With the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island taking place next week, the AT&T Byron Nelson gets a boost in field quality. However, it’s already had to take a hit after World number one Dustin Johnson was forced to withdraw on Monday due to a knee problem. It’s DJ’s third WD of the season so keep that in your thinking for next week.
Johnson’s absence leaves Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau and Jordan Spieth as the three clear betting favorites and the latter showed what a bit of home Lone Star State advantage could bring when capturing the Valero Texas Open the week prior to Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters win (the Japanese returns to action here).
At the Texas Open, gamers had an extra layer of confidence when choosing Spieth due to a healthy bank of course form. This week they do not. After two years at Trinity Forest (2018-19; 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic), the AT&T Byron Nelson moves to TPC Craig Ranch, a venue never seen on the PGA TOUR.
TPC Craig Ranch
After the wide-open expanses of Trinity Forest, TPC Craig Ranch is a more conventional tree-lined track. It’s a Tom Weiskopf design that opened in 2004 and measures in at 7,450 yards with a par of 72.
Grass-wise, the course has Zoysia fairways and Bentgrass greens. It has gentle undulations (good news for Brooks Koepka’s rehabbing knee) and, according to Head Golf Course Chief Superintendent, Jim Osborne, the course features a mix of “easier, shorter, fun holes” and holes that play “big and tough”. Rowlett Creek crosses the course numerous times so water is in play often.
It’s a TPC course so has the usual ampitheater feel. It’s a big property so although crowds are restricted to 25 percent, that still means around 12,500 spectators will be allowed in each day.
It’s a mild start to tournament week with temperatures struggling to climb into the 70s on day one. But everything ramps up Friday through Sunday and that includes the wind. You’d expect that in Texas and nothing is extreme but gusts of around 15-18mph on Saturday and Sunday afternoon will add to the test. Temps max out at around 85 degrees and thankfully it should be dry throughout.
Past Champions at TPC Craig Ranch
It’s a new course on the PGA TOUR so that’s a blank. Well, maybe not: TPC Craig Ranch staged the Korn Ferry Tour Championship in 2008 and 2012. Those events were won by Matt Bettencourt and Justin Bolli with winning scores of 17-under and 16-under respectively. Par was only 71 in those two events so we could hit 20-under this time. Bettencourt ranked 1st for Putting Average when winning while Bolli was in the top six for PA so there’s an obvious clue. Hot putters form a queue.
Sung Kang won the last edition of this event in 2019 when it was held at Trinity Forest. And, wouldn’t you know it, he’s a member at this week’s venue. Shame about his woeful current form. Australians tend to perform strongly in this and other Texas events and Jason Day and Adam Scott both have their names etched on the AT&T Byron Nelson trophy.
Here’s an entirely FREE golf picks for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|Player #1||S. Scheffler||$9,400|
|Player #2||M. Leishman||$9,200|
|Player #3||T. Pieters||$8,600|
|Player #4||M. Kuchar||$8,200|
|Player #5||B. Martin||$7,400|
|Player #6||J. Hahn||$7,100|
Remaining cash $100
Scottie Scheffler ($9,400) When the PGA TOUR visited Scheffler’s home state in late March, he finished runner-up at the WGC-Match Play. After a jaded T54 in the Texas Open a week later, he posted a creditable T-18 at Augusta and shot middle rounds of 67-66 in the Valspar Championship two weeks ago. T-7 at Scottsdale, another TPC venue, the big-hitting youngster is 16th for Par Breakers this season and can rack up the points on a lengthy course that should suit.
Marc Leishman ($9,200) The strong record of Aussies in Texas brings Leishman’s name into the crosshairs and there’s plenty to recommend him. Let’s start with T-5 at Augusta National on his last appearance and then also add in some sneaky course form; yes, Leishman played the Korn Ferry Tour Championship here in 2008 and finished T-7. He’s made the top 15 in five of his last nine Texas starts, including a runner-up finish in this event three years ago.
Thomas Pieters ($8,600) Since his T-23 in September’s U.S. Open, the 29-year-old from Belgium has played just three times on the PGA TOUR. But it’s been a case of quality rather than quantity as his finishes in those trio of tournaments are T-15, T-13 and T-8. He’s been playing nicely in Europe too and racks up the birdies. Sign him up.
