GOLF

Gdula's Golf Simulations: Houston Open

In a field without golf's biggest names, which golfers are most likely to win the Houston 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.

The Process

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 this week's Houston Open.

Top Win Odds

Golfer Wins FanDuel
Sportsbook
Golfer Wins FanDuel
Sportsbook
Henrik Stenson 4.4% +850 Scottie Scheffler 2.6% +2200
Jhonattan Vegas 2.3% +6000 Russell Knox 2.3% +3400
Brian Harman 1.9% +2200 Denny McCarthy 1.9% +4000
Kevin Chappell 1.7% +4800 Lanto Griffin 1.7% +5500
Russell Henley 1.7% +2600 Michael Thompson 1.6% +6500
Daniel Berger 1.6% +2700 Keegan Bradley 1.4% +4800
Robby Shelton IV 1.4% +6000 Carlos Ortiz 1.3% +5000
Roger Sloan 1.3% +10000 Nick Taylor 1.3% +4200
Pat Perez 1.3% +2900 Zhang Xinjun 1.3% +5500
Talor Gooch 1.3% +10000 Matt Jones 1.3% +4500
Johnson Wagner 1.2% +10000 Juan Sebastian Munoz 1.2% +4000
Matt Every 1.1% +8000 Sam Burns 1.1% +7000
Beau Hossler 1.1% +4800 Bronson Burgoon 1.1% +4200
Brian Gay 1.1% +6500 Grayson Murray 1.1% +10000
Cameron Tringale 1.1% +4800 Harris English 1.0% +4000
Andrew Landry 1.0% +5500 Hank Lebioda 1.0% +12000
Mark Hubbard 1.0% +10000 Sepp Straka 1.0% +10000
Luke List 1.0% +4200 Tom Hoge 1.0% +8000


It's a pretty rough field, and that makes it tough to pinpoint specific values. Nearly every golfer has similar win odds, so it's a week to bank on longer shots and to soak up the value.

Henrik Stenson is the outlier. He's been the best golfer in the field in 2019 by adjusted stroke average. However, at +850 on FanDuel Sportsbook, he's a tough back. He'd need to be around 10% likely to win to consider him at that price.

After Stenson, it's really anyone's event in terms of the win odds. Nobody else is shorter than +1800 (Cameron Champ).

Ignoring value, Scottie Scheffler (+2200) is easy to consider the top play on the board even at just 2.6% win odds. His first win is just a matter of time, and his putter has been ice cold.

Jhonattan Vegas keeps popping in my win simulations and is a positive ball-striker relative to the field, and he's also just a super volatile golfer, which is necessary for reaching the high end of variance for a win.

Though it would require two wins in a month, Sebastian Munoz (+4000) outperformed those odds in the simulations.

Keegan Bradley is interesting at +4800, but he is on Bermuda greens, his worst putting surface (and that's saying a lot). Again, though, he's a volatile option who can put it together for four days, so he jumps up in the win odds relative to the steadier golfers of the same skill level.

Kevin Chappell (+4800) offers positive expected value, yet his approach numbers are concerning in 2019. It's a rough week in a field like this.

If picking any of the +4800 golfers, I'd go with Cameron Tringale.

This may be the best event of the year in terms of just peppering longshots, as the win equity is so evenly dispersed throughout the field.

Talor Gooch (+10000) and Tom Hoge (+8000) are a great approach players relative to the rest of the field. Sepp Straka (+10000) is a plus ball-striker both off the tee and with approach and is someone to consider penciling in, despite five straight missed cuts.