AT&T Byron Nelson Betting Tips: 6 selections priced 50/1 or bigger for PGA Tour test
TPC Potomac returned to the PGA Tour schedule with a vengeance last week. Not satisfied with a tough, penal setup, the golfing gods decided to throw wet and windy conditions into the mix too. We saw leaders come and go, some of them in super quick time, but it was no surprise to see Max Homa left holding the trophy at the end.
Homa is a player who’s building a superb record of results, not just as a gritty, determined winner but as someone who does this at some of the toughest courses the tour has to offer, with this victory added to other titles at Riviera and Quail Hollow. In doing so again in this style he once again proved his capability, in my mind at least, of developing a much better looking major championship record and that’s something he’ll be hoping to rectify in the three that remain this year. Maybe that chance could come for Homa next week in Oklahoma, at the PGA Championship.
AT&T Byron Nelson Championship Tips
- Aaron Wise 50/1 -1/5 8 places (Betfair) – 1 pt ew
- Cameron Champ 50/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfred) – 1 pt ew
- Marc Leishman 60/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfred) – 1 pt ew
- Adam Hadwin 66/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfair) – 1 pt ew
- Keith Mitchell 80/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfred) – 1 pt ew
- Matthew Wolff 100/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfair) – 1 pt ew
Before we head to Oklahoma, attention briefly turns to Texas for the AT&T Byron Nelson. Where we return to TPC Craig Ranch after the course made it’s debut as host last year.
The AT&T Byron Nelson has been on the PGA Tour schedule since the 1940s through different guises, though has adorned the name of the legendary Byron Nelson, the first winner of the event, since 1968.
As mentioned, last year was the first year the event was staged at the Tom Weiskopf designed TPC Craig Ranch, in which Kyoung-hoon Lee fired an incredibly low -25 on a receptive course, triumphing over Sam Burns by three shots. Prior to this the event had moved about a lot in its history.
In 2018/19 it was played at Trinity Forest Golf Club, which was following an over thirty year association with the TPC Course at Las Colinas, part of the Four Seasons Resort. With the event usually taking place somewhere in or around Dallas, Texas.
2022 may have been the first time TPC Craig Ranch appeared on the PGA Tour schedule but not the first time many of these players had seen the course. In 2008 and 2012 it was the host venue of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. Whilst it has also been a regular venue of the tour’s Q-School through the years, hosting a second stage event almost every year from 2009-2019.
A par 72 measuring 7468 yards, TPC Craig Ranch is a course that despite being largely tree-lined, is unintimidating, open and also exposed in places. The fairways are large and forgiving, with little rough, though plenty of bunkering. Whilst the bentgrass greens are also large, protected by further bunkering. With water in-play on a handful of holes, particularly so over the closing five, making for a potentially dramatic finish.
The par 3s are a tricky collective, with three of them measuring over 200 yards. Mastering these holes was a huge pointer to success last year, with five of the top six on the leaderboard ranking top 3 for par 3 scoring for the week.
The par 4s offer a mix of good scoring opportunities, such as the risk/reward, drivable 14th hole and tougher, longer holes, where you’re happy to leave with a par, such as the 500+ yard 13th.
The par 5s are all scorable, measuring at under 600 yards apiece, though three of the four do bring the creek which runs throughout the course into play. Meaning there is at least some danger on the holes, but put your ball into play off the tee and you can attack them.
The -25 winning score here last year was the 2nd lowest winning score on the PGA Tour for the 2020/21 season, only the BMW Championship producing a lower winning total. This down to the simplicity of the course tee-to-green and lack of penalty for errant tee-shots but also because the course was rain-softened and receptive. Though I still think the winning score will be low this year and we’ll see another birdie heavy contest, with warm, dryer conditions I suspect it won’t be quite as low as last year.
As is so often the case in low scoring affairs, approach and putting is key and this was evidenced last year. Indeed they were the two standout areas of eventual winner, Kyoung-hoon Lee’s game, as he ranked 2nd in approach and 9th on the greens.
