Gdula's Golf Simulations: Valspar 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 years, I have made plenty of tweaks to my original golf model, which uses 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 is 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.
In addition to that long-term adjusted form, I factor in course-level adjustments for course fit.
I run a second model that uses more granular strokes gained data, which allows me to very easily adjust for course fit. The results are averaged out.
I let the data do the talking and don't make many tweaks -- if any. Golfers with a small sample get regressed to a low-end PGA Tour player to round out their samples. Data points are weighted more heavily toward recent performance.
Here are the most likely winners for the Valspar Championship, according to the models.
|Charles Howell III||0.9%||10.4%||59.7%||+9000|
The two betting favorites, Justin Thomas (+850) and Dustin Johnson (+1000), are the two favorites in the model, but they also are overvalued on FanDuel Sportsbook with how their win odds rate out over 10,000 simulations. It's a pretty strong and deep field, and the course at Copperhead is tough, historically.
I usually like targeting the best golfers at tougher courses because it takes more skill to birdie a hole that's difficult to birdie than it is to birdie a hole when it's super easy and everyone can birdie it. (I don't have data to back that up, but it makes sense.) However, Copperhead rewards driving accuracy rather than distance, so Thomas and Johnson lose some of their distance-derived edge on the field. Again, they're still rightfully favored, but they aren't necessarily elite bets at their numbers.
So, instead, I'm taking the value and looking to some high-end ball-strikers who are usually accurate off the tee with Viktor Hovland (+2000) and Corey Conners (+2000), who are available at double the odds or more of JT and DJ.
Another bet the model likes is on Russell Henley (+3100), which is typical based on his stats profile. There was obviously more value on him when he opened at +3700, but he's an accurate driver who stripes the irons as well as anyone other than Justin Thomas over the past year.
Abraham Ancer (+3300) should fit the accuracy-centric course and rates out as a fair value in his own right.
I've got outrights on on Hovland, Henley, and Palmer and top-10s on Streelman, Huh, Lanto Griffin to start the week.