Gdula's Golf Simulations and Betting Picks: World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba

With a premium on driving accuracy this week, which golfers are setting up well for El Camaleon?

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 World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, according to the models, as well as their FanDuel Sportsbook win odds.

Golfer FanDuel
Win% Top-
Abraham Ancer$11,4007.2%36.3%82.9%+1500
Viktor Hovland$11,8005.3%29.8%80.0%+1900
Justin Thomas$12,0003.0%22.2%75.1%+1600
Russell Henley$9,6002.9%21.6%74.4%+4200
Matt Fitzpatrick$10,8002.5%19.7%73.4%+3700
Brendon Todd$9,0002.4%18.1%72.0%+8000
Scottie Scheffler$11,5002.3%17.5%71.3%+3200
Billy Horschel$10,4002.3%19.3%72.2%+3500
Kevin Streelman$8,7002.2%17.5%71.3%+6000
Ian Poulter$9,0002.1%16.7%70.3%+8000
Brian Harman$9,2002.0%17.0%71.1%+7000
Tony Finau$11,6002.0%16.4%70.2%+3000
Christiaan Bezuidenhout$9,9002.0%14.7%68.2%+7000
Tyrrell Hatton$11,1002.0%15.4%69.1%+3500
Cameron Tringale$10,5001.9%15.5%69.0%+4500
Keegan Bradley$9,6001.8%15.4%69.1%+6500
Talor Gooch$10,3001.8%14.2%67.5%+4500
Patrick Reed$11,3001.7%14.2%67.8%+3700
Sergio Garcia$10,0001.6%15.4%69.0%+4900
Shane Lowry$10,7001.6%13.4%66.3%+3600
Chris Kirk$8,0001.6%13.0%66.7%+10000
Chez Reavie$7,6001.6%15.5%68.8%+8000
Aaron Wise$10,6001.5%14.9%68.1%+3400
Alex Noren$10,2001.4%12.3%65.4%+7000
Emiliano Grillo$9,1001.3%13.3%66.3%+6000
Brian Stuard$7,8001.3%12.7%66.0%+16000
Ryan Moore$7,8001.2%11.2%63.9%+17000
Guillermo Mito Pereira$9,8001.2%11.6%64.9%+4900
Justin Rose$9,9001.1%10.6%62.4%+8000
Brooks Koepka$11,7001.1%12.2%64.9%+3500
Kyle Stanley$7,3001.0%10.9%63.7%+16000
Maverick McNealy$9,7001.0%11.3%63.4%+4800
Will Zalatoris$10,9001.0%10.4%62.5%+3800
Russell Knox$8,9001.0%11.7%64.6%+6500
Joel Dahmen$8,3001.0%12.0%64.1%+8000
Joaquin Niemann$9,8001.0%10.6%63.3%+4100
Doug Ghim$8,0000.9%9.7%62.3%+19000
Seamus Power$9,7000.9%10.0%62.1%+7500
Harold Varner III$8,8000.9%11.4%63.9%+6000
Charley Hoffman$9,2000.9%9.2%60.6%+9500
Adam Hadwin$8,6000.9%10.1%61.9%+8000
Brice Garnett$8,1000.8%10.6%62.8%+16000
Pat Perez$8,5000.8%10.5%63.2%+10000
Tom Hoge$8,2000.8%9.4%61.3%+14000
Troy Merritt$7,8000.8%8.8%60.8%+19000
Henrik Norlander$8,5000.8%9.1%60.0%+14000
Michael Thompson$7,0000.7%8.7%60.5%+31000
Matt Kuchar$9,4000.7%8.4%59.9%+11000
Brendan Steele$9,4000.7%8.6%59.3%+11000
Carlos Ortiz$8,9000.7%9.2%60.8%+6500
Rickie Fowler$10,0000.6%8.5%59.0%+4800
Ryan Palmer$8,5000.6%6.8%56.4%+12000
Zach Johnson$8,0000.6%7.2%57.4%+19000
Martin Laird$7,4000.6%8.6%60.2%+19000
Jhonattan Vegas$9,0000.6%7.9%59.0%+8000
C.T. Pan$8,7000.6%7.8%58.4%+9000
Aaron Rai$8,1000.6%8.2%59.0%+19000
Stephan Jaeger$8,2000.6%7.7%57.7%+16000
Brandt Snedeker$7,7000.5%6.1%54.0%+25000
Gary Woodland$9,5000.5%7.3%56.9%+7500
Adam Svensson$7,4000.5%7.0%57.2%+25000
Patton Kizzire$8,3000.5%6.0%54.0%+16000
Adam Long$8,6000.5%6.2%54.9%+10000
Charles Howell III$8,3000.5%8.0%58.3%+13000
James Hahn$7,5000.5%6.4%55.6%+25000
Kramer Hickok$7,2000.5%6.0%54.9%+25000

It's weird to see that it isn't Justin Thomas (+1400) as the model's favorite (and actually to see Thomas at just 3.0%), but this course requires (or at least rewards) accuracy off the tee rather than driving distance.

That alters Thomas' baseline projection here and bumps up Abraham Ancer (+2000) as the model's favorite.

Ancer already shortened from +2700 to the +2000 mark, drawing near Viktor Hovland's (+1700) odds as the defending champion.

So, based on course fit, Ancer and Hovland make more sense than Thomas, and Ancer is a pretty sizable betting value in the simulations. It helps that the model views Thomas as overvalued. Hovland is an even value.

With Thomas, Tony Finau (+2500) and most of the 30s being overvalued, we do have plenty of plays who rate out as positive expected value bets: Russell Henley (+5000), Brendon Todd (+7500), Kevin Streelman (+7000), Ian Poulter (+8000), Brian Harman (+7000), and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+4900).

Ancer at 20/1 will start the card, and I'll be skipping over most of the 30/1 range for some longer-shots -- given that accuracy-friendly courses keep a larger portion of the field in play.

Updates: We've seen massive shifts to the betting odds at the top. Ancer is now the favorite at 15/1 but still rates as a positive betting value because of the course fit. Hovland is now a slight value, but Thomas remains overvalued.