Gdula's Golf Simulations: WGC-Workday Championship

A few players in the field have played The Concession before. Who is rating out best in terms of the win odds?

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 very 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 WGC-Workday Championship, according to the models.

Golfer Simulated
Win Odds
Dustin Johnson10.1%51.7%+600
Xander Schauffele7.3%46.2%+1400
Jon Rahm7.1%43.3%+850
Bryson DeChambeau5.6%40.4%+2000
Daniel Berger4.9%37.5%+3100
Justin Thomas4.6%36.6%+1800
Patrick Cantlay4.4%33.9%+1800
Tyrrell Hatton3.7%31.8%+1800
Tony Finau3.1%28.5%+2000
Patrick Reed2.9%27.7%+3100
Rory McIlroy2.9%26.3%+1600
Viktor Hovland2.7%24.9%+2200
Harris English2.7%27.6%+5500
Webb Simpson2.7%26.2%+2900
Collin Morikawa2.0%22.0%+3400
Matthew Fitzpatrick1.9%23.0%+5000
Scottie Scheffler1.7%19.5%+4100
Joaquin Niemann1.5%19.0%+4500
Brooks Koepka1.4%15.3%+2700
Will Zalatoris1.3%17.9%+5500
Sungjae Im1.3%15.3%+3300
Ryan Palmer1.2%18.0%+8000
Abraham Ancer1.2%16.6%+10000
Hideki Matsuyama1.2%16.7%+5000
Kevin Kisner1.1%17.4%+12000
Adam Scott1.0%14.5%+5000
Cameron Smith1.0%13.7%+4500
Jason Kokrak0.9%13.4%+9000
Louis Oosthuizen0.8%13.2%+6000
Mackenzie Hughes0.8%13.8%+15000
Jason Day0.8%12.2%+5000
Tommy Fleetwood0.8%11.1%+4100
Billy Horschel0.8%13.3%+10000
Brendon Todd0.8%12.6%+15000
Lanto Griffin0.8%12.6%+12000
Sergio Garcia0.7%11.9%+8000
Kevin Na0.7%11.7%+10000
Christiaan Bezuidenhout0.7%11.7%+9000
Bubba Watson0.7%12.4%+8000
Matthew Wolff0.6%10.3%+8000
Carlos Ortiz0.6%9.6%+9000
Max Homa0.6%9.6%+5000
Justin Rose0.5%8.4%+5500
Shane Lowry0.5%8.9%+7000
Matt Kuchar0.5%8.9%+15000
Erik van Rooyen0.5%8.8%+15000
Lee Westwood0.5%8.6%+12000
Gary Woodland0.4%7.2%+12000
Bernd Wiesberger0.3%6.2%+12000
Sebastian J Munoz0.3%7.1%+21000
Marc Leishman0.3%4.1%+8000
Lucas Herbert0.2%5.9%+15000
Robert MacIntyre0.2%3.6%+9000
Victor Perez0.2%3.1%+9000
Rasmus Hojgaard0.2%3.0%+10000
Andy Sullivan0.2%3.5%+12000
Cameron Champ0.2%4.9%+15000
Thomas Detry0.2%2.3%+15000
Laurie Canter0.1%2.3%+15000
Rafa Cabrera Bello0.1%2.6%+15000
David Lipsky0.1%1.7%+21000
Aaron Rai0.1%1.8%+27000
Sami Valimaki0.1%1.8%+21000
Chan Kim0.1%2.4%+32000
Jason Scrivener0.1%1.5%+27000
Wade Ormsby0.0%0.4%+50000
Min Woo Lee0.0%0.1%+42000
Yuki Inamori0.0%0.0%+42000
Danie Van Tonder0.0%0.0%+50000
Brad Kennedy0.0%0.0%+50000
JC Ritchie0.0%0.0%+50000
Trevor Simsby0.0%0.0%+50000

I didn't make any empirical course adjustments for this week because, well, how could I? The Concession hasn't ever hosted a PGA Tour event but did host the 2015 Men's and Women's NCAA championship. Bryson DeChambeau won the 2015 individual event shooting -8. Other golfers who played there and are in this field include Thomas Detry (finished 3rd), Jon Rahm (22nd), Scottie Scheffler (33rd), and Xander Schauffele (45th).

With Dustin Johnson sucking up a lot of of the win equity at +600, it actually opens up value for us because the models don't think his win odds are that high (+600 is around 14.3%). Rahm is also overvalued at +850 (which means around 10.5% win odds), per the models.

That makes Schauffele, DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, and Daniel Berger positive values. Schauffele and Thomas are no-cut studs, as well.

Down-the-card values, per the model, include Harris English (+5500), Ryan Palmer (+8000), Abraham Ancer (+10000), and Kevin Kisner (+12000).

Just keep the long shots in check. The past winners at WGC events have been: Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, and Dustin Johnson.

My bets so far include outrights on Justin Thomas, DeChambeau, Webb Simpson, and Matthew Fitzpatrick and top-10s on Harris English and Kisner.