Further to this, runner-up Sam Burns ranked 6th in approach, with Patton Kizzire, Daniel Berger and Charl Schwartzel, who all finished tied for 3rd, ranking 4th, 7th and 5th in approach respectively. Whilst Scott Stallings, who also tied for 3rd, led the field on the greens, with Kizzire 4th.
Most of those players drove it solidly as well, with Kizzire the only player to rank outside the top 25 off-the-tee and rather unsurprisingly with the lack of rough aside the fairways, length was certainly more important than accuracy. With four of that top six ranking top 25 in driving distance and all of them inside the top 35.
Though form-ties aren’t too plentiful, due to the event only being staged here once, I still think there are a bunch of events which correlate, based on how it played last year at least. The 3M Open, played at TPC Twin Cities is a lengthy course with generous fairways, little rough, large greens and leaderboards littered with big-hitting birdie makers.
Last year’s Byron Nelson winner, K.H Lee has a top 10 to his name there, whilst Charl Schwartzel and Jhonny Vegas, who were both in the top 10 here last year, have both finished 2nd at Twin Cities.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic, which is played at Detroit Golf Club has produced three low scoring winners in its short tenure on the PGA Tour schedule. With an average winning score of -22 over those three renewals. Similarly to TPC Craig Ranch and the above, fairways are wide with little defence and greens are big, with many of the leaderboards comparing directly to Twin Cities.
Troy Merritt and Doc Redman finished top 10 here last year and have both finished 2nd in Detroit. With Seamus Power and Hank Lebioda strengthening the form-ties further from the small sample size.
Three more familiar events to the PGA Tour to consider are the RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club, the Shriners Open at TPC Summerlin and The American Express, which takes place on three different courses, the main one being PGA West’s Stadium Course.
All three of these events are consistently amongst the lowest scoring events on the PGA Tour. This is on show in the most recent renewals of each event, where the winning scores ranged between -22 and -24. All events are generous off-the-tee with greens easy to find and are predominantly about creating and taking scoring opportunities.
Finally I thought it may be worth looking at last year’s BMW Championship leaderboard at Caves Valley Golf Club. This event provided us with the lowest scoring event of the season, when Patrick Cantlay triumphed in an unforgettable playoff over Bryson DeChambeau after both tied for -27. Everything about that course was easy; finding fairways, greens and there was little trouble should you miss. Last year’s 1-2 here both went well there last year, with Sam Burns finishing 8th and K.H Lee 12th.
As mentioned, the conditions will be a little different to last year. Warm, dryer weather should add a little more fire to a course that was very receptive in 2021. Whilst there will be a strong breeze around all week, with Thursday currently forecast to be the windiest day, it’s worth noting that the breeze was very much on show last year and the players still took the course apart.
A strong field has assembled this week at TPC Craig Ranch, no doubt some players looking to do some fine tuning before that second major next week. World #1, Scottie Scheffler plays his first regular event since that incredible Masters win and he is joined by #7 Justin Thomas, #8 Jordan Spieth and #10 Sam Burns. Meaning we have four of the world’s top ten teeing it up this week.
That strong top end is strengthened by a further five from the top 20 as Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Joaquin Niemann also take the decision to tee it up this week, sharpening up that game before next week’s PGA Championship.
Scottie Scheffler heads the market at 10/1 and is followed by Justin Thomas at 12/1. Obvious chances but not of interest to me this week at the prices. I’m typically wary about getting involved at the top with a major just a week away and that’s without countering in the variance that birdie-fests often throw up.
Instead I’m going to dive back in on a player who performed well in Mexico a couple of weeks ago and can go well again this week at this not too dissimilar test, Aaron Wise.
Take away that incredibly poor 2nd round 75 from Wise in Mexico and he played pretty flawlessly. He ranked 2nd for the week tee-to-green and 3rd in approach, resulting in a 6th place finish where he shot rounds of 64, 65 and 66 to make up for the horror show in round two.
That performance had been coming from Wise, who was slow to get going this year but as his ball-striking has started to fire up, his results have started to improve. With that 6th place finish following on from two top 25s in his previous four starts.
As mentioned, the upturn in form has been hugely helped by the ball-striking and Wise ranks 31st for the season both in approach and off-the-tee, also possessing that distance that means he should relish using driver this week. Though perhaps more encouraging has been the form in his short-game, where he’s gained strokes both around-the-greens and on them (though only marginally in Mexico) for the first time this year.
