Gdula's Golf Simulations and Betting Picks: TOUR 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.

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 TOUR Championship, according to the models.

Golfer FanDuel
Win% Top-10% FanDuel
Win Odds
Patrick Cantlay$12,80025.0%84.2%+380
Jon Rahm$13,00018.9%81.1%+380
Tony Finau$12,3009.7%66.5%+650
Bryson DeChambeau$12,6008.7%65.5%+500
Cameron Smith$10,8004.2%48.7%+2200
Abraham Ancer$10,4003.6%44.1%+3400
Viktor Hovland$9,6003.1%42.7%+4200
Justin Thomas$11,5003.0%44.5%+1800
Louis Oosthuizen$9,5002.6%38.0%+4500
Jordan Spieth$11,0002.6%38.2%+2600
Collin Morikawa$9,7002.2%39.5%+3700
Dustin Johnson$11,3001.9%34.4%+2200
Harris English$10,1001.9%36.0%+3700
Xander Schauffele$10,5001.8%33.2%+2600
Sam Burns$9,9001.5%30.5%+3700
Sungjae Im$9,2001.3%29.7%+5000
Brooks Koepka$9,0001.2%26.0%+5000
Corey Conners$7,7001.1%24.9%+16000
Rory McIlroy$10,9001.1%28.6%+2200
Scottie Scheffler$8,5000.9%23.9%+10000
Daniel Berger$7,6000.7%21.1%+16000
Jason Kokrak$8,2000.6%17.1%+10000
Kevin Na$7,8000.5%16.1%+16000
Joaquin Niemann$7,2000.5%17.4%+16000
Hideki Matsuyama$8,1000.4%20.2%+12000
Patrick Reed$7,3000.4%13.7%+21000
Sergio Garcia$7,0000.3%12.5%+21000
Stewart Cink$7,0000.1%7.9%+42000
Billy Horschel$7,0000.1%6.9%+28000
Erik van Rooyen$7,0000.1%6.9%+21000

Okay, so this week, we have some net scoring to deal with, as the field will be starting with strokes under par based on their FedEx Cup standings -- excluding the bottom five in the field, who start at even par.

This leads to some pretty wild swings in win odds.

The Round 0, Patrick Cantlay, should be the most likely winner, according to the models. Cantlay's odds are only +380, but he will have a two-shot lead on everyone in the field and a shot per round's worth over all but Tony Finau (8-under) and Bryson DeChambeau (7-under). Cantlay does rate as a positive expected value based on the model. He's not getting enough love with his advantage over the field, per the simulation model.

Jon Rahm will be starting at 6-under par and is rating out as 18.9% likely to net the win. He, Finau, and DeChambeau are ranking as overrated, though.

Value starts to emerge at 4-under, which is admittedly a tall task to overcome -- at least subjectively.

Jordan Spieth (+2600), Sam Burns (+3700), and Harris English (+3700) are all initial fair or positive values at 4-under starts.

Collin Morikawa (+3700) will begin at 3-under and is a betting value, per the the sims. Only Corey Conners gets a bigger field-adjustment boost this week, according to datagolf.

I'll have interest in Cantlay because the model likes him so much, but +380 odds don't really do it for me personally. Spieth, Cameron Smith (+2200, starting 5-under), Burns, Morikawa, and Brooks Koepka (+5000, starting 2-under) are where I'm honing in.