Best bets for the PGA AT&T Byron Nelson

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AT&T Byron Nelson

Wyndham Clark’s two-stroke advantage was wiped out in the first three holes, and he found himself a shot behind playing partner Xander Schauffele after seven holes of the final round in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. However, Clark responded to birdie five of the next eight holes — getting some help as Schauffele dropped costly shots at the ninth and 11th holes — and earn his first PGA Tour win, cashing at 75-1 for this column.

 

Clark led the Wells Fargo field for Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green, Greens In Regulation and Scrambling while also ranking third in the field for Strokes Gained: Putting and Proximity. He finished 19 under, four shots ahead of Schauffele. Tyrrell Hatton and Harris English shared third at -12 while Adam Scott and Tommy Fleetwood tied for 5th at 11 under.

This week, the PGA Tour hosts its last event before the PGA Championship at the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas. Dallas resident Scottie Scheffler has had his price shortened to 7-2 after the Monday withdrawal of fellow Dallas resident Jordan Spieth, runner-up here last year, with a wrist injury.

Hatton (14-1) makes his debut in this event after his T-3 finish last weekend at the Wells Fargo. Jason Day (16-1) has been playing good golf throughout the early portion of 2023 but missed the cut last week. Tom Kim (16-1) posted a top-20 on debut here last year.

Hideki Matsuyama (22-1) was third last year behind K.H. Lee (25-1), who has won back-to-back events here at prices of 100 and 150-1.

Matt Kuchar (30-1) has back-to-back top-20s here while Adam Scott (35-1) posted a top-5 at the Wells Fargo for his best finish of 2023.

Overall, 12 of the top 50 and 25 of the top 90 in the OWGR will be in attendance at TPC Craig Ranch.

The Event

The AT&T Byron Nelson is named after its first winner. Nelson won this tournament in 1944 when it was known as the Texas Victory Open. He lent his name to this event in 1968 and served as host until his death in 2016. The tournament is the all-time fundraising leader on the PGA Tour. The Salesmanship Club of Dallas is the event’s host organization, and it raises money for Momentous Institute, a youth social services organization based in Dallas. The event has always been played in the Dallas area. AT&T, headquartered in Dallas, took over the sponsorship in 2015.

Many legends of the game have won this event, including Tom Watson (1975, 1978, 1979 and 1980), Sam Snead (1945, 1957 and 1958), Jack Nicklaus (1970, 1971), Byron Nelson (1944), Ben Hogan (1946), Phil Mickelson (1996), Tiger Woods (1997) and Sergio Garcia (2004, 2016).

This tournament was moved to TPC Craig Ranch, located in McKinney (32 miles northeast of downtown Dallas), in 2021.

The Course

TPC Craig Ranch plays host for its third year. The layout was designed by Tom Weiskopf in 2004. Weiskopf also designed TPC Scottsdale (Waste Management Phoenix Open) and the Torrey Pines North Course (Farmers Insurance Open). The course is set in a rolling valley and features tree-lined fairways with Rowlett Creek, which crisscrosses the course 14 times with eight water danger holes). The track will play as a par-71 of 7,414 yards. For the past two AT&T Byron Nelson events, Craig Ranch has played as a par-72, but it is now a par-71 as the 12th hole is now a long par-4 instead of a par-5.

The front nine looks to be the most scoreable nine. The first, third and sixth holes are all par-4s at 430 yards or less. Add in 569-yard (fifth) and 564-yard (eighth) par-5s and there are birdies to be made on these Bentgrass greens that are large (6,778 square feet average) and medium speed (11.5 stimpmeter). The back nine, which is located in a residential setting, sees a drivable par-4 (330 yards) at the 14th, a short 147-yard par-3 at the 17th and a par-5 18th hole of 552 yards.

There are 83 bunkers, and the wind can blow here, but the Zoysia fairways are wide and generous, the eighth widest on the PGA Tour. The wind is by and large the only defense for this course, though as the winning score was 26 under par.

Craig Ranch had an average round score of -2.61 in 2022, which was the third-easiest course on the PGA Tour last year. This is a reason why the Bermuda rough has been grown out a bit from 2.5 inches to 2.75.

TPC Craig Ranch also features Zoysiagrass from tee to green. TPC Southwind (WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational) and East Lake (Tour Championship) also feature Zoysiagrass.

Some potential correlated courses to TPC Craig Ranch include Vidanta Vallarta, TPC Scottsdale, Detroit Golf Club, TPC Twin Cities, TPC Deere Run, CC of Jackson and Plantation Course of Kapalua.

