Weekly Preview: AT&T Byron Nelson

Weekly Preview: AT&T Byron Nelson

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

AT&T Byron Nelson

TPC Craig Ranch
McKinney, TX

The PGA Tour heads back to Texas for the final tune-up before the PGA Championship at TPC Craig Ranch. If you are wondering what the Craig Ranch is, you're not alone. The first time this course came into my consciousness was when I sat down to write, which means it's one of those weeks where there's no course history. 

I'm probably not alone when I say that as much as I like to see new courses, it's kind of a pain for fantasy purposes, as there isn't much beyond recent form to go on when speculating who will play well this week and who won't. At least we have plenty of recent form, right? It's not like it's January – we've seen most these guys play multiple times in recent months, so we should have some idea how they will fare, regardless of the new track. Aside from that, with so many youngsters on Tour now, we also have a good feel for who will succeed on new tracks, such as Viktor Hovland and Will Zalatoris, guys that have plenty experience as first-timers and have fared just fine. Maybe that's the key with these new courses – just stick to the guys that can adapt to new tracks and avoid those that seemingly only play well on courses they are familiar with, like Bubba Watson. For the record, Bubba is not in the field this week and neither is Hovland,

AT&T Byron Nelson

TPC Craig Ranch
McKinney, TX

The PGA Tour heads back to Texas for the final tune-up before the PGA Championship at TPC Craig Ranch. If you are wondering what the Craig Ranch is, you're not alone. The first time this course came into my consciousness was when I sat down to write, which means it's one of those weeks where there's no course history. 

I'm probably not alone when I say that as much as I like to see new courses, it's kind of a pain for fantasy purposes, as there isn't much beyond recent form to go on when speculating who will play well this week and who won't. At least we have plenty of recent form, right? It's not like it's January – we've seen most these guys play multiple times in recent months, so we should have some idea how they will fare, regardless of the new track. Aside from that, with so many youngsters on Tour now, we also have a good feel for who will succeed on new tracks, such as Viktor Hovland and Will Zalatoris, guys that have plenty experience as first-timers and have fared just fine. Maybe that's the key with these new courses – just stick to the guys that can adapt to new tracks and avoid those that seemingly only play well on courses they are familiar with, like Bubba Watson. For the record, Bubba is not in the field this week and neither is Hovland, but Zalatoris is, and he's coming in off his first missed cut since October, so everything I just pointed to could wind up mostly irrelevant. You've got to love new courses!

LAST YEAR

This tournament was not held last year, but in 2019 Sung Kang shot a final-round 67 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Matt Every and Scott Piercy.

FAVORITES

Bryson DeChambeau (8-1)

I mentioned this past week that DeChambeau's 14-1 odds seemed high, and while he didn't win, he did play extremely well on the weekend. I also mentioned that there seem to be two distinct versions of DeChambeau now: he's either on or off, and rarely in-between. We saw both this past week, but since he was "on" more recently, I'm going to assume that's the guy we'll see this week. There's never much value in betting a golfer at this number, but for my money, he's the top pick.

Jon Rahm (8-1)

Rahm's missed cut at the Wells Fargo Championship might have just been a blip on the radar and not an indication of a larger problem, as prior to that he posted four consecutive top-10s. With that said, he has not won this season and has just one top-3, so while he is playing well he's not finishing like the Rahm we are used to seeing. This number seems a little steep considering the competition and his recent inability to seal the deal.

THE NEXT TIER

Matthew Fitzpatrick (20-1)

I'd like to see a little better odds on Fitzpatrick, but these are favorable enough to give him a good, long look. Fitzpatrick seems destined to break through for his first PGA Tour victory at some point, and I think that's more likely to come at a standard event as opposed to a major. He's been off for three weeks, which is a little concerning, but his most recent start resulted in a T4 at the RBC Heritage.

