GOLF

Gdula's Golf Simulations: The Memorial Tournament

Which golfers are rating out as the most likely to win at Muirfield Village this week, according to tens of thousands of 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 Memorial Tournament, according to the models.

Golfer Simulated
Win%
Simulated
Top-10%
Simulated
Made Cut%
FanDuel
Sportsbook
Win Odds
Jon Rahm6.0%33.9%86.3%+1000
Xander Schauffele5.5%30.8%84.9%+2000
Justin Thomas4.6%28.2%83.9%+1600
Viktor Hovland4.4%29.3%84.1%+1600
Jordan Spieth4.3%26.6%82.5%+1600
Collin Morikawa3.8%27.8%83.1%+1600
Corey Conners3.2%26.1%82.5%+3300
Matthew Fitzpatrick3.1%24.1%81.4%+3300
Tony Finau3.1%23.9%80.3%+2700
Patrick Cantlay3.0%22.8%79.8%+2000
Patrick Reed2.8%22.6%79.8%+3400
Bryson DeChambeau2.8%21.8%79.6%+1400
Rory McIlroy2.3%18.9%77.0%+1400
Louis Oosthuizen2.3%19.4%77.4%+4100
Hideki Matsuyama2.2%19.2%77.1%+2200
Scottie Scheffler1.9%18.6%76.5%+4100
Joaquin Niemann1.7%17.1%75.6%+3400
Cameron Smith1.6%16.2%75.0%+5000
Brendon Todd1.6%15.5%74.5%+9000
Russell Henley1.5%16.2%74.5%+6000
Cameron Tringale1.5%13.9%72.7%+10000
Charley Hoffman1.3%14.6%72.9%+4200
Keegan Bradley1.3%14.5%73.7%+4500
Billy Horschel1.3%14.1%73.1%+5500
Sungjae Im1.3%13.8%72.4%+5000
Kevin Streelman1.2%15.8%74.1%+5000
Emiliano Grillo1.2%13.1%71.1%+5000
Sam Burns1.1%11.3%68.7%+4100
Christiaan Bezuidenhout1.1%12.1%70.1%+8000
Si Woo Kim1.0%11.9%69.4%+10000
Shane Lowry1.0%11.4%69.7%+3100
Jason Day0.9%11.1%69.3%+5500
Talor Gooch0.9%9.8%67.1%+15000
Chris Kirk0.8%10.0%67.1%+10000
Matt Kuchar0.7%10.1%67.9%+10000
Doug Ghim0.7%9.7%66.7%+12000
Bubba Watson0.7%9.5%66.2%+6500
Stewart Cink0.7%10.3%67.7%+10000
Matt Wallace0.7%9.1%66.2%+8000
Matt Jones0.7%9.1%66.5%+10000
Adam Scott0.7%7.8%63.7%+5500
Gary Woodland0.6%8.1%64.4%+5500
Harold Varner III0.6%8.9%65.8%+12000
Max Homa0.6%7.9%63.3%+10000
Lanto Griffin0.6%8.1%64.6%+15000
Patton Kizzire0.5%7.4%62.8%+10000
Carlos Ortiz0.5%7.7%63.9%+15000
Rickie Fowler0.5%6.9%61.4%+6000
Alex Noren0.5%7.0%62.4%+15000
Aaron Wise0.5%7.3%62.7%+9000


The models are pretty split on Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele, but the odds are quite different on FanDuel Sportsbook. Rahm is listed at +1000, and Schauffele is double that at +2000. For that reason, Schauffele makes a lot of sense, given the form over the past year.

We see some value emerge in the low 30s with Matt Fitzpatrick (+3300), Corey Conners (+3300), and Patrick Reed (+3400), according to the model. The accuracy-heavy course should fit their games, and they're on my radar. Fitzpatrick and Reed have stellar short games. Conners...not so much, but he's one of the best ball-strikers in the field.

A few longer shots I'm eying up and who the models also like include Louis Oosthuizen (+4100), Russell Henley (+6000), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+8000), Brendon Todd (+9000), Cameron Tringale (+10000), and Si Woo Kim (+10000).

I've keyed in on action on Conners, Oosthuizen, Kevin Streelman, Henley, and Tringale.