Gdula's Golf Simulations: AT&T Byron Nelson
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 AT&T Byron Nelson, according to the models.
|Si Woo Kim||2.0%||18.6%||69.8%||+3400|
|Charles Howell III||0.9%||11.9%||62.9%||+8000|
|Erik van Rooyen||0.8%||10.2%||60.2%||+15000|
One big thing to note this week: we're getting our first PGA Tour glimpse of TPC Craig Ranch, which hosted the (now) Korn Ferry Tour Championship in 2008 and 2012. Based on a pretty basic approach, it looks like distance and even scrambling could matter a bit this week. The course is heavily bunkered, so that sort of makes sense with the scrambling aspect.
Okay, so, Bryson DeChambeau (+700 on FanDuel Sportsbook) is the favorite to win this week and is playing Texas, where he lives and went to college. But my model, as always, likes Jon Rahm (+850) more. Rahm is coming off of a missed cut but really struggled with the short game rather than the ball-striking.
Rahm and Daniel Berger (+1400) are about equal in the value market, per my model, so I'd probably just rather start with Berger at nearly twice the odds.
The odds movement overall has affected my gameplan for the week, but I have action on Berger, Zalatoris, Day, Gooch, Ghim, and Wyndham Clark.