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Byron Nelson Championship Tips & Predictions: Five selections in Texas

Byron Nelson Championship Tips & Predictions.
Byron Nelson Championship Tips & Predictions.

Byron Nelson Championship Tips

  • Will Zalatoris @ 28/1 – 1/5 8 places (William Hill) – 2 pts ew (NAP)
  • Keith Mitchell @ 66/1 – 1/5 8 places (William Hill) – 1 pt ew (NB)
  • Wyndham Clark @ 150/1 – 1/5 8 places (William Hill) – 0.75 pts ew (Longshot)
  • Talor Gooch @ 70/1 – 1/5 8 places (William Hill) – 1 pt ew (Others to consider)
  • Cameron Champ @ 70/1 – 1/5 8 places (William Hill) – 1 pt ew (Others to consider)

Our brand new contributor golf tipster Jamie Worsley takes a look at this week's AT&T Byron Nelson Championship on the PGA Tour with five selections...

It was fantastic to see Rory McIlroy get back to winning ways at the Wells Fargo after 18 months without a victory. It certainly whets the appetite for the USPGA Championship even further in a week’s time, which returns to the scene of his demolition nine years ago, Kiawah Island. Golf is a more exciting game when Rory is winning.

Before that we have the matter of the AT&T Byron Nelson, which has a new home at TPC Craig Ranch in Mckinney, Texas. It’s the first time the course has been used on the PGA Tour but did host the 2008/2012 editions of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, as well as being one of the venues for the tour’s Q-School.

TPC Craig Ranch is a par 72 measuring 7468 yards and designed by 1973 Open Champion Tom Weiskopf, who also helped design one of the most familiar stops on the PGA Tour, TPC Scottsdale which plays host to the Phoenix Open. The course has water in play throughout and some clever bunkering on the fairways and around the bentgrass greens. I really feel the long game is going to have to be on point this week for anyone to contend.

Golf betting tips

Though early days, the forecast for the week looks tricky. Strong winds over the weekend and there’s a chance of heavy rain, making an already long course even longer. Meaning every facet of your game will have to be firing if you’re one of the shorter hitters in the field.

The field was dealt a blow on Monday evening when world number one, Dustin Johnson withdrew from the event citing a knee problem and is a doubt for the USPGA Championship. On the face of it, the field still looks strong, with the likes of DeChambeau, Rahm and Spieth in there but I actually think it’s a little top heavy with little depth outside those at the top.

The combination of a new course, tough weather, a field lacking depth and the fact it’s the week before a major, may offer a great opportunity for a player looking to get over the winning line for the first time at this level. The majority of my selections will reflect that.

Golf betting odds
Will Zalatoris each-way (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-05-11 11:10 Odds subject to change.

At first glance the prices for this event made little appeal and with the withdrawal of Johnson you’d expect already unappealing prices to shorten further. But for some reason, Zalatoris’ price has stayed the same and though I originally thought he was a little on the short side, with the withdrawal of Johnson, he now looks a fair price and I’m taking him as my main bet this week.

Zalatoris’ rise to stardom has been incredible over the last 12 months. He was already making waves on the Korn Ferry Tour after a strong amateur career but he really made his name heard at last year’s US Open, as he qualified and finished in a superb 6th position. Since then, he hasn’t looked back, solely plying his trade on the PGA Tour and missing just two cuts in the process. 

He’s risen a remarkable 389 places in the world rankings from 419th to 30th in that time and for a moment looked like he may win the Masters on debut before finishing one shot shy of eventual winner, Hideki Matsuyama.

He missed the cut last week for just the second time since stepping up but I’m not concerned, he’s the ideal type for what I expect this test to be this week. He’s long off the tee, ranking 21st in driving distance and has already established himself as one of the very best iron players in the world, where he ranks 4th in approach play on the PGA Tour this season. He’s simply a phenomenal ball-striker.

Zalatoris is a player destined for the very top of the game. A win at PGA Tour level should be his next target and I don’t see it being too far away. I can’t see that he’s had a better opportunity than the event and circumstances of this week, which take place just 20 minutes away from his home in Plano, Texas.

