Gdula's Golf Simulations and Betting Picks: Olympic Women's Golf Competition

Which golfers should succeed at Kasumigaseki, and is Lydia Ko undervalued entering the Olympics?

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

Unfortunately, data for the LPGA Tour isn't nearly as robust as it is on other professional golf tours, but I'm working more and more on solving that issue.

That includes assigning each golfer a strokes gained tally that is weighted for both recency and field strength and also accounting for performance based on course length and green type.

This, then, means we can identify an adjusted strokes gained average for each golfer on the LPGA Tour.

Golfers without a significant sample will have their data regressed to a world-average mark to avoid any extreme outliers.

I then simulate out the event a few thousand times to see who is most likely to win and then compare those simulation odds to the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Here are the most likely winners for the Olympic Women's Golf Competition, according to the model.

Golfer Simulated
Win Odds
Nelly Korda 11.3% +700
Inbee Park 7.9% +1000
Jin Young Ko 6.6% +800
Lydia Ko 6.0% +1600
Hyo Joo Kim 6.0% +1200
Sei Young Kim 4.8% +1200
Yuka Saso 4.6% +2700
Brooke M. Henderson 4.6% +2200
Patty Tavatanakit 4.0% +1800
Lexi Thompson 3.9% +2000
Ariya Jutanugarn 3.7% +1200
Danielle Kang 3.5% +1400
Minjee Lee 3.3% +1800
Shanshan Feng 3.2% +2000
Jessica Korda 3.0% +2900
Xiyu Lin 2.9% +3300
Leona Maguire 2.5% +2000
Hannah Green 2.3% +2200
Nasa Hataoka 1.6% +2000
Celine Boutier 1.5% +4100
Mel Reid 1.3% +8000
Emily Kristine Pedersen 1.0% +10000
Matilda Castren 1.0% +3300
Nanna Koerstz Madsen 0.9% +10000
Gaby Lopez 0.8% +6500
Madelene Sagstrom 0.8% +10000
Sophia Popov 0.8% +10000
Anna Nordqvist 0.7% +6000
Manon De Roey 0.5% +75000
Jodi Ewart Shadoff 0.5% +10000
Wei-Ling Hsu 0.5% +8000
Giulia Molinaro 0.5% +15000
Carlota Ciganda 0.4% +6500
Caroline Masson 0.4% +10000
Perrine Delacour 0.4% +12000
Mone Inami 0.3% +5000
Azahara Munoz 0.3% +12000
Albane Valenzuela 0.2% +21000
Stephanie Meadow 0.2% +50000
Alena Sharp 0.2% +21000
Min Lee 0.1% +12000
Bianca Pagdanganan 0.1% +32000
Maria Fassi 0.1% +42000
Tiffany Chan 0.1% +75000
Klara Spilkova 0.1% +75000
Pia Babnik 0.1% +21000
Sanna Nuutinen 0.1% +21000
Anne van Dam 0.1% +21000
Diksha Dagar 0.0% +42000
Aditi Ashok 0.0% +42000
Mariajo Uribe 0.0% +50000
Kelly Tan 0.0% +50000
Christine Wolf 0.0% +50000
Kim Metraux 0.0% +75000
Lucrezia Colombotto Rosso 0.0% +100000
Maha Haddioui 0.0% +100000
Magdalena Simmermacher 0.0% +100000
Tonje Daffinrud 0.0% +100000
Maria Torres 0.0% +100000
Daniela Darquea 0.0% +100000

The discussion has to begin with Nelly Korda (+700 on FanDuel Sportsbook).

Korda actually rates out a somewhat fair value even at the +700 number. Why? Well, the data is weighted for recency, and Korda's past three starts have been a win (Meijer LPGA Classic), win (KPMG Women's PGA Championship), and 17th (Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational). She also is the best golfer in the world over the past year on courses that classify as long, and Kasumigaseki is listed as a 6,669-yard course for the women.

The model is finding some value on Lydia Ko (+1600). While Ko's driving distance rates out as middling, she ranks fifth in this field in strokes gained average on long courses over the past year and also has good bentgrass splits.

Ko was 52nd at the Women's PGA but 7th at the HSBC Women's World Championship, 2nd at the ANA Inspiration, 26th at the Kia Classic, and 2nd at the Gainbridge LPGA since February, all of which classify as lengthy tracks. She finished runner-up at the 2016 Olympics, as well.

Yuka Saso (+2700) looks really promising here with the caveat is that her sample is still rather small (23 rounds). The 20-year-old LPGA rookie has been on fire, however.

Since a 50th at the ANA Inspiration, she has finished 6th (LOTTE Championship), 1st (winning the U.S. Women's Open), 21st (at the KPMG Women's PGA), 5th (Marathon LPGA Classic), and 5th (Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational).

Brooke Henderson (+2200) ranks sixth in driving distance gained on the LPGA Tour this season and is quite consistent on lengthy tracks with five straight top-25 finishes on such courses in 2021.

The Canadian also has shown good bentgrass splits, including three top-25s on courses with bentgrass greens since mid May in three tries. Henderson put forth a T7 at the 2016 Olympic games.