Gdula's Golf Simulations: Travelers 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.
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.
|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 Day||0.8%||+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|
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.
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.