This article is part of our Golf Picks series.
AT&T Bryon Nelson Betting Preview
Golfers have traveled to the Dallas area for the AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.
This event is the final one on the schedule before the PGA Championship, and after seeing subpar fields for a couple weeks, a lot of big names will tee it up in Texas. In fact, seven of the top 15 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are on hand, including world No. 1 and tournament favorite Scottie Scheffler, who checks in at 7-1 odds. Last year, K.H. Lee, at 150-1, came through as a super long shot winner, outlasting Sam Burns by three strokes to pick up his first PGA Tour victory.
Consistency has not been the name of the game for this tournament in recent years, as it was played at Trinity Forest in 2018 and 2019 before being cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the event found a new home at TPC Craig Ranch. As a result, we only have a year's worth of data to draw from for the traditional par-72 course that plays just under 7,500 yards. Despite the length of the course, driving distance was not much of an advantage last year. Many playing styles were represented atop the leaderboard, with Lee ranking second in Strokes Gained: Approach en route to his win. Water is in play throughout the course, although it only really only comes into play on about half the holes. With six players shooting better than 20-under-par last year, I'm targeting birdie makers and strong iron players, especially those that approach it well from 200 yards and above. A lot of second shots will be struck from that distance.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 5:00 PM ET Tuesday.
These five golfers, on a per-round basis, gained the most strokes on approach over their last 20 rounds.
- Will Zalatoris: 1.13
- Justin Thomas: 1.08
- Jhonattan Vegas: 0.83
- Kurt Kitayama: 0.79
- Scottie Scheffler: 0.77
At the top of the list we find Zalatoris, who has been a ball-striking machine. On a per-round basis, he is gaining 1.68 shots off the tee and on approach combined this season. That's more than a full stroke better than Scheffler, who has emerged as the best player in the world. The big difference between the two has been the short game, so if Zalatoris can have a good week on the greens, he's a strong candidate to win at 14-1 odds. Further down the board and in form with his irons is Vegas, who led the field in SG: Approach at the Wells Fargo Championship. He addressed any doubts about his health after missing a month with an arm injury, and he played well here last year, shooting three rounds of 67 or better en route to a top-10 finish. The three-time Tour winner is a dark horse to win at 55-1.
Sam Burns (20-1)
I know it feels kind of boring to pick last year's runner-up, but sometimes the boring pick is the right one. Burns played the par-5s in a whopping 15-under-par last year and fired the low round of the tournament with a second-round, 10-under 62. Like a lot of the top players, Burns has been inactive since The Masters, but he won the Valspar Championship in March and has three wins since last spring.
Aaron Wise (55-1)
I'm going to continue to roll with Wise and his superb long game, knowing that if he has an above average putting week he will be in contention. Wise ranks 31st in both SG: Off-the-Tee and Approach this season, and he's also 28th in approaches from over 200 yards. That will be key in order to take advantage of the par-5s.
Si Woo Kim (65-1)
Kim broke through at such a young age that it's easy to forget he's just 26 years old and continues to improve. I don't see an apparent weakness in the three-time Tour winner's game, and he's become much more consistent this season, having made 16-of-18 cuts.
Maverick McNealy (5-1)
This is good value for McNealy, who has missed only one cut all season and has constantly given himself top-10 chances even though he has converted only two. He's making birdies at a 24.9 percent clip this season – the 14th best mark on Tour – and after struggling on approach his first couple seasons, he's up to 58th for the current campaign.
Keith Mitchell (6-1)
Mitchell comes in as a bit of a forgotten golfer, having taken the course last week following a five-week break. He missed the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship, but this week's birdie-fest should set up much better for him. Mitchell played as well as anyone to start the year, posting five top-15 finishes in seven appearances.
Brandon Wu (12-1)
The 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie had a slow start to his maiden season, missing nine of his first 10 cuts. However, he has turned the corner since, posting a pair of top-3 finishes over his past five starts. His biggest strengths are his accuracy off the tee and approach play, which should suit this course well. Wu gained over 10 shots with his ball striking in his T2 finish in Mexico two weeks ago.
Koepka isn't usually a preferred target in one-on-one matchups due to his variance, but he's clearly a better golfer than Leishman in this one. Leishman did not do much in recent months, and Koepka's four top-20 finishes this year are more than Leishman has tallied. Koepka did miss the cut here last year but lost 4.5 strokes on the putting surface over two rounds.
It will be interesting to see how Day bounces back after blowing a three-shot, 36-hole lead last week to finish T15. With only three top-40 finishes and four missed cuts in 10 starts this season, he's far from an ideal fit for matchups to begin with. And he missed the cut here last year. Harman didn't play this event last year but he comes in off his third top-10 of the year.