Gdula's Golf Simulations: The ZOZO 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.
I'll keep it simple: I track weekly results from the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the Korn Ferry Tour.
Using a combination of the OWGR's field strength numbers and datagolf's field strength numbers, I adjust each golfer's score relative to the field. 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.
Their adjusted stroke data is combined with their round-to-round variance to see how the field is likely to perform when playing the event out thousands of times.
Here are the results for the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP.
Top Win Odds
|Rory McIlroy||9.7%||+800||Justin Thomas||8.8%||+750|
|Adam Scott||4.3%||+2200||Hideki Matsuyama||3.7%||+1800|
|Xander Schauffele||3.4%||+2000||Paul Casey||3.1%||+2200|
|Shane Lowry||2.8%||+4500||Louis Oosthuizen||2.2%||+4000|
|Jordan Spieth||2.1%||+2200||Jason Kokrak||2.1%||+7000|
|Tony Finau||2.0%||+3000||Adam Hadwin||1.9%||+4500|
|Gary Woodland||1.9%||+2800||Tommy Fleetwood||1.7%||+2500|
|Chez Reavie||1.7%||+6600||Viktor Hovland||1.7%||+2800|
|Ryo Ishikawa||1.6%||+12500||Billy Horschel||1.6%||+5000|
|Collin Morikawa||1.5%||+3000||Patrick Reed||1.5%||+2500|
|Tiger Woods||1.5%||+3000||Byeong Hun An||1.5%||+4000|
|Matthew Fitzpatrick||1.5%||+3500||Shugo Imahira||1.5%||+8000|
|Andrew Putnam||1.5%||+6600||Jason Day||1.4%||+3000|
|Ryan Moore||1.2%||+5000||Joaquin Niemann||1.2%||+4500|
|Rory Sabbatini||1.1%||+8000||Max Homa||1.1%||+30000|
|Sungjae Im||1.1%||+3500||Rafa Cabrera Bello||1.1%||+4000|
|Corey Conners||1.0%||+5000||Kevin Kisner||1.0%||+5000|
|Marc Leishman||1.0%||+4000||JT Poston||0.9%||+10000|
The win equity between Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas is tough to ignore, but there isn't enough value to consider betting them unless you're rounding out your card with a lot of long shots. It's not the worst idea if you can swing it. However, no-cut events should make us gravitate more toward studs than dark horses.
Adam Scott is priced appropriately this week, though I'm going to ignore the simulations a bit and prioritize Xander Schauffele and Paul Casey. Schauffele has three no-cut wins to his name, and Casey has been playing good golf on the European Tour of late -- and is an accurate golfer who should be able to pick apart this new course. Starting the card lower with Xander or Casey makes sense this week, so that's my preference.
Tommy Fleetwood and Gary Woodland both pop with positive expected value, as does Shane Lowry. Fleetwood and Woodland pair well with a more balanced betting card if you avoid the chalk (McIlroy and Thomas) and prioritize the second tier -- or even just start here.
Chez Reavie and Matthew Fitzpatrick grade out differently in terms of expected value -- with Reavie being overpriced -- but each are names I want pieces of this week. Reavie leads the field in accuracy over the past 50 rounds, according to FantasyNational, and Fitzpatrick has great adjusted strokes gained splits, according to datagolf.
I'd be remiss if I did not point out that Shugo Imahira and Ryo Ishikawa each rank top-13 in adjusted stroke average since August. They play primarily in Japan, and Ishikawa in particular seems like a strong punt play in a field in which there aren't many.