This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
AT&T BYRON NELSON
Winner's Share: $1,458M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: McKinney, Texas
Course: TPC Craig Ranch
2020 champion: None
Well, here we go again. Byron Nelson was able to win on any golf course, so perhaps its fitting that the tournament that bears his name will be played at a third different track in five years. Following years at TPC Four Seasons and two editions at Trinity Forest, followed by a missed pandemic year, the tournament will move out of Dallas County for the first time in its illustrious eight-decade history to TPC Craig Ranch. The 2004 Tom Weiskopf design is located about 35 miles north of the city of Dallas. More on the course in a moment, but first to the field in this final tuneup before next week's PGA Championship.
The 156-man contingent looked quite robust on Friday – but a little less on Monday, after Dustin Johnson withdrew with a knee injury. There still are two of the top four golfers in the world in Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau. The field also includes Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka playing for the first time since the Masters and Hideki Matsuyama playing for the first time since winning the Masters. There are also bold-face names in Rickie Fowler, Will Zalatoris, Jason Day, Lee Westwood, Sam Burns and noted Texan Sergio Garcia, so it could make for a compelling tuneup to the year's second major. But after nine of the top-25 in the world and 17 of the top-50, the quality of the field falls dramatically, deep into the 2018-19 reordered Korn Ferry list and 126-150 on the PGA Tour priority order.
Still, the star power is a vast improvement from the last time the Byron Nelson was contested in 2019, when none other than Sung Kang defeated Scott Piercy and Matt Every in a nail-zzzzzzz. Back then, one of the biggest names in the tournament was ... Tony Romo. He missed the cut by a mere nine strokes, though that was actually better than four other real golfers who completed 36 holes. (Romo has played Craig Ranch at least once before, failing in local qualifying for the 2019 U.S. Open.)
Two other names of note in this year's field are former U.S. Amateur champ Tyler Strafaci making his pro debut and John Catlin, an American who has won three times in the past year on the European Tour. At No. 78 in the world, Catlin will also be in the field for the PGA.
TPC Craig Ranch's previous claim to fame was playing host to the 2008 and 2012 Korn Ferry Tour Championships. The winning scores were 16- and 17-under, though it played as a par-71. Early indications are that the pros could chew it up this week and break 20-under. The track is not especially long for a par-72. In fact, all four par-5s are reachable in two by a good chunk of field, as the longest is 569 yards on the scorecard. No. 18 is a par-5. Three of the par-3s surpass 200 yards and six par-4s exceed 450 yards. But there are also short par-4s, including two that re semi-drivable, the 361-yard 6th and the 330-yard 14th. There are three-lined fairways leading to bentgrass greens that border on large (averaging almost 7,000 square feet). There is prominent water all along the course, on 14 of the 18 holes, mainly in the name of Rowlett Creek.
Craig Ranch will be around for a while. The PGA Tour announced a five-year agreement with the course, though it's not known whether it's been guaranteed to keep the spot on the calendar before the PGA. For now, though, the Nelson will be the PGA lead-in for the third time in four years.
Weather-wise, a cool, rainy practice week could lengthen the course. But it's forecast to be sunny and warming up into the 70s by Thursday, so tee times will not matter. There's a chance of rain on Sunday. As always in Texas, wind could be critical. The first two days look moderate but on the weekend it could be blowing.
Key Stats to Winning at TPC Craig Ranch
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.
• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Driving Distance/Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
• Par-5 Scoring/Par-5 Birdie-or-Better Percentage
2020 - None
2019 - Sung Kang (Trinity Forest)
2018 - Aaron Wise (Trinity Forest)
2017 - Billy Horschel (TPC Four Seasons)
2016 - Sergio Garcia (TPC Four Seasons)
2015 - Steven Bowditch (TPC Four Seasons)
2014 - Brendon Todd (TPC Four Seasons)
2013 - Sangmoon Bae (TPC Four Seasons)
2012 - Jason Dufner (TPC Four Seasons)
2011 - Keegan Bradley (TPC Four Seasons)
2010 - Jason Day (TPC Four Seasons)
There are tree-lined fairways that are pretty wide-open. We could definitely see this track favoring the longer hitters, especially with none of the par-5s even reaching 570. With a lot of water all around, accurate iron play takes on even more emphasis. And with the greens on large side, that tends to favor the better putters. Golfodds.com puts the over/under on the winning score at 266.5 – 21.5 under par.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Bryson DeChambeau - $11,200 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 8-1)
Anytime a track favors long hitters but also requires good putting, DeChambeau should go toward the top of the list. He's coming off a sterling weekend at Quail Hollow that saw him zoom up the leaderboard into the top 10 after making the cut on the number. He is third on Tour in par-5 birdie-or-better percentage, first in eagles per hole and ninth in birdie average.
Jon Rahm - $11,000 (8-1)
Last week's missed cut was a shocker. Not only because Rahm doesn't miss many cuts but because he finishes in the top-10 almost every week. That said, it is somewhat curious, as it is with DeChambeau, why they are playing three straight weeks culminating in a major, but that's more of an issue for next week. Rahm is ranked 12th in par-5 birdie-or-better and, again like DeChambeau, should devour them this week.
Jordan Spieth - $10,700 (10-1)
He's a Texan, he plays well in Texas and, best of all, he's Jordan Spieth again. A week after winning the Valero Texas Open, Spieth tied for third at the Masters. He's been resting ever since. The wider fairways should somewhat negate what's still his biggest trouble area – wayward drives. Spieth is not a longer hitter but is ranked 17th in par-5 birdie-or-better.