Here is the scorecard for TPC Craig Ranch:

Recent History/Winners

2022: K.H. Lee (-26/262); 100-1

2021: K.H. Lee (-25/263); 150-1

2020: Tournament canceled (COVID-19)

2019: Sung Kang (-23/261); 125-1

2018: Aaron Wise (-23/261); 50-1

2017: Billy Horschel (-12/268); 125-1*

2016: Sergio Garcia (-15/265); 25-1**

2015: Steven Bowditch (-18/259); 500-1***

2014: Brendon Todd (-14/266); 100-1

2013: Sang-moon Bae (-13/267); 150-1

2012: Jason Dufner (-11/269); 22-1

2011: Keegan Bradley (-3/277) 200-1****

2010: Jason Day (-10/270); 100-1

Playoff win over Jason Day – *

Playoff win over Brooks Koepka – **

Par played at 69 for three days due to flooding – ***

Playoff win over Ryan Palmer – ****

Notes: 2018 and 2019 tournaments played at Trinity Forest Golf Club; 2010-2017 tournaments played at TPC Las Colinas.

Statistical Analysis

Because it is so easy to gain strokes off the tee, TPC Craig Ranch becomes an ultimate second-shot course. Overall, TPC Craig Ranch was the third-easiest course to gain strokes on approach in 2021. In 2021, the top eight players in SG: Approach finished within the top 17 on the leaderboard. And last year, eight of the top 11 in approach finished in the top 17 overall.

Strokes Gained Approach (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Tom Hoge 40.4
  2. Scottie Scheffler 33.7
  3. Tyrrell Hatton 22.2
  4. Tom Kim 21.9
  5. Eric Cole 21.2
  6. Satoshi Kodaira 19.4
  7. Davis Riley 19.1
  8. Joseph Bramlett 18.2
  9. Scott Piercy 18.1
  10. Erik van Rooyen 17.7
  11. Stephan Jaeger 17.2
  12. Charley Hoffman 16.9
  13. David Lipsky 16.6
  14. Kevin Roy 16.4
  15. Jason Day 16.3
  16. Robby Shelton 16.2
  17. Hideki Matsuyama 15.3

A little over 36% of total approach shots here are from 200 or more yards out.

Proximity Gained 200+ Yards (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Tom Hoge 23.9
  2. Augusto Nunez 23.7 (31 Rounds)
  3. Austin Smotherman 19.4
  4. Pierceson Coody 18 (20 Rounds)
  5. Nate Lashley 15.9
  6. Davis Thompson 15
  7. Charley Hoffman 14.4
  8. Parker Coody 13.1 (4 Rounds)
  9. Derek Ernst 12.4
  10. Kevin Roy 12.1
  11. Tom Kim 11
  12. Luke List 10.2
  13. Davis Riley 9.8
  14. Matthew NeSmith 9.5
  15. Patton Kizzire 9.1
  16. Stephan Jaeger 8.5
  17. Adam Scott 8.5
  18. Austin Eckroat 8.2
  19. Michael Gligic 8.2
  20. Richy Werenski 8.2

Note: Average Feet Gained Per Shot

Although efforts have been made to make TPC Craig Ranch more difficult to prepare the players more for next week’s major championship, this still looks like a birdie-fest as it has been the last two years.

Birdie Or Better Gained (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 31.7
  2. Taylor Montgomery 29.1
  3. Tyrrell Hatton 23.1
  4. Jason Day 19.5
  5. Sam Stevens 18
  6. Dylan Wu 17.4
  7. Tom Hoge 16.5
  8. Min Woo Lee 16.3
  9. Harry Hall 16.2
  10. Byeong Hun An 16.1
  11. Vincent Norrman 15.1
  12. Justin Suh 14.8
  13. Brandon Wu 14.5
  14. Tyler Duncan 13
  15. Erik van Rooyen 12.7
  16. Scott Piercy 11.7
  17. Ryan Palmer 11.6
  18. K.H. Lee 11.1
  19. Aaron Wise 10.3

TPC Craig Ranch was the third-easiest course on the PGA Tour last year.

Strokes Gained Total Easy Scoring Courses (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 59.8
  2. Seamus Power 59.5
  3. Tom Kim 56.4
  4. Tom Hoge 56.3
  5. Maverick McNealy 47.2
  6. Tyler Duncan 39.5
  7. Taylor Montgomery 36 (22 Rounds)
  8. Matt Kuchar 35.2
  9. Jason Day 34.1
  10. Tyrrell Hatton 30.6
  11. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 29.9
  12. Aaron Wise 29.1
  13. Harry Hall 27.2 (30 Rounds)
  14. Hideki Matsuyama 27.1
  15. David Lipsky 27.1
  16. Martin Laird 25.9
  17. Chris Stroud 24.9

Six of the 11 par-4s measure between 450 and 500 yards.

