GOLF

Gdula's Golf Simulations and Betting Picks: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational

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 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, according to the models.

Golfer FanDuel
Salary
Win% Top-10% FanDuel
Sportsbook
Win Odds
Xander Schauffele$11,9005.7%36.8%+1400
Collin Morikawa$12,0004.3%34.7%+1200
Jordan Spieth$11,7004.1%32.1%+1400
Dustin Johnson$11,6004.0%29.5%+1800
Viktor Hovland$10,8004.0%30.6%+2200
Patrick Cantlay$11,0003.8%29.1%+2200
Justin Thomas$11,4003.7%28.5%+1600
Louis Oosthuizen$11,2003.7%29.6%+2200
Patrick Reed$10,1003.3%25.3%+3400
Daniel Berger$10,9003.2%28.6%+2200
Brooks Koepka$12,2003.1%29.0%+1100
Scottie Scheffler$10,5002.9%25.6%+3100
Paul Casey$10,4002.7%25.5%+2900
Tyrrell Hatton$9,8002.7%22.3%+4100
Bryson DeChambeau$11,1002.6%24.0%+2700
Webb Simpson$9,9002.6%24.2%+3400
Tony Finau$10,2002.4%21.6%+4000
Corey Conners$9,3002.4%23.0%+4500
Matt Fitzpatrick$10,0002.3%23.2%+3400
Rory McIlroy$11,5002.2%20.3%+1800
Abraham Ancer$9,5002.2%22.3%+4100
Cameron Smith$9,7002.1%20.4%+3400
Brian Harman$8,7002.1%19.9%+5500
Harris English$9,1002.0%21.0%+3700
Jason Kokrak$9,0002.0%18.0%+4200
Joaquin Niemann$9,6001.9%19.3%+4100
Hideki Matsuyama$10,7001.7%20.7%+2700
Will Zalatoris$8,8001.4%15.3%+4500
Sungjae Im$8,9001.2%14.5%+5500
Sam Burns$8,2001.1%13.0%+5500
Sergio Garcia$8,6001.0%13.6%+4500
Shane Lowry$9,4001.0%14.3%+4100
Ryan Palmer$7,6001.0%13.1%+10000
Siwoo Kim$7,6000.9%12.7%+12000
Tommy Fleetwood$9,2000.9%11.6%+5000
Max Homa$7,5000.9%11.9%+10000
Adam Scott$8,4000.8%11.6%+5500
Billy Horschel$8,1000.8%12.2%+8000
Kevin Kisner$7,9000.8%10.6%+8000
Stewart Cink$7,4000.7%11.1%+12000
Justin Rose$8,5000.7%10.1%+5500
Carlos Ortiz$7,5000.7%9.7%+12000
Ian Poulter$7,9000.7%11.8%+10000
Matt Jones$7,1000.6%9.4%+15000
Robert MacIntyre$7,8000.5%9.7%+10000
Lucas Glover$7,2000.5%7.7%+12000
Kevin Na$7,3000.5%8.7%+12000


Brooks Koepka (+1100 on FanDuel Sportsbook) is always hard to get right with a model because of how he doesn't really play at the same level week-to-week. I love him from a daily fantasy standpoint, but the sheer numbers suggest he's very overrated at his 11/1 odds.

However, everyone seems to be a bit inflated based on my numbers here because of how good and deep the field is.

I've got the most interest in Jordan Spieth (+1400) and Daniel Berger (+2200) among the favorites. They fit the course well (Berger has two wins here and Spieth doesn't need to be dialed in with the driver).

Patrick Reed (+3400) is a positive expected value, but I think I'll stay away due to the sheer travel. I think he's a good daily fantasy play but perhaps not for an outright win this week.

Given the travel involved for virtually the whole field (and because the WGC events are usually won by the best in the field), I'm relying less on the model and am honing in on Spieth, Berger, Scottie Scheffler (+3100), and Jason Kokrak (+4200) to start the week.