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.
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.
|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.