Gdula's Golf Simulations: Rocket Mortgage Classic
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 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
|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.