Betting stats, statistical modeling strategy

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Having successfully defended his RBC Canadian Open title, Rory McIlroy will arrive at this week’s U.S. Open as the consensus betting favorite.

McIlroy (+1100), a four-time major winner, leads a star-studded field into the year’s third major at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. Following closely on the odds board for the venue’s fifth U.S. Open are defending champion Jon Rahm, 2022 PGA champion Justin Thomas and 2022 Masters winner Scottie Scheffler (+1400).

We’ll have plenty of picks in the days to come, but we begin as always with our key betting stats and statistical modeling strategy for the event. This week, I’ve identified 11 individual measures — six of which garner at least 10 percent emphasis — that should inform success at The Country Club.

Before we dive into those stats, though, it’s worth noting I’ve added two qualifiers — 1) “difficult” scoring relative to par on courses and 2) courses that feature a par-70 set up — to help further refine the results. With that in mind, let’s dive in.



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2022 US Open advanced stats and projection

Key Stat #1 – Fairways Gained (10 percent emphasis)

Correlated Stat – Good Drives Gained (8 percent emphasis)

The Country Club will feature tight fairways with extremely thick rough on virtually every hole, so finding the short grass will be critical.

Whereas these two metrics were flipped last week at the RBC Canadian Open, I don’t expect you’ll see players gain good drives as frequently from the rough this week. So, although it’s not a complete 180-degree change, I’m opting to flip the overall emphasis percentages this week.

Here are the leaders in Fairways Gained over the last 24 qualifying rounds:

  1. Brian Stuard (+50000)
  2. Jim Furyk (+100000)
  3. Joel Dahmen (+30000)
  4. Corey Conners (+6600)
  5. Sungjae Im (+4000)

Odds provided by BetMGM

Key Stat #2 – Strokes-Gained: Approach (22 percent emphasis)

I can’t stress this enough — the greens at The Country Club are absolutely tiny.

Based on my research into the course, the greens at this track are, on average, only 4,300 square feet. That runs about 2,500 square feet smaller than at the average tour stop. Plus, as I was able to glean from the Instagram of Ted Scott, Scottie Scheffler’s caddie, even some good shots will be punished here.

Although we won’t see that on every hole, that does help inform my belief that approach play will be paramount in deciding the winner. That’s backed up by datagolf.com, which suggests there’s a 61 percent correlation between SG: approach and finishing position at the U.S. Open.

Here are the SG: approach leaders over the last 24 qualifying rounds:

  1. Collin Morikawa (+2900)
  2. Dustin Johnson (+4400)
  3. Thomas Pieters (+21000)
  4. Cameron Smith (+2000)
  5. Kevin Na (+22000)

Odds provided by FanDuel

Collin Morikawa walks to the second green during the third round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia.
Collin Morikawa walks to the second green during the third round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia.
Getty Images

Key Stat #3 – Greens in Regulation Gained (10 percent emphasis)

Correlated Stats – Strokes-Gained: Around the Green (5 percent emphasis)

Perhaps I’m oversimplifying this tournament a bit, but the next logical step in this model is to factor in players that can simply hit a lot of greens.

Ideally, these players would also be able to gain on the field with their approaches, but I simultaneously don’t want to discount the fact these greens will be a challenge just to hit. As a result, I’m placing a good amount of emphasis on greens in regulation gained.

Plus, there’s a strong correlation (somewhat expectedly) between hitting greens and winning the tournament. The last four U.S. Open champions – Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland and Brooks Koepka – have ranked fourth, fifth, second and second in this category for the week.

That said, I expect there will be plenty of occasions on which players fail to reach the putting surface, so I’m placing a small amount of emphasis on strokes-gained: around the green to cover those misses.

Here are the leaders in GIRs gained over the last 24 qualifying rounds:

  1. Rory McIlroy (+1000)
  2. Thomas Pieters (+15000)
  3. Shane Lowry (+2500)
  4. Jon Rahm (+1400)
  5. Dustin Johnson (+4000)

Odds provided by Caesars Sportsbook

Rory McIlroy celebrates after winning the Canadian Open.
Rory McIlroy celebrates after winning the Canadian Open.
AP

Key Stat #4 – Strokes-Gained: Par 4’s (10 percent emphasis)

Correlated Stat – Strokes-Gained: Par 4’s – 450 to 500 yards (5 percent emphasis)

Given The Country Club will set up as a par-70, this type of hole will feature on 12 of the 18 holes.

Thus, players who have demonstrated a previous ability to score on such holes will be at an advantage this week. That said, the majority of these 12 holes are quite lengthy, meaning players will have to be accurate off the tee with riskier club selections. According to the official scorecard, seven of the 12 par 4’s run between 450 and 500 yards with that number rising up to eight if you count the 510-yard 15th hole.

So, although players could expect some birdie chances on the remaining par 4’s, I’m choosing to place further emphasis on the largest collection.

With that said, here are the leaders in SG: Par 4’s over the last 24 qualifying rounds:

  1. Webb Simpson (+6000)
  2. Hideki Matsuyama (+4000)
  3. Justin Thomas (+800)
  4. Rory McIlroy (+1000)
  5. Dustin Johnson (+2500)

Odds provided by WynnBet


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Key Stats #5 & #6 – Opportunities Gained (10 percent emphasis) & Bogey Avoidance (10 percent emphasis)

Correlated Stats – Putting: 5 to 10 feet (5 percent emphasis), Putting: 10 to 15 feet (5 percent emphasis)

Am I expecting the U.S. Open to be a wide-open birdie fest? Definitely not.

However, my theory behind including the former of the two stats is that players can use those scoring opportunities to help mitigate some of their highest scores. That’s why it’s equally as emphasized as bogey avoidance in the statistical model.

In terms of the latter stat – bogey avoidance – there is historically a robust correlation between performance in that metric and finishing position. All of the last four winners at the U.S. Open ranked either first or second for the week in bogeys avoided. In fact, that statement remains true for all U.S. Open winners dating back to 2014.

Here are the leaders across the last 24 qualifying rounds in both opportunities gained and bogey avoidance:

Opportunities Gained

  1. Dustin Johnson (+3300)
  2. Mito Pereira (+5000)
  3. Cameron Smith (+2000)
  4. Cameron Young (+5000)
  5. Justin Thomas (+1400)

Bogey Avoidance

  1. Shane Lowry (+3300)
  2. Sungjae Im (+4000)
  3. Hideki Matsuyama (+4000)
  4. Harris English (+25000)
  5. Wyndham Clark (+40000)



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