Gdula's Golf Simulations: RBC Heritage

There's betting value on Jon Rahm for a bounceback spot at Harbour Town on FanDuel Sportsbook. Where else can we find leverage?

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

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.

Win Odds

Golfer Simulated
Win Odds
Golfer Simulated
Win Odds
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 Berger1.1% +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 sims see value on Shane Lowry (+6000), Billy Horschel (+9000), and Brandt Snedeker (+9000), though I'd be more interested in top-10 and top-20 prices on them.

The same applies to some undervalued long shots: Erik Van Rooyen (+17000) and Ryan Moore (+15000).

My bets so far include Rahm, Simpson, Matsuyama, and Rickie Fowler (listed at +5000 on FanDuel Sportsbook).