Mismatches and Underdog Bets for the 2019 Genesis Open: The Models Love Matsuyama

Mismatches and Underdog Bets for the 2019 Genesis Open: The Models Love Matsuyama article feature image

Allan Henry, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Bubba Watson

  • Justin Bailey used the FantasyLabs golf models to identify a few tournament matchups that provide value.
  • The models seem to think there's value backing Hideki Matsuyama on a course where scrambling will be key.

I’m not much of a longshot bettor when it comes to the PGA tour, so I tend to attack head-to-head matchups instead.

The goal of this piece is to provide you with quick, actionable and easily digestible information, to help both of us make informed decisions on the head-to-head bets we place.

So, each week I’ll be using the golf metrics in the FantasyLabs Player Models in search of potential mismatches I want to target for the upcoming tournament.

Let’s dive in!

All odds as of 10:00 a.m. Wednesday. 

The Mismatches

Chez Reavie over Scott Stallings (-140)

Outside of driving distance, Reavie has the edge on Stallings in every metric I am weighing this week at Riviera. Stallings is coming off a T-4 at Pebble Beach, but over their past four tournaments, Reavie’s 68.0 Recent Adjusted Round Score (Adj Rd Score) is superior to Stallings’ 69.5 Recent Adj Rd Score.

Further, Reavie also has the edge in long-term form:

  • Long-Term Adj Rd Score: 69.2 vs. 70.0
  • Greens in regulation: 68.8% vs. 66.7%
  • Adjusted strokes on par 4s: -1.4 vs. +0.8
  • Birdies per tournament: 13.7 vs. 12.2
  • Bogeys per tournament: 7.6 vs. 7.9

Reavie has also been clutch at bogey avoidance over his past four tournaments, possessing a 70.1% scrambling rate, which can only help at a course with small greens, and projected bad weather for some of the tournament.

It also doesn’t hurt that Reavie has significantly higher odds to win and finish inside the top 20 compared to Stallings at most books.

Chez Reavie
Chez Reavie walking the course at the 2019 Sony Open. Credit: Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports.

John Rahm over Bubba Watson (-150)

Given Watson has won at this course three times, I’m fully prepared for this to backfire. That said, outside of course history, I can’t find a reason to back Watson.

Rahm’s LT Adj Rd Score (68.4) and Recent Adj Rd Score (67.4) trounces Watson’s (69.3) and (69.8), along with various other metrics:

  • Birdies per tournament: 16.9 vs. 13.7
  • Bogey per tournament: 7.9 vs. 9.2
  • Adjusted strokes on par 4s: -2.4 vs. -0.5
  • Adjusted strokes on par 5s: -5.3 vs. -4.5

Along with those long-term metrics, Rahm’s red-hot right now in his recent form over the past six weeks, all of which are superior to Watson.

On paper, this is a mismatch in everything except Watson’s course history, but I’ll side with Rahm’s long-term and recent form.

Hideki Matsuyama over Jordan Spieth (-125)

Matsuyama enters this tournament with significantly better recent form compared to Spieth:

  • Adj Rd Score: 67.9 vs. 69.5
  • Driving distance: 312.8 vs. 292.6
  • Scrambling rate: 74.4% vs. 59.9%
  • Birdies per tournament: 18.3 vs. 14.7
  • Adjusted strokes on par 4s: -3.0 vs. +0.3

With driving distance being an advantage here, I’m very high on Matsuyama, especially with him finishing inside the top 15  twice over his past three starts.

Hideki Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama sizes up a putt at the Farmers Insurance Open. Credit: Orlando Ramirez, USA Today Sports.

Hideki Matsuyama over Adam Scott (-115)

If you shop around books, you can find Hideki at better odds against Scott than for his matchup against Spieth. This bet seems like a no-brainer if you’re high on Hideki since he trounces Scott in both long-term and recent form in most metrics.

Over the past 75 weeks:

  • Adj Rd Score: 68.8 vs. 69.3
  • Scrambling rate: 60.3% vs. 53.6%
  • Bogeys per tournament: 8.3 vs. 9.8
  • Birdies per tournament: 14.6 vs. 13.7
  • Adjusted strokes on par 4s: -0.8 vs. +1.4

Over the past six weeks:

  • Adj Rd Score: 67.9 vs. 69.9
  • Greens in Regulation: 76.4% vs. 62%
  • Scrambling rate: 74.4% vs. 61.2%
  • Birdies per tournament: 18.3 vs. 12.3
  • Adjusted strokes on par 4s: -3.0 vs. +1.0

It could be a long tournament for Scott if he’s continually missing greens and fails to save par, which seems plausible given his weak scrambling rates in both the long and short term.

The Underdogs

Cameron Smith over Tommy Fleetwood (+125)

In the FantasyLabs Trends tool, recent-form metrics backtested favorably. In this particular case, Smith is in better recent form over Fleetwood over their past three tournaments:

  • Adjusted Rd Score: 67.9 vs. 69.4
  • Birdies per tournament: 19.7 vs. 15.3
  • Adjusted strokes on par 4s: -4.7 vs. +0.7
  • Adjusted strokes on par 5s: -6.0 vs. -5.7

Riviera Country Club also has considerably small greens so I’m weighing scrambling here as well, and Smith is excellent with his wedges and his putter.

Over the past 75 weeks, he owns a scrambling rate of 61.7% compared to 51.6% for Fleetwood. Smith is also a better putter than Fleetwood, averaging 28.4 Putts Per Round (PPR) compared to 29.9 PPR for Fleetwood in the same timeframe.

Xander Schauffele over Phil Mickelson (+105)

Schauffele and Mickelson are extremely close in both long-term and recent metrics headed into this tournament. Schauffele’s LT Adj Rd Score (68.7) is comparable to Mickelson’s 68.8 Adj Rd Score.

And, over their past three tournaments, each golfer is headed into this tournament with a victory under their belt. Schauffele’s 66.9 recent Adj Rd Score leads the field this week, but Phil’s 67.6 Adj Rd Score isn’t far behind.

Given their metrics are so close this week, I’ll side with Schauffele at the plus-money odds.