Gdula's Golf Simulations: Farmers Insurance Open
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 American Express.
|Rory McIlroy||16.1%||+600||Jon Rahm||9.4%||+800|
|Xander Schauffele||6.3%||+1800||Hideki Matsuyama||4.8%||+1800|
|Tiger Woods||4.7%||+1000||Justin Rose||4.3%||+1800|
|Gary Woodland||3.4%||+2200||Rickie Fowler||3.0%||+2700|
|Patrick Reed||2.7%||+2700||Sungjae Im||1.9%||+3100|
|Tony Finau||1.9%||+2900||Jason Day||1.9%||+2200|
|Jordan Spieth||1.8%||+4500||Collin Morikawa||1.6%||+3100|
|Byeong Hun An||1.6%||+6000||Jason Kokrak||1.4%||+6500|
|Scottie Scheffler||1.3%||+3700||Cameron Smith||1.1%||+3700|
|Marc Leishman||1.1%||+4500||Brandt Snedeker||0.9%||+4500|
|Billy Horschel||0.9%||+5000||Joaquin Niemann||0.8%||+4500|
|Sebastian Munoz||0.8%||+10000||Phil Mickelson||0.8%||+8000|
|Francesco Molinari||0.8%||+5000||Keegan Bradley||0.6%||+9000|
|Jhonattan Vegas||0.7%||+19000||Matthew Wolff||0.7%||+6000|
|Rory Sabbatini||0.7%||+10000||Russell Knox||0.6%||+10000|
|Ryan Palmer||0.6%||+7000||Max Homa||0.6%||+26000|
|Lanto Griffin||0.5%||+7000||Carlos Ortiz||0.5%||+15000|
|Dylan Frittelli||0.5%||+10000||Sunghoon Kang||0.5%||+21000|
Rory McIlroy (+600 on FanDuel Sportsbook) is a heavy favorite despite a pretty loaded field at the top. McIlroy has the distance to dominate Torrey Pines and finished fifth here last year. McIlroy's expected win percentage is about as high as a golfer's gets in a full field like this. Despite the +600 number, McIlroy actually has positive expected value on his name on FanDuel Sportsbook.
Xander Schauffele (+1800) also has the distance advantage on his side this week and grades out with positive expected value. At +1800, he needs to be at least 5.3% likely to win, and he took home the victory in 6.3% of my simulations. It's not a huge discrepancy, but that's what we get with looking for outright winners.
Actual positive expected value is scarce elsewhere, but we have a lot of borderline break-even opportunities, namely with Hideki Matsuyama (+1800), Rickie Fowler (+2700), Byeong-Hun An (+6000), and Jason Kokrak (+6500).
Longshots who look like decent stabs include Sebastian Munoz (+10000), Rory Sabbatini (+10000), and Carlos Ortiz (+15000), but I'd rather look at top-10 or top-20 bets for them. It's a tough field overall, and Torrey Pines requires a great all-around game, so dark horses are not popping for outright winner bets.
A balanced betting card is looking like the best approach, based on the sims.