The AT&T Byron Nelson Betting Approach by MattTizzardGolf
It’s the week before the PGA Championship. Many of the big guns return to the field in the Dallas suburb of McKinney. Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Xander Schauffele makes his first appearance at this event. Oh, and Scottie Scheffler returns to action after a couple of weeks off.
Last time out with the coupon
A loss on The PGA Tour at the Wells Fargo. With Brian Harman grabbing a place on Boyles Sport that has been split about a million different ways. I did have Olesen over on The DP World Tour but got way too trigger-happy having been attending the event. The week in total ended up +2.5 and the spreadsheet is all updated on the website. You will see I did go very over the top because I was at The Belfry! We live and learn!
If you are new to my golf articles, hello! I basically whip through my thought process, the analytics I have researched, and spew out some picks. Simples.
If you wanted to support my work you can by taking our exclusive Boyle Sports sign-up offer and grab £20 of free bets. Simply click the link below to get underway and take advantage of the £20 free bet offer!
After last week’s spend fest on Saturday at The Belfry I am +12.4u for the year.
TPC Craig Ranch – The Course
This Byron Nelson Betting preview is focused on the course, TPC Craig Ranch, a Par 72, 7468 yards. The course was a Korn Ferry qualifying course (Nationwide) but hosted The PGA Tour in 2021. We can look at last year for some guidance, however not a complete picture, which I will explain later in the article.
Tom Weiskopf designed the course, I read a quote in Golf Digest, “I may not give you access to every pin,” he once said, “but I’ll give you the middle of the green every time.” Weiskopf has a number of well-known courses that he has designed or co-designed, including Troon North GC, TPC Scottsdale, Loch Lomond, Scotland & Quail Hollow CC, Ohio.
As you research Weiskopf courses, the common theme writers mention is his love for a drivable par4, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the par 4 14th selected for the Aon Risk Reward Challenge.
The best way to describe the course is, well, “standard.” It is a standard 72 with 4 par 5s, 4 par 3s about 10 par 4s. It has the players’ favourite of bentgrass putting greens but the not so common Zoysia fairways. The greens are large, not quite the same size as the Mexico Open but on the larger size.
Zoysia Fairways are one of the most robust grasses and somewhat typical to see across Texas. Rickie Fowler was quoted saying he liked the surface having played on it while at College. Studies have shown that it’s expensive, dense but easy to manage with a low amount of water. Therefore, I can expect that despite the length of the course, the ball should roll out and play shorter than last year. Zoysia has been said to require a third of the water of its competitors in the soil. I understand from looking online that Texas holistically hasn’t had the same rainfall that it had last year. When the course was very much target golf. Don’t get me wrong, I do expect the same, but not quite to the extent as last year. The ball will run, and landing areas will be a little more important.
The organisers actually played this course 200 yards shorter one-day last year. That was also because of how wet the course was, and it became target golf. The course was as easy as it could have been. However, I do expect a low winning score, but I don’t think the cut will be quite -5 again.
Byron Nelson – Course Correlation
The recent venue of Vidanta (Mexico Open) and a course from earlier this year Plantation course Kapalua (tournament of Champions). TPC Deere Run is another easy course with the same bent grass greens that the players will face this week. My article will predominately focus on TPC Scottsdale due to it also being designed by Weiskopf.
It’s going to be roasting hot (33C) with some gusts (24KpH). This will provide a challenge to the players, but I don’t think will affect the birdie opportunities we are going to see!
Looking at the stats from last year, a 30,000 feet look tells me that iron play and putting is the key to win here. However, I think making all decisions based on last year’s stats is a risky approach. The course was straightforward off the tee and into the approach. Weiskopf courses will always give you access to the centre of the green and it was a lot wetter than it will be this year.
Therefore, I am going to ignore our classic short game experts. The reason for that is, if we are looking at players that grind and graft well for par. I think those players won’t be competing at the top of the leaderboard because I expect birdies. The complete opposite of last week at the Wells Fargo.
TPC Craig Ranch ranks 2nd in Strokes gained in approach out of 43 correlated courses on rickrungood.com and 7th in putting. Perhaps, the picture has been made already.
You also need to find players that are accurate, however, and to my surprise, driving distance is ranked 39th. This means you can find many players that are good in the approach and good putters. The caveat and where I need to be careful, is I need to be sure that my picks have and can get to -20. It could quite easily be that low of a week.
This correlates well with TPC Scottdale, another Weiskopf design course. Where the approach is of upmost importance (ranked 6th / 43 correlated courses: rickrungood.com)
Therefore, these are the stats I will look into, I will then take my picks
- Driving Accuracy
- Strokes Gained in Approach
- Strokes Gained in Putting
- Putting 15 feet
Here are the Top 20 most accurate Drivers on The PGA Tour this year.
The fairways are massive here, but I am keen to see if there are any players that are leading in SGAPR or on the putting green that complete the package. There isn’t too much to shout about, but I wanted to demonstrate my thought process when narrowing down a field. I am not as weighted towards Driving Accuracy, as I was at The RBC or Wells Fargo, because these are much wider fairways that the players will be aiming at.
Strokes Gained in Approach
I just can’t bring myself to back Kitayama again. However, he is the leader in the field over the last 25 rounds in shots gained through approach (1.39). Other leaders in the field include.
