2024 Mexico Open At Vidanta Data-Driven Pick: Bet Knapp in Final Round

2024 Mexico Open At Vidanta Data-Driven Pick: Bet Knapp in Final Round article feature image

(Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images). Pictured: Jake Knapp.

I've been modeling and betting golf for quite some time now, and it isn't an exaggeration to say my model has never experienced as steep of a projected score output between the leader and the rest of the field as we have gotten this week.

Jake Knapp's 8.42-shot advantage over the second-place projected golfer Keith Mitchell has presented this massive discrepancy that has shown that the 29-year-old may have taken longer than he expected to make it on tour, although the upside is unlimited now that he is here in 2024.

Most of that projection stems from the actual ball-striking returns and mixes in projected short-game totals over a longer-term baseline standpoint. Knapp has yet to place outside the top four in ball striking during any of the three rounds, and the 14.04 shots he has earned to the field landed 6.52 strokes better than the second name in the field — a return that has once again provided Mitchell's name to the equation.

We will talk a little more about this Knapp surge in Mexico in the section below, but this is his event to lose.

If you haven't already, you can find me on Twitter (@TeeOffSports). There, I provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user input to create custom golf rankings. That sheet is released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.

2024 Mexico Open Final Round Predictions

Jake Knapp +105 over Sami Valimaki (FanDuel)

I wouldn't say this is generally a positive EV strategy. Betting the player with a four-shot lead over the second-place producer on the leaderboard going into Sunday is one of those stay-away spots because of the sheer fact that Knapp's strategy does likely have to alter when entering the final round. I haven't seen him play enough to guarantee that it will or won't, but I still think markets have taken that reality at too much face value when considering two factors in this equation. 

For starters, Sami Valimaki is not necessarily some well-conditioned PGA Tour player who has presented tons of reps in the final group himself. A win at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in October showed his ability to close out an event from a shot back. Still, there is a difference between needing to make up one shot against a questionable field overseas versus doing it here and making up four strokes at a venue such as Vidanta when diving into all of the pitfalls you can find if your game is a little off.

Pressing too hard will bring water into the mix, so while there is no guarantee Knapp holds up his end of the bargain, I do consider Valimaki to have a higher ceiling/lower floor because of the sheer aggression that will be needed if he wants to win the event.

The second element that comes into play is what happens when you throw these two names into the same head-to-head matchup on Saturday versus Sunday. I get there is a final-round tax that must be considered on a golfer who has never won on tour and will have to experience a new situation if he wants to walk out of Mexico victorious. However, at what point does my accurate price of -140 not factor into deciding value when FanDuel placed it 45 points higher because of nothing more than his four-shot lead?

Do I promise Knapp continues playing as cleanly as he has through three rounds? No. Nonetheless, there are routes for him to falter, not win the tournament, but still beat Valimaki. There are also additional pathways for him to falter, hold steady enough to win, all while eclipsing a plummeting Valimaki down the board.

This is not as cut-and-dry as the perception books have placed on this wager. You can sell me on the fact that my -140 projected price needs to see a reduction of some kind to account for the final round factors. However, a 45-point shift doesn't correctly encapsulate that narrative either.

I will bet on the historic ball striking to continue for Knapp against a golfer who is currently 22 spots higher on the leaderboard than my model would have expected for the way he is hitting the ball so far this week.

There is no other way around it. A plus-number got me to bite if that is what the books wanted. 

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