GOLF

Gdula's Golf Simulations: Travelers Championship

Where do FanDuel Sportsbook and my simulations differ for this week's event at TPC River Highlands?

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 Travelers Championship.

Golfer Simulated
Win%
FanDuel
Sportsbook
Win Odds
Golfer Simulated
Win%
FanDuel
Sportsbook
Win Odds
Rory McIlroy 7.1% +1100 Justin Thomas 5.6% +1100
Jon Rahm 5.1% +2000 Webb Simpson* 4.2% +1800
Xander Schauffele 4.1% +2700 Patrick Cantlay 3.7% +2200
Bryson DeChambeau 3.6% +1200 Dustin Johnson 2.7% +2700
Justin Rose 2.6% +2700 Patrick Reed 2.6% +4000
Gary Woodland 2.3% +4800 Brooks Koepka* 2.3% +2000
Collin Morikawa 2.1% +3400 Paul Casey 1.8% +3100
Sungjae Im 1.8% +3400 Marc Leishman 1.7% +5000
Jordan Spieth 1.7% +4000 Shane Lowry 1.5% +9000
Matthew Fitzpatrick 1.4% +4500 Billy Horschel 1.4% +9000
Tony Finau 1.4% +4500 Ian Poulter 1.1% +6500
Joaquin Niemann 1.1% +4000 Louis Oosthuizen 1.1% +9000
Scottie Scheffler 1.0% +6500 Jason Kokrak 0.9% +9000
Abraham Ancer 0.9% +3300 Joel Dahmen 0.8% +8000
Viktor Hovland 0.8% +4500 Jason Day0.8% +6500
Kevin Na 0.8% +10000 Sergio Garcia 0.8% +4200
Max Homa 0.7% +13000 Kevin Kisner 0.6% +7000
Jhonattan Vegas 0.5% +15000 Rafa Cabrera Bello 0.5% +15000


*Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka, Graeme McDowell, Cameron Champ, and Chase Koepka have withdrawn.

These fields have been super competitive through two weeks. They're deep, they're good, and they're -- some third thing that I didn't think about before I started writing that list.

The point here: odds are pretty bunched up among the top of the fields, and that leaves little value on long shots if we're seeking outright winners. Via datagolf, the top 25% of the fields in these past two loaded events are about a full stroke per round better than the Tour average player. It's really difficult to win, and that's why I've been clinging to the value available in the second and third tiers of studs.

Webb Simpson was available at +3000 last week, which I noted as a bet I made in last week's sims piece. Daniel Berger's long-term form kept him down in my Charles Schwab sims, but he's clearly positioned himself as a top-flight golfer. We should keep that in mind as we find our winners this week.

Berger is out this week, but the field still gets tougher with Patrick Cantlay and Paul Casey returning.

There's positive value on tee-to-green stud Xander Schauffele (+2700 on FanDuel Sportsbook) after he imploded last week (-2.8 strokes tee to green).

My modeling also sees positive value on Shane Lowry (+9000), who missed both cuts in his return. He gained marginally off the tee in each but was underwhelming overall. I'll pass, but a top-10 or top-20 is in the cards.

Jon Rahm (+2000) outperformed his posted odds in the sims. Rahm has gained 5.2 strokes off the tee and 1.7 strokes with his approach over six measured rounds since returning. The luster has worn off, so keep an eye to see if he lengthens even more, but +2000 is a great price for him, and we shouldn't be afraid to go get it.

Gary Woodland (+4800) was ice cold last week off the tee (-4.8 strokes) and has now lost 7.0 strokes off the tee over the past two events despite elite iron play. At the number, I'm good with Woodland.

Patrick Reed (+4000) pops here, but I think I'm out. He was boosted by putting at the Charles Schwab (T7) but missed the cut at the RBC Heritage while losing 3.9 strokes with his approach play.

Marc Leishman (+5000) won here in 2012. He's been very neutral overall aside from a good putting performance last week. The models like him enough to consider him.

Scottie Scheffler (+7000) didn't play last week but is a stellar ball-striker who rates out well enough in the model to consider for an outright, though a top-10 is also appealing.

So far, I have action on Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, and Sungjae Im to win outright as well as top-10s on Scheffler and Aaron Wise (+2900 on FanDuel Sportsbook). I'm waiting to see where the lines for Rahm and Schauffele go from here but will probably just play them regardless.