- Justin Thomas 1.03
- David Lipsky 0.89
- Adam Hadwin 0.84
- Jhonattan Vegas 0.84
- Scottie Scheffler 0.68
- Brandon Wu 0.76
- Austin Smotherman 0.76
Strokes Gained in Putting
Ok, this is where we start to hit some players that I like the look of. Let’s once more look at the best 20 players holistically on tour.
|RANK THIS WEEK||PLAYER NAME||ROUNDS||AVERAGE|
This is where I can start to find some players that I like. Again, we cannot ignore Scottie Scheffler. Brendon Todd, who ran well for me in Mexico appears, as does Tommy Fleetwood, who has gained on average a boeing 0.747 in shots gained putting. This is good to see from Tommy, I have watched him for many years. It’s the Driver and the Putter that can slow him down.
Putting 15 feet
Players that lead in this field of note include, Adam Long, Sam Ryder who led at stages last year and Nate Lashley. The best on tour is Sung Kang, who I have quoted in the podcast as being last years winner. That will go down well with the betting community!
The top of the leaderbaord is pretty strong. I can see DJ or JT winning, so I will back JT, but I am not too worried about Xander & Brooks. Scottie won’t win again…. Right?
Finally, everyone knows my love for Kurt Katayama. My thoughts are that this field is much deeper and Kitty’s form will unfortunately come to an end. I expect to take one last bullet on Talor Gooch, Kurt Kitayama or Brandon Wu.
Zalatoris was once more exceptional at The Masters, but time has ticked on. I know Will is going to be tipped left, right and centre this week and for good reason.
It’s a ball-striking paradise and I like his game where iron play is key, especially some of the longer irons. The concern is that it’s going to be a putting competition, particularly with that middle of the green access you get here.
However, Will putted well at The Masters. I am fully aware that watching that putting action for 72 holes is going to be tough going but I am happy to accept the challenge. He will find the middle of the greens, and if he can roll it, he can be in with a shout.
When I ran my model for this week Will was 8th, only the market leaders really featured ahead. I do believe a winner will be in “pot 2” of the talent for the week. With all eyes on The PGA Championship next week, Will is a player I like to have a little extra focus and get the win.
Tommy needs a win on The PGA Tour. The week before a major just feels right. Nothing to statical in that assumption but it’s fair to say again that players above him in the market will be focussing on sharpening up for next week.
I have watched Tommy for many years on the European Tour and recently The PGA Tour. When I last watched him closely was at in the middle east, where his driver was spraying and predominately being lost to the right.
Tommy has excelled in the middle east many years, and those courses are a little firm, long but wide. I am not supporting this with data; however, I feel some of the tournament in Abu Dhabi & the Dubai Dessert Classic, will have some performance-based correlation. Again, this is from what I have seen rather than being data driven and more my own personal opinion. For what it’s worth.
Potentially more factually, anyone who saw him at The Masters can certainly presume that this has been fixed and the data suggests the same. He has improved off the tee over the last 12 rounds. He actually gains nearly 2 shot in total SG, this was only 0.14 in his previous 36, he is certainly trending.
I was shocked to see Tommy performing so well on the greens and this was the final piece of the puzzle for me (maybe an oversight I wasn’t aware). I did my first TikTok about a month ago and I said after The Masters, I will be tracking Tommy. Let the tracking begin.
Nate is a player that pops up for me time and time again. I am pulling the trigger on him for a number of reasons. The first one is his recent performance in Mexico on a “birdie fest, showed that the birdies he probably needs to make this week is possible. He also has a similar result from Puerto Rico earlier this year where he cam T7.
In the correlated courses he has a T3 and T17 at the WM Phoenix Open (2020 & 2021). He has a T19 at the Tournament of Champions and a recent T11 in Mexico.
Lashley from a statistical point of view, fits well for this course. The only area I did have concerns was driving distance, but I think the course will play shorter than last year due to the run. Statically, length isn’t as much as a fact of Mexico a fortnight ago.
He gains marginally in the approach and gains 0.68 shots putting. Given his form, this shows in Mexico and Puerto Rico, this shows me the long game is good enough to hit the greens. I have the thinking that I can’t risk players that don’t excel in iron play this week. If you are missing these relatively easy greens, then you won’t be placing, fact.
My angle on Nate is the positive trend with the putter. In his last 36 rounds he was losing 0.70 shots whereas now he is gaining. The long game also has improved in that time as well. His Total SG is currently sat at 0.72 in his last 12, where it was -0.46 in the last 36.
The trends are good, the course fits and I think that Nate will be a good price. Obviously the quality of this field compared to a Puerto Rico or Mexico Open is a stark difference. However, Nate can reach the number, and a good price at 10 places or a Top 20 bet is what I will be taking.
Summary of picks
- Justin Thomas 1u
- Tommy Fleetwood 0.5u EW
- Will Zalatoris 0.5u EW
- Nate Lashley 0.25u EW
I will fire one last bullet as discussed but I am not sure where yet. Awaiting for the Lost fore Words and / or Chasing Pars lads to do their thing.
I hope you enjoyed my Byron Nelson Betting preview. Please feel free to feedback any thoughts and if you wish to follow me, my social buttons are below, they are all @MattTizzardGolf
Good luck this week, see you Thursday on the pod!