Matt Kuchar ($8,200) Like Scheffler, Kooch played all seven rounds at the WGC-Match Play and paid for it down the line (MC at Augusta two weeks later). But either side of the Masters he was T-12 at the Texas Open and T-18 at the RBC Heritage. Adding in his third place in the Match Play and he has four top 12s in his last five Texas starts, a place where he’s traditionally racked up top 10 after top 10.
Ben Martin ($7,400) Another whose name pops up when investigating TPC Craig Ranch form. Martin was T-13 in the 2012 Korn Ferry closer and also posted T-9 in the second tier’s TPC San Antonio Championship in July. Fast forward to recent times and he was T-11 at Wells Fargo last week, T-34 in April’s Texas Open and T-9 at March’s Corales Puntacana.
James Hahn ($7,300) Let’s sift for gold again in those past Korn Ferry events at TPC Craig Ranch. Another player to emerge is James Hahn, who finished runner-up in 2012. He was also third in the 2017 Byron Nelson Championship and is in the top 25% for Par Breakers this season. He tends to be a course horse so back at a venue he’s performed well at, Hahn can thrive once more.
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- A couple of good alternative picks to help you build out GPP options based around not one but two CORE lineups.
Here’s A Hi-Low Lineup For The AT&T Byron Nelson
|Player #1||J. Spieth||$10,700|
|Player #2||B. Koepka||$9,900|
|Player #3||S. Burns||$9,300|
|Player #4||H. Higgs||$7,000|
|Player #5||J. Teater||$6,600|
$200 leftover salary
Jordan Spieth ($10,700) Spieth has won three times before Majors. Spieth is brilliant in his home state. Spieth has a win and four other top threes in his last seven strokeplay starts. It’s a perfect storm really and after winning the Texas Open and following it with a top three at Augusta National, expect the good times to keep on rollin’ here.
Brooks Koepka ($9,900) The risk element is obvious. Koepka had recent knee surgery and missed the cut on his comeback event, the Masters. But the undulations of Augusta put extra pressure on his joints and he’s a month further on in his rehab. On this much flatter course, Koepka is capable of a big week. Before going under the knife he had a win and a second in his previous three starts and the four-time Major champ also boasts a stellar record in Texas.
Sam Burns ($9,300) A winner at the Valspar on his latest start, taking Wells Fargo week off was probably a smart move. With the dust settled and adrenaline becalmed, Burns has the game to thrive again here. He’s seventh for Birdie Average this season (second best in the field) and posted T-7 in the Houston Open in November. His red-hot putter is the perfect weapon for this test.
Harry Higgs ($7,000) A winner on the Korn Ferry two years with 22-under, Higgs knows how to rack up the birdies. Indeed, check the Birdie Average standings and you’ll find him in a very healthy T-24. The Safeway Open runner-up has mixed form but T-19 at The Honda Classic was a nice effort and he’s shot some low scores in Texas events too.
Josh Teater ($6,600) The veteran is only a hair outside the top 25% for Birdie Average this season and has made his last eight cuts. Six of those were on the PGA TOUR while the last two came via top 25s on the Korn Ferry. That’s a nice combination for this week as we seek to balance out our team.
Aaron Baddeley ($6,300) Getting an Aussie on board in Texas is no bad thing and Baddeley has an under-the-radar top five on the Korn Ferry just two starts ago. He’s made two of his last three PGA TOUR cuts and, with scoring set to be low, there’s more emphasis on his strong suit (the putter) than on other parts of his game.
Other Player Options For The AT&T Byron Nelson
• Daniel Berger is a legitimate option at over $10,000. Six of his nine starts this season have resulted in top 20s and that includes a win at Pebble. Won the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas last summer.
• Will Zalatoris has taken a step back (MC, T-42) since his golden week at Augusta but he’ll be knocking at the door again soon. Texas resident.
• Bryson DeChambeau Beyond the obvious, note that he’s a Dallas resident and admits he likes the course. The big spend may prove worthwhile.
• Jon Rahm MC last week but give the guy a break. Prior to that he’d racked up seven top 10s in nine starts.
• Ryan Palmer Form has dipped a little but he’s the course record holder here with 61.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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