He played here last year, finishing 55th, though look a little closer and he actually opened with a superb -8, 64 to sit 3rd after round one, before fading over the next three rounds. However it does at least highlight his ability to go low around here. In addition to this, Wise has multiple top 10s in the Shriners Open, as well as top 20s in The Amex, RSM Classic and last year’s BMW Championship.
This type of open, scorable course suits this terrific, long ball-striker. If he can continue in the same form he showed in Mexico and cut out the mistakes that led to that disappointing 2nd round, there’s no reason why he can’t go even better here in Texas.
A couple of starts ago, Cameron Champ halted his poor season with a superb top 10 at the Masters. Following that with a 6th place finish in Mexico on his next start, it has signalled a player who’s definitely found something and back on a track where he can unleash that incredible power off-the-tee he looks worth siding with this week in the Texas, the state he went to college and now resides in.
Champ started the year missing three of his first five cuts and finishing no better than 46th in the three events where he did indeed make the weekend. Though despite this, the driver has always looked in fine shape, not only the longest driver on tour but one of the best, ranking 9th this season off-the-tee.
No doubt the reason for the much improved results has been upturn in other parts of his game. In the 10th place finish at the Masters he produced his best approach numbers of the year, ranking 8th in that field, whilst also putting well. Though the approach play went missing when 6th in Mexico, he made up for it by finding his best putting performance of the year, ranking 4th in the field. Now we’re just waiting for him to put that level of performance together in the same week.
The likeliness he can do that this week is strong, as this wide, generous course is very much the type of venue he can take apart, though that isn’t evidenced by his 55th place finish last year, however he does have strong correlating form. He won the 3M Open last year, has a 6th place finish in the RSM Classic and a 12th in the Rocket Mortgage Classic boosts my optimism for his chances.
Champ rarely does consistency but what he does do is win. He already has three PGA Tour titles to his name and the later two came when he went through similarly poor runs of form, before finding something and winning within a few starts. He can get himself into the mix again this week and there would be few outside the top guys in the betting that you’d be confident in getting the job done more than Champ.
Marc Leishman comes into this off the back of his second missed cut of the year at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship. Though he started well enough there in those difficult conditions, with his irons and putter looking in good nick, and he can bounce back in this wholly difference test this week.
Prior to last week, Leishman’s year has been one of consistency. He’s played ten events, missing just the two cuts, the other coming at THE PLAYERS Championship, another event in which it’s easy to make excuses for a subpar performance. Just three starts ago he played really well at Augusta, where a 30th place finish wasn’t really indicative of the quality of his performance. As an unusually poor week on the greens undid all the good work he did that week tee-to-green, where he ranked 5th in the field.
I say unusually poor week on the greens as Leishman is a typically excellent putter, ranking 22nd on tour this season and before that trip to Augusta had barely put a foot wrong on the putting surfaces this year, with the rest of his game also looking in good condition.
In the Masters he arrested a mini-slump with his irons and has been driving it largely well this season. Further to that he’s a player much more about power over accuracy and will appreciate the generosity of the fairways here.
Leishman played here last year, finishing a solid 21st in which he fired three rounds in the 60s and showed quality on these greens. He hasn’t had many starts at the courses I mentioned in my correlating courses section, though amongst the small amount is a 2nd place finish in the Shriners Open last year. We can also look at his five PGA Tour victories (excluding the Zurich Classic team event) and find two in incredibly low scoring conditions, as he won the 2017 BMW Championship at Conway Farms with a score of -23 and the 2018 CIMB Classic with a score of -26.
Leishman has been threatening to get back into the winner’s circle since the end of last year. With the quality he possesses on the greens and in approach, complimented by that length off-the-tee, he has the tools to go close this week.
Another PGA Tour event and I can’t help but look towards Adam Hadwin. The game continues to look in an excellent place and with some good past form here on the Korn Ferry Tour, as well as a bundle of strong correlating form, he can finally take advantage of that run this week.
