Gdula's Golf Simulations and Betting Picks: Sentry Tournament of Champions

The focus is on Jon Rahm as this week's most likely winner and the co-favorite, but is Patrick Cantlay the best betting value? See what the simulations have to say.

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 adjust for course fit easily. 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 Sentry Tournament of Champions, according to the models, as well as their FanDuel Sportsbook win odds.

Golfer FanDuel
Win% Top-
Jon Rahm$12,00010.0%56.2%100.0%+800
Patrick Cantlay$11,2008.9%53.7%100.0%+1400
Bryson DeChambeau$11,6007.1%47.4%100.0%+1100
Justin Thomas$11,9005.8%45.8%100.0%+800
Cameron Smith$10,7005.7%44.6%100.0%+2000
Jordan Spieth$10,9005.0%48.5%100.0%+2000
Viktor Hovland$11,4004.9%41.4%100.0%+1100
Collin Morikawa$11,7004.5%34.0%100.0%+1000
Xander Schauffele$11,5004.3%39.2%100.0%+1200
Daniel Berger$10,5004.2%39.9%100.0%+2200
Sam Burns$11,1004.1%37.6%100.0%+1600
Tony Finau$10,0003.3%33.8%100.0%+2700
Talor Gooch$9,4002.8%30.8%100.0%+4100
Abraham Ancer$10,1002.5%29.3%100.0%+2900
Sungjae Im$10,4002.4%27.9%100.0%+2200
Jason Kokrak$9,3002.4%28.4%100.0%+3300
Marc Leishman$9,6002.0%24.4%100.0%+3300
Hideki Matsuyama$10,8001.9%25.5%100.0%+2000
Brooks Koepka$10,2001.9%26.6%100.0%+2900
Harris English$9,7001.8%24.5%100.0%+3300
Seamus Power$9,1001.6%22.2%100.0%+5000
Kevin Na$9,0001.5%23.7%100.0%+6500
Patrick Reed$9,9001.4%20.8%100.0%+2700
Billy Horschel$8,8001.2%19.1%100.0%+6500
Max Homa$8,5001.0%20.1%100.0%+8000
Branden Grace$8,1000.9%14.4%100.0%+10000
Stewart Cink$7,0000.8%13.7%100.0%+21000
Matt Jones$7,2000.8%14.7%100.0%+15000
Kyoung-hoon Lee$7,5000.7%14.9%100.0%+12000
Erik van Rooyen$7,3000.6%11.6%100.0%+13000
Siwoo Kim$8,6000.6%11.7%100.0%+8000
Joel Dahmen$7,4000.6%11.2%100.0%+12000
Lucas Herbert$7,9000.5%13.8%100.0%+10000
Cameron Davis$7,7000.5%12.2%100.0%+12000
Lucas Glover$7,1000.4%9.5%100.0%+21000
Garrick Higgo$8,0000.4%9.3%100.0%+10000
Phil Mickelson$7,8000.3%7.4%100.0%+12000
Cameron Champ$8,9000.1%5.3%100.0%+6500
Kevin Kisner$8,2000.1%5.1%100.0%+10000

Both of the co-favorites -- Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas at +800 -- are overvalued, per the model, and there looks to be some plus value on Patrick Cantlay (+1400), Cameron Smith (+2000), and Jordan Spieth (+2000) as a result of most of the other favorites being too short on the odds board.

If you look back at the past winners here, you'll talk yourself out of long-shot bets and reserve those sneaky names for top 10s. We've had Harris English, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Patrick Reed win the past seven of these.

So that's why I'm focused on Cantlay and Smith primarily at the top.

Daniel Berger (+2200) is a pretty fair value, as is Tony Finau (+2700), though I'm personally considering going with Brooks Koepka (+2900) in hopes of a hot start to the 2022 season on someone who seems to be getting healthier.

Without longshot bets drawing my attention, I'll be looking for top-10 plays on any or all of Jason Kokrak (+3300 to win; +240 to finish top-10), Talor Gooch (+4100; +240), Max Homa (+8000; +320), and Kevin Na (+6500; +360).