Gdula's Golf Simulations: 3M Open

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 3M Open.

Golfer Simulated
Win Odds
Golfer Simulated
Win Odds
Paul Casey 6.5% +2500 Tommy Fleetwood 6.3% +1600
Dustin Johnson 6.2% +1100 Tony Finau 5.3% +1400
Brooks Koepka 4.9% +1200 Harris English 3.4% +3300
Erik Van Rooyen 3.0% +4000 Lucas Glover 2.2% +3500
Ryan Moore 2.1% +6000 Bubba Watson 1.9% +3500
Jhonattan Vegas 1.8% +6500 Max Homa 1.7% +7000
Matthias Schwab 1.6% +10000 Brian Harman 1.5% +5000
Carlos Ortiz 1.4% +7000 Doc Redman 1.3% +4100
Tom Lewis 1.3% +7500 Russell Henley 1.3% +3300
Matthew Wolff 1.2% +2800 Sepp Straka 1.0% +5000
Charles Howell III 1.0% +9500 Talor Gooch 1.0% +10000
Patrick Rodgers 1.0% +5500 Vaughn Taylor 1.0% +15000
Rafa Cabrera Bello 1.0% +7000 Bernd Wiesberger 1.0% +8500
Emiliano Grillo 0.9% +10000 Charley Hoffman 0.8% +7500
Matthew NeSmith 0.8% +15000 Luke List 0.8% +5000
Sam Burns 0.8% +4500 Tom Hoge 0.8% +10000
Scott Piercy 0.8% +12000 Adam Long 0.8% +15000
Russell Knox 0.8% +20000 Adam Schenk 0.7% +15000

So, it's a top-heavy field with a few big names, but my modeling doesn't see value on Dustin Johnson (+1000) or Brooks Koepka (+1200). We can love the names, but the actual data tied to those two is not that appealing over quite a long sample now.

Instead, Paul Casey (+2000 on FanDuel Sportsbook) comes out as the favorite in my model. The reason for it is that he should be a really good course fit when we're seeking ball-striking. Last week, Casey missed the cut by losing 4.0 strokes around the green (he had an eight on a par 3). Other than that, he may very well be the best tee-to-green golfer in the field.

Tommy Fleetwood (+1200) has a steep asking price, though I don't think it's unwarranted -- and it could easily fall. Fleetwood, in 2020, has finished 2nd, 11th, 18th, 3rd, and cut. We haven't seen him play a competitive round recognized by the OWGR since early March, so that's reason to believe his price will lengthen. That being said, he's third in the field in strokes gained: tee to green over his past 50 PGA Tour rounds, via FantasyNational.

Erik Van Rooyen (+3300) has directed a lot of my wagers lately, but it's because he's a really good tee-to-green player, ranking fifth in this field over his past 50 PGA Tour rounds. Harris English (+2700) is seventh and is actually a pretty well-rounded golfer. There's modest value on each of them in my sims.

Ryan Moore (+5000), Jhonattan Vegas (+6000), and Max Homa (+6500) are mid-to-long-range plays at these odds based on my model. They all have a similar profile to what should work at TPC Twin Cities and to last year's winner (Matthew Wolff): great ball-striking with problematic short games. So far, I haven't honed in on any of them.

Matthias Schwab (+10000) had been making cuts until the Memorial in his return to action. He has a very limited PGA Tour sample of four events but rates out as a positive tee-to-green player who can't putt. A top-10 or top-20 is in the cards.

My early-week bets include Casey, van Rooyen, and English, and I'll be waiting to see what happens with Fleetwood's price. I fully expect it to lengthen. I added Max Homa.