Gdula's Golf Simulations: RBC Heritage
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.
Over the hiatus, I made some tweaks to my original golf model, which used a combination of the OWGR's field strength numbers and datagolf's field strength numbers to adjust each golfer's score relative to the field (on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the Korn Ferry Tour). The ultimate goal was 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. From there, a golfer's 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.
I liked it, and it worked, but it didn't isolate out tee-to-green and putting performance enough, so I made some alterations, this time leveraging strokes gained data and adjusting that for field strength.
For now, I'm averaging out both models.
Here are the results for the RBC Heritage.
|Rory McIlroy||7.6%||+1100||Jon Rahm||6.3%||+1800|
|Justin Thomas||5.6%||+1600||Webb Simpson||4.5%||+2900|
|Hideki Matsuyama||4.1%||+2700||Xander Schauffele||3.9%||+2000|
|Brooks Koepka||2.6%||+3400||Bryson DeChambeau||2.6%||+1400|
|Patrick Reed||2.6%||+2900||Justin Rose||2.2%||+2900|
|Collin Morikawa||2.1%||+2700||Dustin Johnson||2.1%||+4000|
|Gary Woodland||2.0%||+3400||Rickie Fowler||1.7%||+5000|
|Matt Kuchar||1.7%||+4200||Shane Lowry||1.6%||+6500|
|Billy Horschel||1.6%||+9000||Sungjae Im||1.5%||+2900|
|Brandt Snedeker||1.5%||+9000||Tyrrell Hatton||1.4%||+5000|
|Matthew Fitzpatrick||1.2%||+5500||Louis Oosthuizen||1.2%||+7000|
|Tony Finau||1.2%||+5000||Daniel Berger||1.1%||+3700|
|Kevin Na||1.1%||+8000||Matt Wallace||1.1%||+17000|
|Byeong Hun An||1.0%||+9000||Viktor Hovland||1.0%||+6500|
|Jordan Spieth||0.9%||+3100||Ryan Moore||0.8%||+15000|
|Ian Poulter||0.8%||+7000||Jason Day||0.8%||+7000|
|Victor Perez||0.8%||+21000||Joaquin Niemann||0.8%||+9000|
|Scottie Scheffler||0.8%||+6000||Abraham Ancer||0.7%||+5500|
Rory McIlroy (+1100 on FanDuel Sportsbook) is once again the betting favorite. He hung around last week with a 68-63-69 start but split his Sunday with a 41-33 (74). His odds should be around +1300 based on my sims, so he looks like a fade once again.
Jon Rahm (+1800) missed the cut last week, and we can look to that as a reason to avoid him, but he ranked seventh in strokes gained: tee to green average. He just lost a ton of strokes putting, so it's a good bounceback spot for Rahm.
There's some positive value on both Webb Simpson (+2900) and Hideki Matsuyama (+2700) if we look at long-term form. Simpson missed the cut at the Charles Schwab, gaining strokes only off the tee. He was still positive overall tee to green (0.23) but dreadful on the greens (-1.45). He's back on Bermuda greens this week.
Matsuyama is making his return here, so there's some question marks. However, we saw golfers return with great form and not great form. It's not as if Hideki is destined to be rusty at Harbour Town.
My bets so far include Rahm, Simpson, Matsuyama, and Rickie Fowler (listed at +5000 on FanDuel Sportsbook).