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Opinion & Analysis

The Golf Engine predicts the top 25 finishers at The Open Championship

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The field for the 147th British Open is set at the historic Carnoustie Golf Links. The Golf Engine modeled over 1,500 statistics tracked by the PGA Tour for every tournament dating back to 2004. We looked at how each stat contributes to what we can expect from players on this stage, at this tournament. It’s a complex web of information that can only be properly analyzed by a machine, yet yields some objectively surprising results.

This year’s British Open is no exception as the model is calling for Webb Simpson (125/1 odds) to make a run into the top 10 at least.

Some surprises:

Back-to-back U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka (22/1) inside the top 5.

Webb Simpson (125/1) and Phil Mickelson (66/1) inside the top 10.

Emiliano Grillo (100/1) inside the top 15.

Kevin Na (175/1), Luke List (125/1), and Ryan Moore (150/1) inside top the 25.

Perhaps just as surprising are the golfers that may under-perform this week. Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood don’t make the top 10 cutoff. Alex Noren, Francesco Molinari who finished T2 at TPC Deere Run last week, and Sergio Garcia are all projected outside of our top 25.

Notable left-outs:

Rory McIlroy (16/1) and Tommy Fleetwood (20/1) finishing outside the top 10.

Alex Noren (30/1), Francesco Molinari (33//1), and Sergio Garcia (28/1) all finishing outside the top 25.

A few more points of note:

Top 5

It’s fascinating that Dustin Johnson gets the call for top dawg from both the oddsmakers and the model. No question he is the best player in the world right now, but it’s been a few years since DJ really contended (2011) in this tournament — and at a different course — Royal St George’s. He does have a pair of Top 10’s in 2012 and 2016 and has made the cut every year since 2009 (his first Open).

Justin Rose, not that his name doesn’t come up every year for this tournament, just that his style of play is generally considered to be different than the players on either side of him (Johnson and Koepka).

Speaking of Koepka, few are calling for him to win at Carnoustie though he does shows up inside the top 5 here…

Jordan Spieth, although winning this tournament last year – has not put up the best numbers of his already memorable career the past few months. Frankly I’m a little surprised the numbers bear this out…

Perhaps the third least surprising name to see on this list (aside from Johnson and Rose) is Rickie Fowler, aka: Mr. Consistency, aka: the Perennial Contender, aka: always the Bridesmaid. Rickie almost always brings his A-game, and the data suggests it suits this course well. Curious to see if this is the year his major championship drought comes to an end.

Top 10

Webb Simpson might be the most surprising pick on this list. Clearly the model likes something about his game this year and the way he is set up for this tournament. A career-low 61 to open at The Greenbrier (his last start), T10 at the U.S. Open a month ago and earning his 5th career victory at The PLAYERS were each separated by missed cuts.

Top 25

For a guy with short odds, Rory McIlroy to be projected outside of the top 10, which really speaks to the consistency (or lack thereof) of his game this season.

Other notables:

No love from the model for Matt Kuchar, Scotsman Russel Knox, Adam Scott, Ian Poulter, or Louis Oosthuizen.

Projected Rank Player Odds
1 Dustin Johnson 12/1
2 Justin Rose 16/1
3 Brooks Koepka 22/1
4 Jordan Spieth 20/1
5 Rickie Fowler 16/1
6 Webb Simpson 125/1
7 Justin Thomas 22/1
8 Jason Day 33/1
9 Phil Mickelson 66/1
10 Jon Rahm 20/1
11 Henrik Stenson 28/1
12 Emiliano Grillo 100/1
13 Paul Casey 40/1
14 Patrick Reed 35/1
15 Rory McIlroy 16/1
16 Tommy Fleetwood 20/1
17 Bubba Watson 80/1
18 Tiger Woods 22/1
19 Kevin Na 175/1
20 Hideki Matsuyama 50/1
21 Bryson DeChambeau 125/1
22 Luke List 125/1
23 Ryan Moore 150/1
24 Tony Finau 100/1
25 Charles Howell III 500/1
Odds Courtesy of Bovada

View the projected finish of the entire 2018 British Open Field.

