Gdula’s Golf Simulations: WGC-Workday Championship

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%
Simulated
Top-10%
FanDuel
Sportsbook
Win Odds
Dustin Johnson 9.8% 49.0% +600
Xander Schauffele 7.8% 46.5% +1400
Jon Rahm 7.1% 43.6% +850
Bryson DeChambeau 6.2% 42.2% +2000
Justin Thomas 5.7% 39.5% +1800
Daniel Berger 4.4% 37.3% +3100
Patrick Cantlay 4.4% 33.1% +1800
Rory McIlroy 3.7% 28.4% +1600
Tyrrell Hatton 3.2% 31.5% +1800
Tony Finau 2.9% 26.8% +2000
Patrick Reed 2.6% 27.8% +3100
Viktor Hovland 2.6% 23.8% +2200
Harris English 2.5% 27.8% +5500
Webb Simpson 2.3% 26.7% +2900
Collin Morikawa 2.1% 23.0% +3400
Joaquin Niemann 1.9% 19.4% +4500
Scottie Scheffler 1.8% 18.8% +4100
Matthew Fitzpatrick 1.7% 20.6% +5000
Brooks Koepka 1.5% 15.2% +2700
Will Zalatoris 1.4% 16.9% +5500
Hideki Matsuyama 1.4% 16.9% +5000
Adam Scott 1.3% 14.8% +5000
Abraham Ancer 1.3% 17.2% +10000
Ryan Palmer 1.2% 18.5% +8000
Kevin Kisner 1.1% 17.5% +12000
Bubba Watson 1.0% 13.1% +8000
Jason Kokrak 0.9% 13.3% +9000
Sungjae Im 0.9% 15.3% +3300
Sergio Garcia 0.9% 12.1% +8000
Mackenzie Hughes 0.9% 13.5% +15000
Cameron Smith 0.8% 12.2% +4500
Brendon Todd 0.8% 12.9% +15000
Lanto Griffin 0.8% 11.9% +12000
Kevin Na 0.8% 11.8% +10000
Billy Horschel 0.8% 13.7% +10000
Louis Oosthuizen 0.8% 13.0% +6000
Carlos Ortiz 0.7% 10.4% +9000
Matthew Wolff 0.7% 11.2% +8000
Tommy Fleetwood 0.6% 11.2% +4100
Jason Day 0.6% 12.0% +5000
Matt Kuchar 0.6% 9.0% +15000
Christiaan Bezuidenhout 0.6% 11.7% +9000
Max Homa 0.5% 8.2% +5000
Gary Woodland 0.5% 7.9% +12000
Shane Lowry 0.4% 9.5% +7000
Erik van Rooyen 0.4% 8.9% +15000
Marc Leishman 0.4% 3.8% +8000
Sebastian Munoz 0.3% 6.8% +21000
Justin Rose 0.3% 8.0% +5500
Lee Westwood 0.3% 8.5% +12000
Bernd Wiesberger 0.3% 6.4% +12000
Cameron Champ 0.2% 4.7% +15000
Lucas Herbert 0.2% 6.0% +15000
Rasmus Hojgaard 0.1% 3.0% +10000
Andy Sullivan 0.1% 3.5% +12000
Robert MacIntyre 0.1% 3.7% +9000
Thomas Detry 0.1% 2.3% +15000
Chan Kim 0.1% 2.4% +32000
Victor Perez 0.1% 3.0% +9000
Laurie Canter 0.1% 2.3% +15000
Rafa Cabrera Bello 0.1% 2.6% +15000
David Lipsky 0.1% 1.7% +21000
Aaron Rai 0.1% 1.8% +27000
Sami Valimaki 0.0% 1.9% +21000
Jason Scrivener 0.0% 1.5% +27000
Wade Ormsby 0.0% 0.4% +50000
Min Woo Lee 0.0% 0.1% +42000
Trevor Simsby 0.0% 0.0% +50000
Yuki Inamori 0.0% 0.0% +42000
Brad Kennedy 0.0% 0.0% +50000
Danie Van Tonder 0.0% 0.0% +50000
JC Ritchie 0.0% 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.

I’ll update this with my picks closer to Thursday.