We last saw him missing the cut in the Zurich Classic when teamed with Adam Svensson, though Hadwin himself played quite well, with Svensson proving to be the weak link in that duo. Before that he’d finished 26th in the RBC Heritage, not quite getting going on the greens but showing that quality approach play that was a hugely important contributor to the superb run preceding that event, in which he racked up consecutive finishes of 9th at THE PLAYERS Championship, 7th at the Valspar Championship and 4th at the Texas Open.
Approach is the standout area of his game right now and he ranks 17th for the season, though he’s been strong all-round, shown by his ranking of 29th tee-to-green and 56th in putting. With 23rd for birdie average strengthening the case for him being able to make enough birdies to compete this week.
He didn’t play here last year but as mentioned, he has played here before on the Korn Ferry Tour. He finished 3rd in the 2012 season ending Korn Ferry Tour Championship, firing four rounds in the 60s, including a closing 65.
In addition, his correlating form is abundant. He has an excellent record in The American Express, twice finishing runner-up, with 3rd and 6th place finishes to boot. Also possessing 4th and 6th place finishes at both the Shriners Open and 3M Open, as well as a further 4th place finish at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The only thing missing from Hadwin’s year so far has been that victory. The game continues to look good enough to see him getting one over the line and being able to draw on some positive experience of this course, he can finally achieve that success this week.
Keith Mitchell is another to have fallen foul of the tough conditions last week in Maryland. There were plenty of positives though despite the missed cut, with him looking good in approach and with the putter. He’ll surely appreciate this more open course this week, where he can let rip with the driver.
Last week’s missed cut was only the second time he’s missed the cut this year in a regular PGA Tour event. The other coming in the Farmers Insurance Open back in January. The rest of his year has been filled with quality, with him managing the put up five finishes of 13th or better, including three top 10s in the form of a 7th place finish in the Sony Open, 9th place finish in the Honda Classic and 10th place finish in the Phoenix Open.
As his biggest asset, it’s no surprise to see Mitchell’s quality this year engineered by the driver, where he ranks 4th this season on the PGA Tour and is one of the longer players on tour. The solidity in the rest of his game compliments this, with the putter and irons looking in a good place by and large. Mitchell’s birdie making prowess on show in his ranking of 21st in birdie average this season.
He played here last year, finishing in a respectable 26th position where he bookended his week with rounds of 67 and 66 showing his ability to score well around here. Further to this he has a 5th place finish to his name in the 3M Open and has twice finished top 15 in the RSM Classic.
Mitchell hasn’t played a huge amount of golf over the last couple of months. I’m hoping last week’s missed cut will have given him enough time to sharpen his game up for this week and if he brings his “A” game, there’s no doubt he has the assets to overpower the course this week.
Matthew Wolff has once again been admirably candid about mental health problems he’s facing or has faced within the game. Though last week at the Wells Fargo we saw a change in attitude from the likeable Californian, which brought about a much improved performance and coming here on a course that should really suit his power packed game, he can kick on from there this week.
Last week’s 25th place finish was comfortably Wolff’s best performance of the year on the PGA Tour and his second best outside of a 6th place finish in the Saudi International earlier in the year. He opened last week with a superb 65 and though he faded as the week went on, never completely lost it in those tough conditions.
He was pretty solid across the board stats wise, driving it excellently in the opening round and showing class around-the-greens in round three, whilst producing consistency in approach and putting throughout the four days.
This is indicative of what he’s shown on tour since turning professional when his game has been in a good place. He’s an excellent ball-striker, possessing enviable power off-the-tee and capable of producing incredible performances of precision iron play. Whilst the sometimes maligned putter has been the only area where he’s consistently gained strokes during this time. A game perfectly made for this week’s test if firing.
He hasn’t played here but has some really attractive correlating form. His solo PGA Tour win came back in the 2019 3M Open, when he triumphed with a sensational eagle on his final hole to deny Bryson DeChambeau. To go with that are two runner-up finishes at the Shriners Open and he has also finished 2nd in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Highlighting his suitability for this kind of setup.
If Wolff is able to kick-on from that performance last week, he would be a big danger in an event like this and I’m more than happy to roll the dice on him maintaining that form this week at the price.