Keith Mitchell each-way (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-05-11 11:12 Odds subject to change.

Zalatoris is a rare case in that he’s near the top of the market but hasn’t been shortened. There is little else that appeals at the top end, so I will try to find the value further down the betting and see Keith Mitchell as a solid option this week.

He entered the final round at Quail Hollow with a 2 shot lead last week, before eventually falling to 3rd as Rory returned to the winner’s circle. He still only finished 2 shots behind him and really didn’t play that badly. There’s a strong possibility that rather than his game letting him down, it was the occasion and the fact the crowd was heavily pro Rory may not have helped his chances.

Despite this he continued to hit the ball well, gaining strokes both off the tee and with his irons but ultimately the short game cost him, as he played poorly around the greens. This was still an excellent performance for the week and it wasn’t a bolt from the blue, as he’s been showing signs of a return to form in recent weeks. Just two starts previous he recorded a 14th place finish in the Texas Open.

I think the most encouraging thing about his performance last week was the improvement with his irons, where he recorded his best performance of the year ranking 11th in the field for the week in approach. Combine that with the fact he’s an excellent and long driver, he has the combo we’re looking for this week and if he can shake off the disappointment of defeat on Sunday he could well contend again.

Wyndham Clark each-way (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-05-11 11:15 Odds subject to change.

I definitely feel there’s a chance for a three-figure winner this week. Not only are we on a new course but we’re also not sure of the intentions of the top players in this field. Of course they’ll all want to and will try to win if they have a sniff but if they don’t, will they just use it as preparation for the USPGA Championship?

With that in mind I’m going to take a punt on another big hitter who’s approach play has also taken a step in the right direction in the last couple of weeks.

Clark started the year in excellent form on the West Coast, making all 4 cuts, culminating in an 8th place finish at The Genesis Invitational in really tough conditions. Which will stand him in good stead should the predicted bad weather arrive over the weekend.

He hit a bit a lull in some strong fields when the tour headed East, with three missed cuts on the bounce but is showing signs of returning to some form after making his last three cuts, including a 43rd place finish that offered more promise than the bare form suggests last week.

Though he finished the week losing strokes in approach, he actually gained strokes in three of his four rounds. The reason the overall stats for the week are so skewed is because of a truly terrible day with the irons on Thursday, where he was the 6th worst player in the field in approach play. He followed that with three solid rounds of iron play and if he can continue that, I expect his recent upturn in form to continue and he should be a lively outsider over the week.

Talor Gooch each-way (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-05-11 11:15 Odds subject to change.

Gooch has been playing well for a few years now without being able to get a win over the line but I think he’s more than capable. He always shows up in strong fields on long, difficult courses. Case in point being last week’s 26th place finish at Wells Fargo where he hit the ball as well as anyone in the final round, only to have an unusually bad day on the greens.

Another, like Clark, who went well in the brutal conditions at The Genesis Invitational earlier in the year, so should handle the weather if it gets really tough over the weekend.

Typically a strong iron player and putter, with enough distance off-the-tee. I feel he’s well suited to this week’s test and this likeable character would be a popular winner should he finally get that win this week.

USPGA Championship odds
Cameron Champ each-way (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-05-11 11:15 Odds subject to change.

Finally, I couldn’t look at big hitters without chancing Cameron Champ. Consistently one of the biggest hitters on tour.

He’s been out of form for most of the year but has shown promise in his last couple of starts. Finishing 34th in the Texas Open and 26th at The Masters, appearing to be trending in the right direction.

Hard to know exactly where his game was at The Masters, with the lack of strokes gained stats but they were certainly more positive than they have been in Texas, where he gained in all areas of his game besides around the greens.

It’s easy to forget how young he still is, at only 25 he’s already a two-time PGA Tour winner and has always been highly thought of. If he shows a glimpse of a return to form, he’s a player who needs to be taken seriously and has shown he isn’t going to shy away from winning.

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