What have you done for me lately?
For Matt Kuchar, lately is a short period of his rather long career. In 2012, the 43 year old won the Players, or the fifth major, and was ranked in the world’s top 5.
In 2022, he seems to have regained that form. Kuchar finished in the top 5 at the RBC Heritage and Valero Texas Open, and he tied for 12th last week at the AT&T Bryon Nelson.
However, there are some warning signs that this recent form might be a fluke. In these three tournaments, he excelled at putting. To quantify this, let’s look at True Strokes Gained.
Raw strokes gained is the number of strokes a golfer beats a field in a tournament. At Data Golf, True Stokes Gained takes this raw metric and adjusts for field strength. A golfer gets more credit for a performance at the Masters with most of the world’s top golfers than the Mexico Open.
When looking at True Strokes Gained for putting, Kuchar has put up some great numbers in recent tournaments (the number gives strokes gained per round).
- 1.02 – AT&T Byron Nelson
- 1.88 – RBC Heritage
- 1.84 – Valero Texas Open
Unfortunately for Kuchar, randomness plays a big role in putting. These recent putting performances are not as predictive as other elements of the game, and this implies regression in his putting performances.
A more predictive element for golfers is driving distance, and this is an important aspect of winning the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Unfortunately for Kuchar, he is not strong off the tee.
Let’s contrast Kuchar with Joaquin Niemann, the 23 year old Chilean. Niemann excels at driving distance and approach. The latter is also important on a Southern Hills course with small greens that are unforgiving for inaccurate approach shots.
In the match up markets, DraftKings has Niemann -125 over Kuchar, which gives a break even probability of 55.6%. Brandon Gdula of numberFire would make the price -167 for Niemann, and DataGolf also has a win probability closer to 60%. Most likely, Kuchar’s recent form has kept this price from getting higher.
In addition, the markets at DraftKings seem off on Kuchar, as they have him at 60-1 to win the PGA Championship. This implies a much higher win probability than the 150-1 at FanDuel and 250-1 at Circa.
This all suggests value on Niemann -125 over Kuchar at the PGA Championship.
Here are some other bets I made on the PGA Championship.
- John Rahm +1200 to win. On a recent episode of Establish the Run podcast, pro sports bettor Rufus Peabody said he bets Rahm to win every week. I can’t imagine this has changed within the last month. DraftKings has better odds at +1400.
- Tiger Woods -115 to make the cut. Nothing says square bettor quite like betting on Tiger. DataGolf has liked Tiger to make the cut at the last two majors (including this PGA Championship).
Data driven betting information
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