This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.
AT&T Byron Nelson Betting Preview
For a second time this season the Tour stops in the Dallas area, this time for the AT&T Byron Nelson. After two years at the uneventful links-style Trinity Forest Golf Club, the venue has moved just north of Dallas to TPC Craig Ranch, which will host the final tune-up before next week's PGA Championship. The course change has given a much-needed jolt to a tournament that has struggled to attract big names, as Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka are among the notable names in the field. Last time this event was held in 2019 – it was skipped last year due to the pandemic – long shot Sung Kang picked up his first Tour victory by two strokes over Scott Piercy and Matt Every.
A new Tour stop presents some challenges for handicappers, as we lack any course history and statistics to draw from. Playing as a par-72 at slightly under 7,500 yards, the course features wide fairways that will give the longer hitters a larger landing area than usual. With good weather and light winds expected, players will have plenty of opportunities to go low, particularly with four par-5s and a pair of driveable par-4s. Don't be surprised if the winning score checks in at 20-under-par or better. I'm targeting birdie makers this week, as well as golfers who have shown success in Texas or have ties to the state. With large greens also in play here, I'm de-emphasizing scrambling/around-the-green play and looking at players who excel off the tee and on approach.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 1:00 ET Tuesday.
Thriving in Texas
The following five players, with a minimum of 12 rounds, have the lowest scoring average in Texas since the beginning of 2019:
Although he lacks ties to the area, Koepka has played some of his best golf in the Lone Star State, notching a pair of top-5 finishes in three events held in Texas since 2019. He has also recorded two runner-up results over the last five years in Texas. Despite the success he checks in as the ninth choice on the board at 23-1 odds, as he is still not long removed from knee surgery. Another marquee name in the field is Spieth, who is third on the list at 11-1. A lifelong resident of nearby Dallas, Spieth will be the hometown favorite this week as he goes for his third in-state Tour victory. After failing to record a top-5 result during the 2019-20 season, Spieth has had an impressive turnaround with five such results this year alone, including a win in April at the Valero Texas Open.
Striking the Right Balance
These players have gained the most combined strokes off the tee and on approach over their last 20 rounds:
When you lack history at a track, targeting superb ball-strikers is a good way to go. Rahm tops the list, and he will be looking to bounce back from his first missed cut since play resumed last June after the pandemic hiatus. Last week's result was likely just an unusual minor blip, as Rahm was making his first start since The Masters. He looked uncharacteristically rusty with his short game, losing 3.97 strokes to the field. He's a good target at the top of the board, where he is listed as the co-favorite alongside Bryson DeChambeau at 8-1 odds. Another golfer who has excelled with his long game is Berger, and he ranks top-30 in all of Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, Approach and Putting. Berger has been a reliable DFS option this year, recording six top-20 finishes in nine starts.
Will Zalatoris (22-1)
Zalatoris has had a bit of a post-Masters hangover, as he's followed up his runner-up finish at Augusta with a T42 result and a missed cut last week. Nevertheless, if there's a place for him to get back on track it's here, as the lifelong Dallas area resident knows the course well. It's hard to find a flaw in Zalatoris' game, and he's quickly emerged as one of the best iron players on Tour.
Marc Leishman (35-1)
Leishman has had his fair share of ups-and-downs since the start of 2020, reaching No. 15 in the world pre-pandemic and really struggling afterward. It took him until this year to find his form, and he has made up for lost time, notching a pair of top-5 results over his last eight stroke-play events and winning the Zurich Classic with partner Cameron Smith. Leishman will have some familiarty with the course, having finished T7 at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship held at TPC Craig Ranch in 2008.
Aaron Wise (70-1)
A former winner of this event back in 2018, Wise struggled through most of 2019 and 2020 before finding his form last fall. He picked up his first runner-up result in over two years at the Mayakoba Classic – an event with a similar strength of field that this week's has – and has four top-15 results over his last 11 appearances. Wise is coming off a solid week at Quail Hollow, where he ranked fifth in SG: Tee-to-Green but continued to struggle with the putter.
Charl Schwartzel (5-1)
After cashing a winning top-10 wager each of the past two weeks I'll look to keep the momentum going with Schwartzel, who has quietly played solid golf since April, notching three top-30 results in stroke-play events and falling to Leisman and Smith in the Zurich Classic playoff while paired with parter Louis Oosthuizen. Traditionally a solid putter, Schwartzel struggled with the flat stick at Quail Hollow, but he didn't record an over-par round and finished third in SG: Tee-to-Green.
Patton Kizzire (9-1)
Kizzire's last two results in Texas netted finishes of T9 and T11, and with three top-10 results in his last 13 events, there is plenty of value in this wager. Kizzire's inaccuracy with the driver shouldn't be much of a deterrent this week.
Tom Hoge (9-1)
Hoge has yet to record a top-10 this year, but his all-around game is too solid for that streak to continue much longer. He has posted a pair of 12th place finishes this year – most recently at the Valero Texas Open, where he ranked fifth in SG: Tee-to-Green. Hoge is quietly one of the elite iron players on Tour, and he also played golf collegiately at nearby TCU.
Ghim has been a superb ball striker this year and has played better golf than his results would indicate. Ortiz made his first cut since the Match Play event at last week's Wells Fargo Championship, but he lost strokes to the field off the tee and on approach. His form of late has been too shaky to trust in a head-to-head matchup.
Kim is the more reliable option in this pick'em matchup, having finished no worse than T33 over his last four stroke-play events. He gained strokes both on approach and off the tee in each appearance during that stretch. Meanwhile, Garcia has been much more of a wild card, with his only top-10 this year coming at TPC Sawgrass, where he has a tremendous track record.