Early 2019 British Open Betting, DFS Values: Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson, More

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Photo credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Justin Thomas and Webb Simpson

  • Many people betting the 2019 British Open will lean heavily on name recognition to make their picks.
  • Bryan Mears uses DFS salaries, implied odds to win and proprietary data to find value on this year's British Open field.

There are a lot of correlations in the betting and DFS golf world. For one, odds to win a major are often tied to not just skill, but also public popularity and history at that specific course or event.

That’s the reason for someone like Phil Mickelson (50-1) having higher odds to win the 2019 British Open than, say, Tony Finau (60-1), who is a superior golfer right now.

That’s notable within the DFS world because DraftKings and FanDuel salaries are really tied to a player’s odds to win — which, again, is subject to narratives and popularity rather than, you know, actual golfing ability.

In fact, there’s a 0.88 correlation (0 is no correlation, 1 is perfect correlation) between DraftKings salary and odds to win this year, which is incredibly significant:

That means there’s some significant value to be found in both the betting and DFS markets using a metric like our Long-Term Adjusted Round Score, which I believe is the best catch-all stat in the golf community. In general, a player with a lower LT Adj Rd Score is the superior golfer than one with a higher one.

For reference, there’s a lower 0.59 correlation between DraftKings salary and LT Adj Rd Score, which means in that difference there’s value. Additionally, there’s a 0.38 correlation between odds to win the British Open this year and LT Adj Rd Score. Again: sweet, sweet value.

Using all that data and running some regressions, we can predict based on a player’s LT Adj Rd Score — again, the best proxy for talent — what each golfer’s odds to win and DraftKings salaries should be. Let’s start with betting odds to win.

Best Betting Values for the 2019 British Open

As I wrote about here last year, the best betting values in majors are in the mid-tier. The reason is because the distribution of odds from the favorite to the mid-tier and from the mid-tier to the longshots don’t shift from tournament to tournament — but the talent of the players certainly do.

Using the regression spelled out above — using Long-Term Adjusted Round Score to predict odds to win — here are the 10 most undervalued golfers entering the British Open tournament next week.

  • Webb Simpson: 80/1 actual odds, 19/1 predicted odds
  • Justin Thomas: 33/1 actual odds, 16/1 predicted odds
  • Emiliano Grillo: 175/1 actual odds, 30/1 predicted odds
  • Tony Finau: 60/1 actual odds, 22/1 predicted odds
  • Bryson DeChambeau: 45/1 actual odds, 19/1 predicted odds
  • Patrick Reed: 100/1 actual odds, 27/1 predicted odds
  • Marc Leishman: 55/1 actual odds, 41/1 predicted odds
  • Ian Poulter: 80/1 actual odds, 29/1 predicted odds
  • Jason Day: 35/1 actual odds, 21/1 predicted odds
  • Hideki Matsuyama: 40/1 actual odds, 21/1 predicted odds

I think this exercise is best used as a starting point to spot potential value based on long-term skill. From there, it’s wise to factor in course fit, recent play, injury news and elevated play in majors.

A more comprehensive model will account for those — more on that next week — but, again, this can help you spot guys you want to research more right off the bat.

But let’s say even a comprehensive model says that Bryson DeChambeau is undervalued according to this exercise. That doesn’t mean you have to bet him to win; picking outright winners can be profitable, but it’s hard and often very frustrating. Hitting just a couple in an entire season is a success.

But to-win odds are often correlated with top-10, top-20 and even made/missed cut odds, so it’s possible that some of the golfers listed above — Emiliano Grillo is an example of a longshot — might offer intriguing plus values at sneaking into the top 20, something that’s much more likely than winning outright.

Best DFS Values for the 2019 U.S. Open

No surprise, since odds to win and DraftKings salaries are so highly correlated, a lot of the best bets are also the best DFS values:

Based solely on his LT Adj Rd Score, Webb, a former major winner, should be priced at around $9,300. At just $7,600, he’s an incredible value and could be popular in yet another major field (he was quite popular at the U.S. Open).

Right after Webb are some guys in the $6,000 range whose LT Adj Round Scores suggest they should be more in the low $8,000 range — the bottom of the mid-tier. Lucas Glover, Billy Horschel, Charles Howell and Emiliano Grillo, for reference, are all talented golfers and could be worthy of a punt play.

This exercise does show the viability of potentially going with a stars-and-scrubs approach. If the best values are in the $6,000-$7,000 range with guys like Webb and Grillo, they will allow you to load up on the most-expensive guys — those with the best odds to win the tournament, like Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson. It’s the best of both worlds: By taking the best values, you’re exposing yourself to the highest upside players; the values allow you to spend up on guys who are properly priced.

But again, this piece is designed to just be an early look and starting point for researching the British Open. We’ll have a ton more content, some based off models that will take into account event history, recent form, etc. Stay tuned!

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