Gdula's Golf Simulations: Wyndham 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 Wyndham Championship.
|Webb Simpson||8.4%||+1000||Patrick Reed||5.4%||+1600|
|Tommy Fleetwood||4.3%||+1400||Paul Casey||4.1%||+1800|
|Brooks Koepka||3.8%||+1000||Billy Horschel||3.4%||+3100|
|Sergio Garcia||3.3%||+4000||SungJae Im||3.1%||+3700|
|Harris English||2.9%||+2600||Brendon Todd||2.4%||+3700|
|Justin Rose||2.4%||+1800||Kevin Kisner||1.8%||+5000|
|Corey Conners||1.7%||+4500||Joaquin Niemann||1.6%||+5000|
|Sebastian Munoz||1.5%||+21000||J.T. Poston||1.5%||+4800|
|Ryan Moore||1.4%||+5500||Shane Lowry||1.3%||+2900|
|Jason Kokrak||1.2%||+15000||Matthias Schwab||1.2%||+6500|
|Chez Reavie||1.1%||+5000||Tom Lewis||1.1%||+7000|
|Jim Furyk||1.1%||+10000||Harold Varner III||1.0%||+7000|
|Jordan Spieth||1.0%||+3400||Charles Howell III||0.9%||+6500|
|Lucas Glover||0.9%||+8000||Brandt Snedeker||0.9%||+4500|
|Patrick Rodgers||0.8%||+8000||Doc Redman||0.8%||+7000|
|Bud Cauley||0.8%||+8000||Rory Sabbatini||0.8%||+7000|
|Carlos Ortiz||0.8%||+10000||Matt Wallace||0.8%||+8000|
|Brian Harman||0.8%||+7000||Russell Henley||0.8%||+5500|
Webb Simpson (+1000 on FanDuel Sportsbook) is the betting favorite, the model's favorite, and the obvious favorite this week at a course where he's dominated and against a field this weak. Simpson is overvalued -- but only by a bit. I can't blame you for starting your betting card here.
I'm not. Instead, I'm looking to Justin Rose (+2200) despite what the model says. The model is based on long-term form, and Rose hasn't quite been Rose lately. However, he's swapped equipment and has looked more like his former self. We know that the expectation for Rose should be elite driving and iron play, especially against this field. He's a good enough putter to convert birdie chances. His biggest weakness is around-the-green play, which shouldn't factor in much for the winner. We need golfers to hit greens in regulation and make birdies -- not scramble to save par.
The model also likes Sungjae Im (+3400), though I'm starting to worry about his long-term iron play. It's been just about world-average when adjusted for field. He's still a good driver and has a win on Bermuda -- as well as some of his best overall finishes. I've bet him, but it's a harder case to make from a sheer current form standpoint.
The model also finds value in Sergio Garcia (+4000), a former winner at the Wyndham in 2012 and a top-flight tee-to-green player. Garcia's putting is always a concern when seeking his true high-end upside. Billy Horschel (+3100) also has value, per the model results. He is an accurate driver and a good Bermuda putter, which should keep him in the mix this week.
Long shot values look like Sebastian Munoz (+21000) as a really underrated all-around golfer, Jason Kokrak (+15000) as a great ball-striker relative to this field, and Jim Furyk (+10000) as someone who shouldn't miss a fairway. I've bet Munoz already, but he's someone with long enough odds to consider for a top-10 or top-20 instead of just an outright.