Gdula's Golf Simulations: Rocket Mortgage Classic

Detroit Golf Club hosts its second ever PGA Tour event. Who do the simulations like to win?

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 Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Golfer Simulated
Win Odds
Golfer Simulated
Win Odds
Bryson DeChambeau 9.7% +600 Webb Simpson 8.7% +1200
Tyrrell Hatton 6.4% +1400 Patrick Reed 6.2% +1400
Hideki Matsuyama 4.9% +1400 Sungjae Im 3.6% +2000
Tony Finau 3.0% +2900 Viktor Hovland 2.6% +1600
Rickie Fowler 2.3% +2700 Erik Van Rooyen 2.2% +6000
Scottie Scheffler 2.0% +3400 J.T. Poston 1.9% +4200
Brian Harman 1.6% +6000 Adam Hadwin 1.5% +6000
Kevin Na 1.5% +3100 Brandt Snedeker 1.5% +4200
Bubba Watson 1.5% +3400 Brendon Todd 1.3% +5000
Rafa Cabrera Bello 1.2% +6500 Lucas Glover 1.2% +5000
Christiaan Bezuidenhout 1.1% +6000 Harold Varner III 1.0% +6500
Rory Sabbatini 1.0% +4000 Lanto Griffin 1.0% +13000
Kevin Kisner 1.0% +6000 Danny Willett 0.9% +13000
Andrew Putnam 0.8% +15000 Jason Day 0.8% +4500
Mark Hubbard 0.8% +10000 Matt Jones 0.7% +17000
Harry Higgs 0.6% +13000 Sebastian Munoz 0.6% +10000
Keegan Bradley 0.6% +7000 Tom Hoge 0.6% +13000
Doc Redman 0.6% +4000 Maverick McNealy 0.6% +6500

It's not a huge surprise that Bryson DeChambeau (+600) is the betting favorite and model favorite, but the price is too steep, and I can't justify it. The value just isn't there, and that's even with the very real possibility that Bryson dominates this field.

Webb Simpson is a much better play at +1200 and actually outperforms those odds in the simulations. If betting anyone at the top of the field, I'd be on Webb for a second straight win.

I don't mind Patrick Reed (+1400), Tyrrell Hatton (+1400), or Sungjae Im (+2000), but I think this week is about the middle and bottom of the field more than the top, based on the course setup that de-emphasizes driving.

A crop of golfers at +6000 look pretty solid this week, and that's probably how I'll approach the card. Just fade the top (outside of potentially Webb) and spread out bigger returns in this range.

Erik Van Rooyen always pops for me, especially when factoring in tee-to-green performance more in the new model. EVR is just one of the best tee-to-green golfers in the world. Brian Harman is priced right. Harman has been 23rd, 28th, and cut since returning but has shown a lot of life with his irons. Adam Hadwin has been good not great since returning, with a T43 at the Charles Schwab and a T41 at the RBC Heritage but picked up ball-striking stats in each.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello (+6500) is just a notch below those odds and rates out just shy of proper value. RCB has finished 23rd, cut, and 37th since the return to golf with lukewarm stats, but he's in the mix for me. The same goes for Harold Varner at the same price.

Lanto Griffin (+13000), winner at the Houston Open earlier this season, does outpace his FanDuel Sportsbook odds in the win sims. A small wager or a top-10 or top-20 is definitely on the card this week. The same goes for all the golfers who made the top-36 table above whose odds are +10000 or longer.

I wound up going with a long shot approach this week with a smattering of low-unit wagers, including Van Rooyen, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Hadwin, Tom Hoge, Sebastian Munoz, Lanto Griffin, and a few others I won't mention due to sheer embarrassment. At the top, I've got action on Sungjae Im and Scottie Scheffler. I'm hoping to see Hatton's price drop more.