Gdula's Golf Simulations: THE PLAYERS Championship

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 out the event thousands of times.

Here are the results for THE PLAYERS Championship.

Win Odds

Golfer Wins FanDuel
Golfer Wins FanDuel
Rory McIlroy 9.08% +650 Jon Rahm 6.84% +1300
Justin Thomas 4.66% +1400 Hideki Matsuyama 3.57% +2700
Xander Schauffele 3.56% +3000 Patrick Cantlay 3.33% +2700
Webb Simpson 2.96% +2500 Adam Scott 2.78% +2700
Tommy Fleetwood 2.57% +2700 Collin Morikawa 2.16% +3700
Dustin Johnson 2.11% +2900 Sungjae Im 2.08% +2700
Bryson DeChambeau 2.08% +2200 Brooks Koepka 1.80% +3900
Patrick Reed 1.77% +3600 Louis Oosthuizen 1.63% +8000
Paul Casey 1.55% +4900 Rickie Fowler 1.50% +3500
Abraham Ancer 1.42% +11000 Shane Lowry 1.38% +8500
Billy Horschel 1.38% +9500 Matthew Fitzpatrick 1.32% +5500
Gary Woodland 1.17% +4600 Tony Finau 1.12% +4400
Scottie Scheffler 1.11% +11000 Matt Kuchar 1.06% +7500
Tyrrell Hatton 1.01% +3800 Justin Rose 0.94% +7000
Henrik Stenson 0.94% +8000 Jason Day 0.90% +8000
Marc Leishman 0.89% +3500 Erik van Rooyen 0.89% +17000
Joel Dahmen 0.88% +12000 Kevin Na 0.84% +13000
Max Homa 0.82% +18000 Byeong Hun An 0.74% +9000

Unsurprisingly, Rory McIlroy (+650 on FanDuel Sportsbook) is again both the odds-on favorite and the most likely winner in my simulations. McIlroy has just been the best golfer on the planet over the past calendar year. We're dealing with a pretty volatile event, and golfers with great pedigrees can miss the cut. That added variance throws a wrench into things, and I won't be betting Rory to repeat.

Jon Rahm (+1300) and Justin Thomas (+1400) both rate out as a little overpriced, but naturally Rahm is less so with his better win odds and the similar betting price. Rahm would be the first place I'd look if I had to bet Rory, Rahm, or Thomas this week.

There's value or break-even numbers on Hideki Matsuyama (+2700), Patrick Cantlay (+2700), and Xander Schauffele (+3000), and honestly, bumping down a bit on the card gets us access to more stud players at more digestible prices and helps with the volatility that TPC Sawgrass often offers.

Abraham Ancer (+11000), Louis Oosthuizen (+8000), Billy Horschel (+9500), and Erik Van Rooyen (+17000), and Max Homa (+18000) are potential long shot values based on the simulations.

I've got some action scattered throughout so far, but the way that I'm planning on approaching this week is honing in on two to four guys in the secondary tier of studs -- such as Schauffele, Hideki, Cantlay, Adam Scott (+2700), Patrick Reed (+3600), Paul Casey (+4900), Matthew Fitzpatrick (+5500) -- and then rounding out the card with the long shots I like. Schauffele, Reed, and Fitzpatrick are my early-week favorites.