Strokes Gained Par-4s 450-500 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 20.9
  2. Maverick McNealy 17.4
  3. Sam Stevens 14.6
  4. Jason Day 14
  5. Carson Young 13.9
  6. Si Woo Kim 13.9
  7. Dylan Wu 13.3
  8. Jimmy Walker 12.7
  9. Tyrrell Hatton 12
  10. Byeong Hun An 11.7
  11. Stephan Jaeger 10.2
  12. K.H. Lee 10
  13. Eric Cole 9.4
  14. Joseph Bramlett 9
  15. Austin Eckroat 8.7
  16. Aaron Rai 8.2

All three of the par-5s are must-birdie holes and the average score over the last five years is 4.59 as compared with the tour average of 4.65.

Strokes Gained Par-5s (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 23.1
  2. Dylan Wu 17.5
  3. Kevin Chappell 17.2
  4. Vincent Norrman 15.2 (26 Rounds)
  5. Matt Kuchar 14.2
  6. K.H. Lee 13.6
  7. Nate Lashley 13.6
  8. Hideki Matsuyama 13.3
  9. Maverick McNealy 12.7
  10. Tyrrell Hatton 12.4
  11. Sam Stevens 12.3
  12. Jimmy Walker 12
  13. Patton Kizzire 11.6
  14. Ryan Palmer 10.8
  15. Adam Schenk 10.6
  16. Taylor Montgomery 9.9
  17. Byeong Hun An 9.9
  18. Cameron Percy 9.6

These smooth Bentgrass greens were the third-easiest to gain strokes on tour last year, but it is worth examining the better putters on Bentgrass.

Strokes Gained Putting Bentgrass Greens (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 34.2
  2. Maverick McNealy 30.3
  3. Justin Lower 29.8
  4. Seung-yul Noh 29.1
  5. Derek Lamely 28.3
  6. Austin Cook 26.2
  7. Mackenzie Hughes 22.6
  8. Harry Higgs 18.3
  9. Vincent Whaley 16.4
  10. Seamus Power 16.2
  11. Scott Stallings 15.4
  12. Matt Kuchar 14.2
  13. Hank Lebioda 14
  14. Jason Day 12.6
  15. Ricky Barnes 12.2
  16. Justin Suh 10.3
  17. Tom Hoge 9.7
  18. SH Kim 9.5

Selections

Seamus Power (45-1, BetRivers)

Power posted his best finish in more than three months with an 18th last week at the Wells Fargo.

He has finished ninth and 17th the last two years at TPC Craig Ranch.

Power is a terrific putter on Bentgrass greens and he is part of a multitude of players trying to make the European Ryder Cup team.

Tom Hoge (50-1, Boyd Sports)

Hoge leads this field for Strokes Gained: Approach and Proximity Gained from 200+ Yards.

Just five starts ago, he finished third at The Players Championship.

He played his college golf at TCU in nearby Fort Worth, so this is a local angle that could get ignored a bit with Dallas residents Scheffler and Tom Kim at the top of the board.

Joseph Bramlett (70-1, Boyd Sports)

Bramlett was seventh on debut here two years ago.

While the game off the tee is not of the utmost importance here, Bramlett is arguably the biggest hitter with the driver in this field, and that will help this week.

Sam Stevens (75-1, Boyd Sports)

Stevens is another local who lives in Fort Worth.

He finished second at the Valero last month the week after finishing T-3 at the Corales Puntacana.

Michael Kim (80-1, BetMGM)

Kim finished seventh last weekend at the Wells Fargo where he was third in GIR, seventh for Strokes Gained Off The Tee and 25th in Strokes Gained Approach.

He has two top-20s in his last three events and seems to be coming into form.

Jimmy Walker (130-1, Boyd Sports)

Walker contracted Lyme Disease in 2017 and his career has been derailed for a while, but the former PGA champion has played his best golf in several years over the last month.

He has four top-25s in his last five starts and led the RBC Heritage for a bit several weeks ago.

Matchups (25-16-5; 3-1 last week)

Jimmy Walker -130 over Cameron Champ (South Point)

Scott Stallings -130 over Mackenzie Hughes (BetMGM)

Tom Kim -110 over Hideki Matsuyama (BetMGM)

Regions Tradition (PGA Tour Champions) and PGA Tour placement market bets will be available at VSiN.com’s Picks At A Glance.