Gdula's Golf Simulations and Betting Picks: Sentry Tournament of Champions

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 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 Sentry Tournament of Champions, according to the models, as well as their FanDuel Sportsbook win odds.

Golfer FanDuel
Salary Win% Top-
10% Made
Cut% FanDuel
Odds Jon Rahm$12,00010.0%56.2%100.0%+800 Patrick Cantlay$11,2008.9%53.7%100.0%+1400 Bryson DeChambeau$11,6007.1%47.4%100.0%+1100 Justin Thomas$11,9005.8%45.8%100.0%+800 Cameron Smith$10,7005.7%44.6%100.0%+2000 Jordan Spieth$10,9005.0%48.5%100.0%+2000 Viktor Hovland$11,4004.9%41.4%100.0%+1100 Collin Morikawa$11,7004.5%34.0%100.0%+1000 Xander Schauffele$11,5004.3%39.2%100.0%+1200 Daniel Berger$10,5004.2%39.9%100.0%+2200 Sam Burns$11,1004.1%37.6%100.0%+1600 Tony Finau$10,0003.3%33.8%100.0%+2700 Talor Gooch$9,4002.8%30.8%100.0%+4100 Abraham Ancer$10,1002.5%29.3%100.0%+2900 Sungjae Im$10,4002.4%27.9%100.0%+2200 Jason Kokrak$9,3002.4%28.4%100.0%+3300 Marc Leishman$9,6002.0%24.4%100.0%+3300 Hideki Matsuyama$10,8001.9%25.5%100.0%+2000 Brooks Koepka$10,2001.9%26.6%100.0%+2900 Harris English$9,7001.8%24.5%100.0%+3300 Seamus Power$9,1001.6%22.2%100.0%+5000 Kevin Na$9,0001.5%23.7%100.0%+6500 Patrick Reed$9,9001.4%20.8%100.0%+2700 Billy Horschel$8,8001.2%19.1%100.0%+6500 Max Homa$8,5001.0%20.1%100.0%+8000 Branden Grace$8,1000.9%14.4%100.0%+10000 Stewart Cink$7,0000.8%13.7%100.0%+21000 Matt Jones$7,2000.8%14.7%100.0%+15000 Kyoung-hoon Lee$7,5000.7%14.9%100.0%+12000 Erik van Rooyen$7,3000.6%11.6%100.0%+13000 Siwoo Kim$8,6000.6%11.7%100.0%+8000 Joel Dahmen$7,4000.6%11.2%100.0%+12000 Lucas Herbert$7,9000.5%13.8%100.0%+10000 Cameron Davis$7,7000.5%12.2%100.0%+12000 Lucas Glover$7,1000.4%9.5%100.0%+21000 Garrick Higgo$8,0000.4%9.3%100.0%+10000 Phil Mickelson$7,8000.3%7.4%100.0%+12000 Cameron Champ$8,9000.1%5.3%100.0%+6500 Kevin Kisner$8,2000.1%5.1%100.0%+10000

Both of the co-favorites -- Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas at +800 -- are overvalued, per the model, and there looks to be some plus value on Patrick Cantlay (+1400), Cameron Smith (+2000), and Jordan Spieth (+2000) as a result of most of the other favorites being too short on the odds board.

If you look back at the past winners here, you'll talk yourself out of long-shot bets and reserve those sneaky names for top 10s. We've had Harris English, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Patrick Reed win the past seven of these.

So that's why I'm focused on Cantlay and Smith primarily at the top.

Daniel Berger (+2200) is a pretty fair value, as is Tony Finau (+2700), though I'm personally considering going with Brooks Koepka (+2900) in hopes of a hot start to the 2022 season on someone who seems to be getting healthier.

Without longshot bets drawing my attention, I'll be looking for top-10 plays on any or all of Jason Kokrak (+3300 to win; +240 to finish top-10), Talor Gooch (+4100; +240), Max Homa (+8000; +320), and Kevin Na (+6500; +360).