PGA Tour to offer win probabilities and FanDuel sportsbook

August 21, 2023
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Gaming America spoke to executives at the PGA Tour, FanDuel and Amazon Web Services about integrating odds and FanDuel sportsbook at IMG Arena's Golf Event Centre.

When the 2023 FedEx Cup Playoffs began earlier this month, the PGA Tour unveiled a new feature to its leaderboards: win probabilities.

With this new feature, fans can now view, in real time, every player’s odds to win, make the cut and/or earn a top 10 finish.The win probability function runs on data from ShotLink powered by CDW and on computing power from Amazon Web Services. The feature combines statistics for individual players, aggregated Tour metrics and hole-specific data to create thousands of tournament outcome simulations for each player in the field to determine probabilities.

Then it recalculates and updates those probabilities hundreds of times during play.

Mike Vitti, PGA Tour Senior Vice President, Data and Decision Science, said win probability has been around for a long time in other sports. But golf posed an “interesting stats problem” because a player’s win probability can be affected even before they’ve started to play.

That’s because a birdie by someone playing right now can affect the win probability of someone else in the field who is still warming up.

Vitti said, “Really what one player does affects the entire field.” So, the amount of computing power necessary to calculate – and then re-calculate every 15 seconds – win probably in golf is quite high. Vitti said that four billion records need to be created for every tournament in order to calculate win probabilities, which is why the Tour needed to partner with Amazon Web Services. The Tour needed Amazon’s computer power.

Julie Souza, Head of Sports, Global Professional Services at Amazon Web Services, said, “At AWS, we believe that data gains true meaning when it’s woven into context. The Win Probabilities tool, born from collaboration between the PGA TOUR and our advanced technology, adds layers of insight to the leaderboard, offering fans a compelling new way to interact with a player’s journey. Technology is fueling the next stage of sports experiences and we’re excited to continue to evolve products that bring fans closer to the sports they love.”

The win probability feature rolled out at about the same time that FanDuel has integrated its sportsbook with IMG Arena’s Golf Event Centre, which offers fans access to a catalog of live markets for stroke-by-stroke bets at PGA Tour events, including closest-to-the-pin, the longest drive and the number of birdies.

The integration will also give FanDuel customers an enhanced data visualization experience to watch during tournaments. Scott Warfield, Vice President of Gaming at the PGA Tour, said this integration will help drive fan engagement as the PGA Tour and sportsbooks seek to sort of “create a market from scratch” with popular in-play wagering chances.

He said, “Most of the betting trends are around in-play opportunities.”

IMG Arena is IMG's sports data and technology hub, serving sports betting and media. It delivers live streaming and data feeds for more than 65,000 sports events annually. Its clients include the PGA Tour, Ultimate Fighting Championship and Major League Soccer, among many others.

Brian Clayton, Vice President of Sales – Americas, IMG Arena, said, “Our Golf Event Centre is an industry-first product that enables interactive in-play betting on golf for the first time, bringing a new dimension to the golf experience for fans around the world. Now FanDuel customers can enjoy its immersive data-visualization features during the PGA Tour’s tournaments, and benefit from unique markets to enjoy every shot, hole and player.”

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