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Gdula’s Golf Simulations: Zurich Classic

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 Zurich Classic, according to the models.




















































Team Simulated
Win%
Simulated
Top-10%
Simulated
Made Cut%
FanDuel
Sportsbook
Win Odds
Schauffele/Cantlay 12.2% 53.8% 81.0% +700
Rahm/Palmer 10.3% 50.2% 79.9% +700
Watson/Scheffler 4.8% 33.5% 68.7% +1400
Morikawa/Wolff 4.2% 30.2% 67.4% +1400
Finau/Champ 3.9% 29.5% 67.8% +1400
Homa/Gooch 3.7% 28.4% 65.3% +3100
Horschel/Burns 3.5% 28.3% 64.7% +2000
Kirk/Todd 3.5% 29.5% 65.9% +2000
Willett/Hatton 3.0% 26.2% 63.6% +2700
Smith/Leishman 2.8% 26.0% 63.3% +900
Hovland/Ventura 2.7% 26.3% 63.9% +3400
Oosthuizen/Schwartzel 2.6% 23.2% 59.9% +3300
Frittelli/Streelman 2.6% 23.1% 61.5% +3400
Dahmen/Griffin 2.2% 21.5% 59.7% +4100
Bradley/Steele 2.1% 21.1% 60.2% +2900
Grace/Varner III 1.9% 20.1% 57.6% +2900
Kokrak/Perez 1.8% 22.5% 61.2% +6500
Clark/Rooyen 1.5% 17.5% 55.1% +5500
Im/Hun An 1.4% 18.0% 56.9% +4100
Noren/Norlander 1.4% 17.8% 54.4% +6500
Glover/Reavie 1.4% 17.1% 54.8% +4500
Ghim/Suh 1.4% 17.9% 56.7% +4500
Pieters/Lewis 1.2% 14.2% 52.0% +5500
Garnett/Stallings 1.1% 14.0% 51.5% +15000
Laird/Taylor 1.0% 13.3% 50.1% +8000
NeSmith/Seiffert 1.0% 14.9% 51.8% +10000
Brown/Kisner 1.0% 12.8% 50.6% +5000
Castro/Tringale 0.9% 13.6% 51.9% +5500
Straka/Teater 0.9% 12.6% 49.8% +12000
Sloan/Baddeley 0.9% 10.8% 46.4% +15000
Redman/Ryder 0.9% 12.7% 49.2% +10000
Thompson/Gordon 0.9% 13.0% 50.1% +6500
Knox/Stuard 0.9% 11.8% 47.9% +6500
Rose/Stenson 0.8% 12.4% 48.9% +3100
Piercy/Bhatia 0.8% 12.4% 49.7% +10000
Werenski/Uihlein 0.7% 11.2% 46.9% +9000
Duncan/Schenk 0.7% 11.6% 47.9% +12000
Hadley/Martin 0.7% 11.4% 48.3% +12000
McNealy/Bramlett 0.7% 11.6% 48.0% +8000
McDowell/Wallace 0.7% 11.0% 47.5% +5500
Hojgaard/Taylor 0.6% 9.7% 45.0% +12000
Spaun/Jones 0.6% 9.9% 45.0% +10000
Snedeker/Mitchell 0.6% 8.3% 42.5% +8000
Hubbard/Cappelen 0.5% 7.8% 41.4% +21000
Landry/Cook 0.5% 8.9% 44.3% +15000
Merritt/Streb 0.5% 8.9% 43.8% +15000
Hoffman/Watney 0.5% 6.3% 38.8% +6000
Zhang/Pan 0.5% 8.0% 42.4% +15000


There are two co-favorites this week with Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer — the defending champions — and Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay both at +700 on FanDuel Sportsbook. Both teams rate well in my win simulations:

Both teams are pretty comparable with their statistical profiles and driving archetypes, but Xander and Cantlay rate out better there. They’re a fair bet at +700.

The model is not particularly keen on the other golfers listed near the top of the board until we get to Max Homa and Talor Gooch at +3100. Both golfers are quite similar overall and off the tee, which should allow them to play their games together without massive alterations.

That said, I do like the Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler overlap at +1400.

Teams with longer odds that look promising based on the model and/or the team fit include Jason Kokrak and Pat Perez (+6500), Doc Redman and Sam Ryder (+10000), and Matthew NeSmith and Chase Seiffert (+10000), and Brice Garnett and Scott Stallings (+15000).

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

The post Gdula’s Golf Simulations: Zurich Classic first appeared on SportsGrid.




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