Brooks Koepka - $9,900 (20-1)
Koepka took six weeks off after right knee surgery, returned for the Masters and missed the cut. He probably returned too soon. Now he's had another five weeks to rehab and rest. But still this is a gamble. He had finally turned it around after recovering from his left knee injury, winning at Phoenix and finishing second at the WGC-Workday. Statistically, he's a great fit this week – he's a long hitter, ranked sixth in putting, 14th in birdie average and 29th in par-5 birdie-or-better.
Tier 2 Values
Ryan Palmer - $9,100 (40-1)
Palmer has said in interviews he has played at and is familiar with Craig Ranch. The Texan has decent form coming in, and hasn't missed a cut since last September's U.S. Open. He has seven top-25s in his 13 subsequent starts. Palmer is ranked seventh on Tour in both eagles per hole and par-5 birdie-or-better, and 14th in birdie average.
Sergio Garcia - $9,000 (40-1)
Yes, we did say that putting matters a great deal week. But that shouldn't eliminate Garcia from lineup consideration altogether because his tee-to-green game is elite. He's ranked second on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee (behind only DeChambeau), second in eagles per hole (again, behind DeChambeau) and fourth in par-5 birdie-or-better (one spot behind you-know-who). Garcia was playing decently until the Masters, but he hasn't played well there since winning it in 2017.
Si Woo Kim - $8,800 (40-1)
Here's something we didn't think we'd be writing anytime soon: Kim appears to be stabilizing and finding consistency. Perhaps it's the great relationship with caddie Brian Vranesh, but Kim was ninth at THE PLAYERS, 12th at the Masters and has made five straight cuts. And of course he won the Amex earlier this year. Kim is decent statistically across the board – 50th in greens in regulation, 57th in birdie average, 45th in par-5 birdie-or-better.
Charl Schwartzel - $8,100 (60-1)
This is a hefty price for someone ranked 157th in the world but here's why: Schwartzel is coming off top-25s at the Wells Fargo and the Valspar, and just missed a top-25 at the Masters. And that doesn't include his runner-up with Louis Oosthuizen at the Zurich. It could be a real return to consistent play for the former top-10 player derailed a few years ago by a wrist injury, or it could be temporary and end at any time.
Tier 3 Values
Cameron Champ - $8,000 (100-1)
Champ has steadied after a rough start to 2021, having made three cuts in a row coming in if you include the Zurich with Tony Finau (and we would like you to include it!). In his last singles event, he just missed a top-25 at the Masters. Champ of course is one of the longest off the tee. He's been betrayed by his short game, especially his putting. But he's been better on the greens of late, both at the Valero and the Masters.
Carlos Ortiz - $7,800 (60-1)
Ortiz's stats suggest he could play well this week. The thing is, he hasn't been playing well for a couple of months now. At least he made the cut last week at Quail Hollow, after missing three in a row in stroke-play events. So, a ray of light? Ortiz averages over 300 off the tee, ranks 57th in greens in regulation, 41st in birdie average, 10th in eagles per hole and 31st in par-5 birdie-or-better. Again, those are season-long numbers.
Sebastian Munoz - $7,600 (100-1)
Munoz has struggled a bit of late but should be able to make somewhat of a dent in this watered-down-at-the-bottom field. He's pretty good in birdie average (ranked 37th) and par-5 birdie-or-better (38th) and not too bad in greens in regulation (78th). In this field, those numbers would get you in the Golf Hall of Fame.
Brandt Snedeker - $7,400 (100-1)
Boy, Snedeker was playing really poorly for a long time, making you wonder whether turning 40 indicated his best days were over. Well, they probably are, but he has been showing flashes of late, following up a tie for sixth at the Valero with a T11 at the Valspar (then again, maybe he's good only at tournaments beginning with a V.). Snedeker has made three cuts in a row after only two total all year beforehand. He's not the putter he once was but is still ranked a better-than-average 56th. Ditto ranked 89th in par-5 birdie-or-better.
Wyndham Clark - $7,000 (150-1)
We turned to Clark last week at the Wells Fargo and he at least made the cut (T43), giving him four in a row. A long hitter who had been struggling on the greens, Clark putted okay at Quail Hollow. He's ranked 69th on Tour in par-5 birdie-or-better.
Nate Lashley - $6,600 (250-1)
This is probably our most conservative play among the long shots. Lashley has made 11 of his 18 cuts. He's not a long hitter, but he has a slightly better than average short game, both wedge and putter. He's ranked 128th in par-5 birdie-or-better.
Sung Kang - $6,500 (300-1)
He's in the unfortunate position of being defending champion the year they switch courses. But it's not all bad. In fact, potentially quite good. Kang is reportedly a member of Craig Ranch. And his second-best result on Tour was also in Texas, runner-up at the 2017 Houston Open. On the negative side, he hasn't so much as finished in the top-50 in his past 12 starts and missed eight cuts. We'd call that a negative, wouldn't you?
Ryan Brehm - $6,200 (600-1)
This is a real GPP play, a big gamble. There are lots of terrible golfers in the field – but quite a few will make the cut. Brehm is six for 12 in that department this season. He is one of the longest hitters, ranked 12th in distance but wildly inaccurate. Still, he's a decent 87th in greens in regulation. He has a horrible short game, but if he can do enough on the short par-5s, he could surprise He is ranked top-25 on Tour in par-5 scoring and 26th in eagles per hole. And that's what DraftKings scoring is all about, right?