Gdula's Golf Simulations and Betting Picks: The Open Championship

Which golfers are most likely to win the British Open this week at Royal St. George's in the final major of the year?

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.

The Process

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 Open Championship, according to the models.

Golfer FanDuel
Win% Top-10% Made
Win Odds
Jon Rahm$12,3008.0%39.5%86.6%+750
Xander Schauffele$11,5005.4%32.7%83.6%+1800
Dustin Johnson$11,9003.8%25.8%78.8%+2500
Justin Thomas$11,4003.7%25.7%79.5%+1800
Brooks Koepka$11,8003.2%21.7%75.6%+1600
Jordan Spieth$11,6003.0%24.1%77.7%+1800
Patrick Cantlay$10,7003.0%23.6%77.9%+3300
Viktor Hovland$10,9003.0%21.7%76.8%+3000
Patrick Reed$10,6002.8%22.2%77.2%+3300
Tony Finau$10,2002.5%20.0%74.9%+5000
Louis Oosthuizen$11,1002.5%20.3%74.9%+3000
Collin Morikawa$11,0002.3%20.1%75.4%+3500
Webb Simpson$10,1002.2%17.9%73.0%+6500
Bryson DeChambeau$11,3002.2%20.1%74.6%+3500
Daniel Berger$10,0002.2%18.6%74.0%+7000
Tyrrell Hatton$10,8002.0%17.6%72.7%+3300
Scottie Scheffler$9,7002.0%18.4%73.0%+4500
Rory McIlroy$12,1001.9%18.3%72.9%+2200
Matthew Fitzpatrick$9,9001.9%17.1%72.1%+4000
Paul Casey$10,3001.9%17.0%72.6%+4000
Harris English$9,2001.6%15.7%71.2%+7000
Cameron Smith$9,9001.5%14.4%69.4%+6500
Joaquin Niemann$9,7001.4%14.0%69.0%+7000
Brian Harman$9,1001.3%12.9%68.6%+12000
Abraham Ancer$9,3001.2%13.4%69.0%+7000
Jason Day$9,0001.2%12.9%67.6%+7500
Jason Kokrak$9,3001.2%12.2%66.3%+10000
Corey Conners$8,7001.1%12.4%67.3%+15000
Russell Henley$8,6001.1%11.1%65.8%+13000
Will Zalatoris$9,5001.0%11.4%66.1%+7500
Cameron Tringale$8,9000.9%10.4%64.3%+25000
Charley Hoffman$8,8000.9%11.2%64.8%+17000
Sergio Garcia$9,5000.9%10.4%63.4%+6000
Shane Lowry$9,8000.8%10.9%64.4%+3500
Ryan Palmer$8,2000.8%9.4%62.6%+12000
Talor Gooch$7,8000.8%8.5%60.8%+30000
Sam Burns$9,0000.8%10.7%64.2%+15000
Christiaan Bezuidenhout$8,9000.8%8.6%61.0%+8000
Stewart Cink$8,3000.8%9.5%62.0%+15000
Ian Poulter$8,4000.7%8.5%61.5%+8000
Tommy Fleetwood$10,5000.7%8.4%60.9%+3500
Kevin Kisner$8,9000.7%7.3%58.4%+15000
Keegan Bradley$00.6%9.2%61.8%+15000
Adam Scott$9,6000.6%9.8%62.4%+7500
Emiliano Grillo$00.6%7.0%58.0%+19000
Max Homa$9,0000.6%7.4%58.3%+17000
Lanto Griffin$7,7000.6%7.0%58.4%+35000
Carlos Ortiz$8,1000.5%7.4%58.7%+25000
Justin Rose$9,8000.5%7.5%57.8%+5000
Billy Horschel$8,3000.5%6.7%57.7%+20000
Alex Noren$8,6000.5%8.5%60.9%+9000
Chris Kirk$8,0000.5%6.4%56.5%+24000
Matt Wallace$8,4000.5%7.2%58.8%+15000
Kevin Streelman$8,5000.5%7.5%59.0%+20000
Harold Varner III$00.5%6.0%55.7%+30000
Brendon Todd$8,3000.4%6.1%55.9%+31000
Matt Jones$8,2000.4%6.9%57.3%+25000
Branden Grace$8,8000.4%7.6%58.5%+5000
Lucas Herbert$8,0000.4%6.3%56.2%+7500
Marc Leishman$9,4000.4%6.0%54.1%+6000
Mackenzie Hughes$7,8000.4%4.7%52.5%+35000
Gary Woodland$8,6000.4%6.4%56.2%+18000
Rickie Fowler$9,4000.3%6.0%54.8%+6500
Robert MacIntyre$8,5000.3%6.3%54.7%+6500
Sebastian Munoz$7,8000.3%5.0%53.1%+24000
Matt Kuchar$8,2000.3%4.9%53.1%+20000
Bernd Wiesberger$8,3000.3%5.2%53.8%+13000
Erik van Rooyen$8,1000.3%4.9%52.2%+25000
Lee Westwood$9,6000.3%5.5%53.7%+4000
Garrick Higgo$9,2000.2%4.0%49.5%+8000
Phil Mickelson$8,7000.2%3.8%47.1%+8000

Once again, Jon Rahm (+750 on Golf odds) is the favorite to win both on the odds board and in my win simulations. However, the simulations do not really get him close to the 11.8% odds he needs to be an even value, so he's not someone I'd be looking to bet.

I love Xander Schauffele (+1800) and don't inflate the numbers. One of the reasons I always like him is that his skill level has him on par with or outperforming his betting odds, and we get the latter this week for Schauffele, who has made all three cuts at his past Open Championships, including a runner-up finish.

The long-term adjusted form -- even adjusting for recency -- likes Dustin Johnson (+2500) as the third-most likely winner, and we're starting to see value on his name at the odds. That's a pretty juicy line if you ask me (or the model).

And with some overvalued options (Rahm, Justin Thomas [+1800], and Jordan Spieth [+1800]), we get easier value on the next tier, including Patrick Cantlay (+3300), Viktor Hovland (+3000), and Patrick Reed (+3300). Tony Finau (+5000) also enters as a big value option.

Longer shots Webb Simpson (+6500) and Daniel Berger (+7000) are just better players long-term than the odds suggest and make for strong top-10 options if not outright dark horses.

Other golfers at long odds who outperform their win odds and are some I'm looking for top-10s and top-20s include Cameron Tringale (+25000), Talor Gooch (+30000), Corey Conners (+15000), Brian Harman (+12000), Charley Hoffman (+17000), and Harris English (+7000).

I'm set on getting exposure to Schauffele, Cantlay, and Finau as outright winners but am also considering Dustin Johnson as the odds fall. I'll be hammering the top-10 and top-20 list, as well.