How the Golf Engine makes its picks

In golf, a pro matches up as much with the golf-course as another competitor. Which is why any attempt to predict the outcome of a golf tournament, must take into account the nuances of the course. Beyond conjecture made by the golf pundits, analyzing past and present data through the use of math can more accurately project future performance.

In this model, we use machine learning to evaluate 1,500 different statistics for every golfer on the PGA Tour over each tournament since 2004. The analysis of this massive dataset allows gives us an opportunity to predict players that are sitting on low round scores.

The machine learns how these statistics can become a unique strength or glaring weakness for each golfer by comparing tens of thousands of different combinations and separating the patterns from the noise. The resulting ‘model’ is able to ‘deep dive’ and determine when to expect low rounds from a pro, given their unique style of play. These calculations are next to impossible to do quickly and certainly without personal and subjective biases, until now.

Learn more about the author, Pat Ross.

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4 Comments

  1. GolfnRide

    Jul 23, 2018 at 1:51 am

    Umm, back to the drawing board Golf Engine…

  2. Jamie

    Jul 18, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Prediction: Stenson will destroy the course with the Graf Blue Diablo.

  3. Al

    Jul 18, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Stats from the PGA Tour…so what about the European tour

  4. Jim McPherson

    Jul 18, 2018 at 1:47 am

    So did the person that runs this “golf engine” put their money where it’s mouth is?

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19th Hole

GolfWRXers Vote: Best U.S. Open venue showdown

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Following on from our Golf Movie Madness contest which saw GolfWRXers vote “Caddyshack” the best golf film ever, we thought it was time to up the ante and find out the GolfWRX consensus on one of the more debated subjects in golf—U.S. Open host venues.

We’re matching off the last 16 U.S. Open venues to find out what GolfWRXers think is the ultimate U.S. Open course.

As with our Golf Movie Madness contest, we’ll leave voting open for 48 hours for the first eight head-to-heads. At that time, we’ll determine the winners and matchups for the next four games.

So get voting below and let’s find out who GolfWRXers crown as the ultimate U.S. Open course!

 

*Years hosted, winners and avg. winning score from 1950 onwards*

Game 1

Pebble Beach

  • Years Hosted: 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
  • Winners: Nicklaus (+2), Watson (-6), Kite (-3), Woods (-12), McDowell (E), Woodland (-13)
  • Avg. winning score: -5.33

Torrey Pines SC

  • Years Hosted: 2008
  • Winners: Woods (-1)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

U.S. Open Game 1

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Game 2

Oakland Hills SC

  • Years Hosted: 1951, 1961, 1985,1996
  • Winners: Hogan (+7), Littler (+1), North (-1), Jones (-2)
  • Avg. winning score: +1.25

Winged Foot GC

  • Years Hosted: 1959, 1974, 1984, 2006
  • Winners: Casper (+2), Irwin (+7), Zoeller (-7), Ogilvy (+5)
  • Avg. winning score: +1.75

U.S. Open Game 2

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Game 3

Chambers Bay

  • Years Hosted: 2015
  • Winners: Spieth (-5)
  • Avg. winning score: -5

Baltusrol GC

  • Years Hosted: 1954, 1967, 1980, 1993
  • Winners: Furgol (+4), Nicklaus (-5), Nicklaus (-8), Janzen (-8)
  • Avg. winning score: -4.25

U.S. Open Game 3

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Game 4

Pinehurst Resort (No 2.)

  • Years Hosted: 1995, 2005, 2014
  • Winners: Stewart (-1), Campbell (E), Kaymer (-9)
  • Avg. winning score: -3.33

Olympic Club

  • Years Hosted: 1955, 1966, 1987, 1998, 2012
  • Winners: Fleck (+7), Casper (-2), Simpson (-3), Janzen (E), W. Simpson (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: +0.75

U.S. Open Game 4

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Game 5

Oakmont CC

  • Years Hosted: 1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016
  • Winners: Hogan (-5), Nicklaus (-1), Miller (-5), Nelson (-4), Els (-5), Cabrera (+5), Johnson (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -2.71

Bethpage Black

  • Years Hosted: 2002, 2009
  • Winners: Woods (-3), Glover (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -3.5

