+13000|
|J.T. Poston||0.7%||+9000||Wyndham Clark||0.7%||+8000|
|Charles Howell III||0.7%||+10000||Carlos Ortiz||0.7%||+10000|
|Kevin Kisner||0.7%||+7000||Bubba Watson||0.7%||+4500|
|Kevin Na||0.7%||+10000||Jason Kokrak||0.7%||+9000|
|Harris English||0.7%||+8000||Corey Conners||0.6%||+10000|
It's a top-heavy field, and that means a high likelihood that one of the elite players wins at Bay Hill. Long shot bets are probably better spent on top-10s and top-20s rather than outrights. The past five winners were Francesco Molinari, Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Jason Day, and Matt Every (back-to-back). Before that, Tiger Woods won it back-to-back.
Rory McIlroy (+550) is a massive favorite this week, and the win simulations suggest that he's priced appropriately. It's hard to avoid McIlroy entirely, and won here two years ago, but the return is still thin at +550. My card is starting elsewhere this week.
Hideki Matsuyama (+2000) and Xander Schauffele (+2000) rate out well at this course despite iffy form at Bay Hill. Hideki has one top-20 over the past five years, and Schauffele has not played here. Those two plus Adam Scott (+2000) is the tier I'm looking to bet first due to their current form. I already have action on Xander at +2000. Matsuyama at +2000 is juicy.
I don't want to punt much this week, as I find maximizing value in the second tier (the guys at +2000) and the +4500 to +9000 range is ideal.