August 02, 2018
By Matt & Will Courchene, PGATOUR.COM
Ian Poulter’s 144-yard approach sets up at Bridgestone
After the first round of World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Ian Poulter leads at 8 under par ahead of a bunched leaderboard. Here are the model’s top 10 win probabilities after Thursday’s play:
Despite holding the lead, Poulter is not the model’s favorite. Rickie Fowler, who shot a 7 under par 63 in his first round, has the highest win probability at 13 percent. Tiger Woods is lurking in a tie for 14th place and a 3.6 percent win probability.
Sitting just outside of our top 10 win probabilities is Dustin Johnson, the model’s pre-tournament favorite by a large margin. Johnson is estimated to be 0.6 strokes better per round than the next best player in this field. That is an extraordinarily large margin in the elite ranks of professional golf.
As a consequence, despite only managing a 1 under par 69 on Thursday, Johnson still has a 3.1 percent chance of winning come Sunday. Here is Johnson’s scorecard from the first round, where he managed to lose to the field on every single hole on the back nine except one:
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational hosts one of the strongest fields in golf. According to our model, the average player in this field is 0.8 strokes per round better than an average PGA TOUR professional. That is the highest average player quality of any field so far in 2018.
However, due to its limited field size (just 71 players), the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is not the tournament that is the most difficult to win on the PGA TOUR. To use a benchmark, a top five player in the world (i.e. 2 strokes per round better than the average professional) had about a four percent chance of winning the 2018 U.S. Open. This week, we estimate that a top five player has a win probability of approximately five percent.
NOTE: These reports are based off the live predictive model run by @DataGolf. The model provides live “Make Cut”, “Top 20”, “Top 5”, and “Win” probabilities every five minutes from the opening tee shot to the final putt of every PGA TOUR event. Briefly, the model takes account of the current form of each golfer as well as the difficulty of their remaining holes, and probabilities are calculated from 10K simulations. To follow live finish probabilities throughout the remainder of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, or to see how each golfer’s probabilities have evolved from the start of the event to the current time, click here for the model’s home page.