U.S. Open Game 5

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Game 6

Southern Hils CC

  • Years Hosted: 1958, 1977, 2001
  • Winners: Bolt (+3), Green (-2), Goosen (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

Olympia Fields CC

  • Years Hosted: 2003
  • Winners: Furyk (-8)
  • Avg. winning score: -8

U.S. Open Game 6

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Game 7

Merion GC

  • Years Hosted: 1950, 1971, 1981, 2013
  • Winners: Hogan (+7), Trevino (E), Graham (-7), Rose (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: (+0.25)

Erin Hills

  • Years Hosted: 2017
  • Winners: Koepka (-16)
  • Avg. winning score: -16

U.S. Open Game 7

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Game 8

Congressional CC

  • Years Hosted: 1964, 1997, 2011
  • Winners: Venturi (-2), Els (-4), McIlroy (-16)
  • Avg. winning score: -7.33

Shinnecock Hills GC

  • Years Hosted: 1986, 1995, 2004, 2018
  • Winners: Floyd (-1), Pavin (E), Goosen (-4), Koepka (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

U.S. Open Game 8

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Opinion & Analysis

Retro golf video game review: CyberTiger for N64

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Being stuck at home indoors as spring officially arrives stinks—period. Now with that in mind, we also hope that everyone out there, along with your family and friends, are healthy, happy, and safe.

Like others around the world, we at GolfWRX are doing our part to stay home and catch up on both television and video games while also supplying you with the most interesting ways to keep engaged in the game we love. Speaking of video games, one of my all-time favorite systems is the Nintendo 64 and to me, it is still home to one of the most fun (albeit not highly ranked) golf games of all time: CyberTiger.

Cyber Tiger for Nintedo 64 was released in 1999 and fits securely in the category of arcadey and fun golf. Compared to other N64 games released around the same time period, the graphics leave something to be desired, but considering the style and forgiveness of the gameplay nearly 30 years later, we can let it slide.

Gameplay

The gameplay is simple and overall very forgiving for any level of gamer. The only difficult thing for some to get a handle on right off the bat is shots around the greens. You are only given the option to either chip, pitch, or attempt a very limited full shot—it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it but starting out its easy to see how this part of the gameplay can be frustrating.

Game modes are as straightforward as you can imagine: stroke play, match play, tournament mode, practice range, and Tiger Challenge. The latter being one of the most fun in multiplayer since you get to remove a club from your opponent’s bag if you win the hole.

Characters

Options here are extremely limited and include—Tiger Woods, Mark O’Meara—no seriously that’s it for actual tour golfers. Beyond those two, you are given the option of Lil’ Tiger (Teenage Tiger), Lil’ Mark (Teenage Mark), and then a handful of no-name brandless figures, including Chip and Mia. One thing to note is there are a number of ridiculous characters easily unlockable using cheat codes, but for what it’s worth, playing as a teenage Tiger is still a lot of fun. (Hint: UFO)

Courses

Since this is a cartridge Nintendo 64 game, memory is at a premium and courses are limited. There was licensing in place from the PGA Tour which allows for a “Best of TPC” composite course as one of the initial options and features a selection of holes at TPC Sawgrass.  Beyond that many are hard to recognize in the hole-by-hole setting of the game.

Not to fret though, there is a total of five courses in the game, which can also be unlocked using cheat codes easily found online. I realize five courses seem beyond limited in today’s world, but they offer enough variety and fun that whether playing alone or against a friend it never feels overly repetitive.

Overall

If you happen to find yourself with a few hours to kill and have a Nintendo 64 (or an emulator), I highly recommend finding a copy of Cyber Tiger and taking your best shot at a few tournaments or playing against a friend. If nothing else, it might take you back to when you were 14 and had nothing else to do on a rainy day when you couldn’t make it to the course.

 

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Podcasts

TG2: Knudson’s new driver and boutique vs. big manufacturer clubs

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New SIM Max driver is finally here and Knudson tosses an old faithful shaft in it. New irons should show up this week and talk about how clubs from “boutique” companies stack up against the big manufacturers.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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