Gdula's Golf Simulations: U.S. 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.
After using an average of those two models, I've now swapped to the newer model, which has fared better and is capable of easier course-level adjustments.
Here are the simulation results for the U.S. Open.
|Jon Rahm||7.5%||+1000||Justin Thomas||6.5%||+1400|
|Dustin Johnson||5.3%||+850||Xander Schauffele||4.9%||+1400|
|Rory McIlroy||4.6%||+1600||Webb Simpson||4.0%||+2800|
|Hideki Matsuyama||3.1%||+3500||Patrick Cantlay||2.8%||+2700|
|Bryson DeChambeau||2.8%||+2800||Patrick Reed||2.8%||+3600|
|Collin Morikawa||2.7%||+1800||Tyrrell Hatton||2.6%||+4500|
|Daniel Berger||2.3%||+3000||Adam Scott||1.8%||+4000|
|Tony Finau||1.5%||+3500||Matthew Fitzpatrick||1.4%||+4800|
|Rickie Fowler||1.4%||+6500||Tiger Woods||1.3%||+4800|
|Viktor Hovland||1.3%||+6500||Gary Woodland||1.3%||+8000|
|Harris English||1.2%||+7000||Jason Day||1.2%||+4000|
|Sungjae Im||1.2%||+8000||Tommy Fleetwood||1.1%||+3300|
|Abraham Ancer||1.1%||+8000||Matthew Wolff||1.0%||+6500|
|Justin Rose||1.0%||+5000||Paul Casey||1.0%||+5000|
|Will Zalatoris||0.9%||+12000||Corey Conners||0.9%||+21000|
|Matt Kuchar||0.9%||+15000||Louis Oosthuizen||0.8%||+7500|
|Billy Horschel||0.8%||+15000||Kevin Kisner||0.7%||+10000|
|Joaquin Niemann||0.7%||+11000||Brendon Todd||0.7%||+8500|
Once again, Jon Rahm rates out as the most likely winner in my simulations because he's very good, but there isn't enough value on him at +1000 on FanDuel Sportsbook to want to go there. That said, he and Justin Thomas (+1400) are in a much better value spot than Dustin Johnson. I just can't get behind Johnson at +850.
My model likes Webb Simpson (+2800) to outperform expectations. Simpson won't gain distance on the field, but the rough at Winged Foot is tough enough that we should value driving accuracy. Simpson checks the boxes everywhere but distance, so I'm intrigued here.
Once again, Hideki Matsuyama (+3500) looks like a value, but it's just really hard to back Matsuyama at a course where putting could determine the winner. The greens are no joke, and so I'm going to pass here.
Patrick Reed (+3600) is priced exactly where he should be based on my model. He can grind out pars with the best of them and is a strong poa putter. He'll get a ticket from me for this week.
Gary Woodland (+8000) and Sungjae Im (+8000) lived up to their odds in the simulations as well. Expecting Woodland to go back-to-back at the U.S. Open is a bit overconfident, but there's probably no real statistical basis to feel that way.
I'm a little out over my skis from U.S. Open excitement, but I've got outrights on Reed, Matthew Wolff, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Sungjae Im -- and a ticket on Tony Finau placed in the summer.