Gdula's Golf Simulations: Valero Texas Open

Only a few huge names are in the field this week, so how does that affect the win simulations?

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 very easily adjust for course fit. 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 Valero Texas Open, according to the models.

Golfer Simulated
Made Cut%
Win Odds
Tony Finau6.4%33.8%87.5%+1300
Scottie Scheffler3.8%24.7%81.5%+1500
Corey Conners3.7%25.2%81.0%+2100
Hideki Matsuyama3.1%20.7%77.2%+1900
Ryan Palmer2.9%21.4%77.9%+2800
Jordan Spieth2.6%17.0%73.6%+1100
Abraham Ancer2.5%19.6%76.6%+1900
Cameron Tringale2.5%18.4%75.5%+3300
Sam Burns2.3%18.3%74.7%+4700
Siwoo Kim2.2%18.0%74.5%+3300
Lanto Griffin2.1%17.4%74.5%+4700
Chris Kirk1.8%14.8%70.5%+4300
Charley Hoffman1.8%15.1%71.0%+3100
Zach Johnson1.8%15.6%72.1%+6000
Brendan Steele1.7%14.2%70.2%+3100
Harold Varner III1.6%13.2%68.4%+7000
Cameron Davis1.5%13.2%68.4%+4300
John Huh1.3%12.1%66.9%+8000
Matt Wallace1.3%11.9%67.0%+7500
Henrik Norlander1.3%11.0%65.0%+15000
Denny McCarthy1.2%11.5%66.6%+9500
Charles Howell III1.2%12.0%66.4%+7500
Rickie Fowler1.2%11.1%64.6%+6500
Sebastian J Munoz1.2%11.7%66.1%+9000
Adam Hadwin1.2%11.2%66.1%+6500
Patton Kizzire1.1%12.3%67.9%+13000
Matt Kuchar1.1%10.0%63.7%+4300
Erik van Rooyen1.1%10.9%64.7%+9500
Keegan Bradley1.0%10.8%65.0%+4700
Doug Ghim1.0%10.8%64.7%+8500
Jim Furyk0.9%8.9%61.7%+15000
Peter Malnati0.8%9.2%61.6%+19000
Matthew NeSmith0.8%9.3%61.7%+11000
Lucas Glover0.8%9.8%63.9%+11000
Sepp Straka0.8%9.5%62.5%+8000
Tom Hoge0.8%8.9%61.1%+13000
Phil Mickelson0.8%8.0%58.9%+9000
Charl Schwartzel0.8%9.0%61.1%+19000
Pat Perez0.8%9.1%61.2%+19000
Aaron Wise0.7%8.8%61.3%+7500
Joel Dahmen0.7%8.0%60.3%+7000
Ryan Moore0.7%6.3%54.4%+6500
Harry Higgs0.7%7.4%58.3%+8000
Martin Laird0.7%7.1%57.5%+13000
Doc Redman0.7%8.5%60.6%+19000
Cameron Percy0.7%7.8%59.2%+19000
Gary Woodland0.6%8.2%60.2%+8000
Bo Hoag0.6%8.1%59.9%+23000
Chase Seiffert0.6%7.2%57.3%+15000
Branden Grace0.6%7.9%59.9%+4700
Patrick Rodgers0.6%7.5%57.9%+19000
Scott Stallings0.6%7.7%60.2%+19000
Andrew Putnam0.6%7.5%58.8%+6500
Camilo Villegas0.6%6.9%55.6%+31000
Cameron Champ0.6%7.2%57.9%+14000
Adam Long0.6%7.7%58.4%+9500
Wesley Bryan0.6%6.8%57.0%+23000
Roger Sloan0.6%8.1%59.5%+19000
Jhonattan Vegas0.6%7.9%58.7%+9500
Adam Schenk0.6%6.6%56.3%+23000
Brice Garnett0.6%6.9%57.7%+19000
Brian Stuard0.5%6.2%54.8%+23000
Russell Knox0.5%6.6%55.9%+15000
Tom Lewis0.5%6.7%56.3%+19000
Danny Willett0.5%5.9%53.8%+8000
Luke List0.5%7.4%58.1%+15000
Rory Sabbatini0.5%7.6%58.6%+15000
Sam Ryder0.5%6.4%55.0%+9500
Bernd Wiesberger0.5%7.5%58.2%+15000
Ryan Armour0.5%6.2%55.3%+31000
Kristoffer Ventura0.5%6.3%55.3%+36000
Byeong Hun An0.5%5.8%54.1%+7500
Nick Taylor0.5%7.0%58.0%+15000
Brandon Hagy0.5%5.8%54.3%+19000

The models are prioritizing Tony Finau for his long-term form compared to the rest of this field, but with his odds down to +1300, he no longer is showing positive expected value. Scottie Scheffler isn't getting an arbitrary data bump for playing in Texas or for making the WGC-Match Play finals, so he looks a little overvalued, as well. Jordan Spieth's trending up quickly but shouldn't be the favorite.

The top of the board overall is pretty tight, making this a bit of a tricky week.

There is positive value on Sam Burns at +4700 at a bermuda course (where he putts well) that can reward a distance advantage. Lanto Griffin, a winner in Texas at the Houston Open, is valued exactly right at +4700, per the models. Zach Johnson, a winner in Fort Worth in 2012, is also rightly valued at +6000.

It may be a week to focus more on this middle tier. The field is good enough not to chase only long shots, but it's no guarantee that the winner comes from the favorites.

I've settled on outrights on Sam Burns, Zach Johnson, and John Huh. With some first-round leader props on Byeong-Hun An, Luke List, and Charl Schwartzel.

And in case you didn't know, there is an LPGA major this week, the ANA Inspiration, for which I posted simulations and picks.