Best Betting Values for the 2018 Qatar Masters
The European Tour stops in Doha, Qatar, this week for the Qatar Masters. The field obviously isn’t as strong as the Honda Classic in Florida, but the betting tickets all cash the same. With the tournament teeing off around 10:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday night, let’s run through some of the finer points to find a few good value plays.
Doha Golf Club is a par 72 that plays right at 7,400 yards. You would think that length would favor bombers off the tee, but data from last year doesn’t really back up that notion. Using the FantasyLabs Trends tool, I backtested how golfers performed last year in a variety of metrics. I used FantasyLabs’ Plus/Minus proprietary metric, which is based on performance sbove or below expectations according to their DraftKings salary. You might be wondering why I’m looking at DFS salaries, but, in fantasy golf, prices are so highly correlated with odds to win that we can use the fantasy metrics in our Models as a way of gauging golfer performance. In fact, it’s probably the easiest way to do so.
Anyway, I looked at a variety of metrics and how golfers in the top-20 percentile of each performed at last year’s event. Here’s how each metric performed in terms of Plus/Minus above or below the baseline golfer.
Interestingly, putting backtested very well at Doha despite that data point being perhaps the most volatile in golf. Long Term Field Score, which is the average strength of the field in a golfer’s tournament history based on Sagarin ratings, also tested well. Basically, the golfers last year who on average played in stronger fields throughout the year had an edge. That is a positive indicator this week for a golfer like Andy Sullivan (pictured above), who competes in the best Euro events and travels to the States to compete in majors. And finally, ball-strikers and birdie-makers performed well last year. The longest players, measured by driving distance, were about average relative to expectations. That said, players who excel in Par 5 scoring did well, which suggests that perhaps gaining strokes on those second and third shots — the lower woods or long irons — is important.
The most fascinating data point is that Course Adjusted Round Score was the worst metric backtested. Adjusted Round Score is another proprietary metric, defined as the average adjusted strokes per round; adjustments are made to account for the difficulty of the course and strength of the field. It is perhaps the best metric in golf to measure a golfer’s talent or performance — the best players in the world have the lowest Long Term Adjusted Round Scores. This means that golfers who had done well at Doha in the past did not do well last year. Put simply: Prior success does not seem to be very predictive of future success at this specific course.
Notable Players and Odds
Julian Suri is the highest-ranked golfer (70th) in this week’s field, and he’s hot on the Euro Tour at the moment: Over his past four Euro events Suri has finished top-eight all four times:
Suri is an interesting case: His World Golf Ranking likely overstates his talent a bit — his Long Term Adjusted Round Score of 70.7 is only seventh-best in the field despite his top ranking. That said, his dominant run before the New Year is nothing to scoff at, even with the middling finishes stateside. He’s +2200 to win the tournament, which is probably about right, although he will certainly get a lot of love from the betting and DFS communities. One important factor in his favor: He’s one of the best golfers in the field in attacking Par 4s and 5s, especially in his Euro events.
In terms of a player’s LT Adj Rd Score and odds to win, Soren Kjeldsen is the best value, although he’s not listed with a tee time and thus may not actually be playing anymore. The next best odds value is Seungsu Han at +3500, although I don’t really trust his data. He has only two tournaments in the FantasyLabs database, and while he did well in them, posting a 69.7 Adjusted Round Score, that’s likely to go down. Below him is a duo of older golfers in Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Bradley Dredge at +10000 and +8000 to win, respectively. They might not have quite as much upside as in their earlier years, so perhaps focusing in on their top-10 odds — they’re both at +1000 — is a better bet. Fernandez-Castano, in particular, has been brutal of late, missing eight of his past 10 cuts, although most of those were on the tougher PGA Tour.
A younger, intriguing player is Jordan L. Smith, who is one of the better Par 5 golfers among the top of the field. He has the talent to win, and +3300 odds aren’t atrocious. Staying up at the top of the field, in terms of course fit, Sullivan is a nice value: He’s been excellent of late, finishing sixth in his last tournament in Dubai, and he’s done especially well on Par 5s. He’s accumulated birdies and has struck the ball impressively. At +1600, he’s certainly worth a shot.
OK, one more. Thomas Detry is slightly favored (-120) to beat Shubhankar Sharma (-110) head-to-head. Detry’s 71.1 LT Adj Rd Score is far superior to Sharma’s 72.4 mark. Further, the former has been solid lately and has played this course before; Sharma, on the other hand, will tee it up for the first time. Detry has putted well recently and is the superior birdie-maker, both long term and recently — important traits at Doha.
Photo credit Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports