Gdula's Golf Simulations and Betting Picks: Fortinet Championship

Is Jon Rahm a lock to bet for the Fortinet Championship? Which golfers are positive values for the PGA Tour's first event of the season?

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 Fortinet Championship, according to the models.

Golfer FanDuel
Win% Top-10% Made
Win Odds
Jon Rahm$12,50021.1%62.3%89.9%+410
Webb Simpson$11,8005.0%28.5%75.2%+1500
Hideki Matsuyama$11,6003.4%25.2%72.9%+1700
Kevin Na$11,3003.2%22.7%70.9%+1900
Will Zalatoris$11,4002.9%21.3%69.6%+2100
Cameron Tringale$11,0002.8%20.2%69.0%+3300
Charley Hoffman$10,5002.2%18.4%66.8%+4300
Emiliano Grillo$10,3002.1%17.1%65.2%+6000
Talor Gooch$9,7002.0%15.0%63.3%+7500
Harold Varner III$10,9001.5%14.9%63.6%+3300
Siwoo Kim$10,7001.4%13.4%60.9%+3300
Doug Ghim$9,7001.4%14.1%62.1%+7000
Max Homa$10,1001.3%13.6%61.8%+4300
Taylor Moore$8,7001.3%13.9%62.5%+9500
Maverick McNealy$10,2001.3%14.2%62.4%+4300
Lanto Griffin$9,3001.2%11.4%59.0%+9500
Brendon Todd$10,4001.2%11.1%58.5%+7500
Patton Kizzire$9,5001.2%12.5%59.9%+14000
Chad Ramey$9,9001.1%11.2%59.3%+7500
Marc Leishman$10,6001.0%10.3%57.2%+4300
Hank Lebioda$8,3001.0%9.9%56.6%+11000
Stephan Jaeger$9,8000.9%10.0%56.8%+4700
Sebastian J Munoz$11,1000.9%11.5%59.0%+3900
Charles Howell III$9,3000.8%10.1%56.0%+11000
Luke List$8,6000.8%9.8%56.4%+14000
Alex Smalley$8,8000.8%9.4%54.5%+16000
Adam Hadwin$9,0000.8%9.5%56.0%+9000
Aaron Rai$8,8000.8%9.2%55.2%+14000
Lucas Herbert$8,6000.7%8.9%54.7%+11000
Chez Reavie$9,8000.7%9.3%55.3%+6000
Guillermo Mito Pereira$9,9000.7%9.6%55.9%+7000
Pat Perez$9,6000.7%10.0%56.7%+9500
Sahith Theegala$8,9000.6%7.4%51.9%+12000
Taylor Pendrith$8,9000.6%8.3%53.8%+9000
Ryan Armour$8,2000.6%7.0%51.2%+14000
Troy Merritt$8,3000.6%7.4%52.3%+11000
Michael Thompson$8,4000.6%7.6%52.2%+19000
Russell Knox$8,2000.6%7.2%51.5%+14000
Adam Svensson$8,4000.6%7.9%53.6%+16000
Brandt Snedeker$9,9000.6%7.7%52.8%+6500
Joseph Bramlett$8,6000.6%8.0%53.3%+12000
Brendan Steele$9,2000.5%6.9%50.3%+11000
Ryan Moore$8,7000.5%6.9%50.3%+9500
Vincent Whaley$8,4000.5%7.0%51.6%+25000
Tom Hoge$8,3000.5%7.0%52.1%+14000
Dylan Frittelli$9,0000.5%8.2%53.4%+14000
Brice Garnett$8,0000.5%7.1%51.1%+11000
Kyle Stanley$9,0000.5%8.0%53.4%+19000
C.T. Pan$9,2000.5%7.8%53.2%+9500
Matthew NeSmith$7,0000.5%5.4%47.3%+32000
Andrew Novak$8,0000.5%5.9%48.5%+25000
Harry Higgs$9,1000.5%7.1%51.1%+8500
Roger Sloan$9,8000.5%7.5%52.3%+7500
Patrick Rodgers$8,3000.5%8.4%54.0%+16000
Bo Hoag$7,9000.5%6.4%50.0%+25000

I know Jon Rahm (+410) on FanDuel Sportsbook seems super short, and he is, but he's also undervalued, which is crazy. Rahm is basically 2.00 strokes per round better than everyone other than Kevin Na (+1900) over the past three months, per datagolf.

Other positive expected values in the simulation model include Talor Gooch (+7500), Emiliano Grillo (+6000), Patton Kizzire (+14000), Taylor Moore (+9500), Alex Smalley (+16000), and Lanto Griffin (+9500).

I'd be wanting to leave Smalley and Moore for top-10s or top-20s rather than outright, but they've got good data once adjusted for field strength. I also have interest in Cameron Tringale (+3300), who is more of a middling value.

My card will definitely include Na, Tringale, Gooch, Grillo, Kizzire, and Moore.