Marc Leishman (28-1)

When we last saw Leishman, he was hoisting the trophy at the Zurich Classic with teammate Cameron Smith. While the team title doesn't carry as much weight at one secured in a stroke-play event, Leishman still had to play very well to win that week. That wasn't his only taste of success this spring, either, as he posted a T5 two weeks prior at The Masters. The only concern here is that Leishman hasn't played solo since his trip to Augusta, so we can't be exactly sure where his game is at. That's why he's listed at this number, though.

Sam Burns (28-1)

I have wondered recently if Burns would take off after grabbing his first PGA Tour win or go the complacent route. It's not always so cut and dry, but that first win seems to change things for most golfers. My gut tells me Burns will have more success now that he's picked up that first win, and while he's not likely to find it right away, he is at a pretty appealing price for someone who was on top of his game as recently as two weeks ago.

LONG SHOTS

Harris English (50-1)

Remember this guy? He won the Tournament of Champions this past January, and while his game has dropped off a bit since then, he's still a solid player who has already won this season. With that in mind, I was shocked to see him sitting at 60-1 to open the week. As noted next to his name, it did not take long for that number to drop. Is he likely to win? No. However, he's a proven winner not that far removed from some really good golf, so why not take a crack?

Keith Mitchell (66-1)

This number is a little surprising as well, and I would expect it to come down some before Thursday because Mitchell has played some really good golf lately. Not only did he contend this past week on his way to a T3, he posted a T4 at the Zurich Classic alongside Brandt Snedeker. Mitchell has always been extremely streaky, but he appears to be in the middle of a hot streak right now, making it the time to strike.

ONE-AND-DONE LEAGUES

Highly-owned Pick: Bryson DeChambeau - It's hard to argue with this pick, as DeChambeau looks like he's rounding into form. The only thing holding me back from using him here is the PGA Championship next week. If he is truly in form, I'd just as soon use him for that tournament, when the winner's share will be around $2 million. Of course, the competition will be a lot tougher than it will be in Texas.

Moderately-owned Pick: Jordan Spieth - It's rare that a golfer makes his first appearance in this article in this section, but since Spieth did not open among the top three favorites – he is now up to third after Dustin Johnson (knee) withdrew – and his initial price of 12-1 doesn't exactly qualify him for the next tier, I had nowhere to include him until now. With that said, he looks like a solid play, with my only concern being his long layoff since the Masters.

Lightly-owned Pick: Keith Mitchell - Mitchell may not win this week, but if recent performance is indeed an indication of future returns, he is a great play. Mitchell has won on the PGA Tour before, so he knows how to deal with the pressure of a Sunday lead. While he didn't close in style this past week, he still managed to bring home a big check. My only concern here is that if you go with him, it will wind up a week too late.

Buyer Beware: Hideki Matsuyama - This will be Matsuyama's first start since his Masters win, and it's not a stretch to assume he is not quite back on Earth just yet. Couple the major hangover with the fact that the PGA Championship is next week, and I have a hard time imagining that Matsuyama will be fully focused on this week's event.

Last Week: Emiliano Grillo - T14 - $143,775

Season Total: $3,724,738

This Week: Jordan Spieth - I'm a little worried that Spieth will be really popular this week. But I know he was used by plenty at the Masters, and with some big names at the top of the board perhaps he won't be chosen by as many as anticipated. Another area of concern is his value down the road. Although he seems to be back in form, I'm not sure he's ready to win another major just yet. I know, I'm splitting hairs, but I just feel more comfortable using him at a non-major for now.

FANDUEL PICKS

Upper Range: Jordan Spieth ($11,800)
Middle Range: Marc Leishman ($10,900)
Lower Range: Patton Kizzire ($8,500)

SURVIVOR LEAGUES

Last Week: Patrick Reed - T6

Streak: 1

This Week: Jordan Spieth - I'm going with Spieth again here, as I can't see a scenario where he misses the cut, outside of him completely losing his game again during his absence. Besides, he's all the way back, right? It's always tough making a pick in this format when so few are familiar with the course, so you need to find guys that grind and don't give up if things aren't going well, especially with a major on the horizon. I could easily envision some golfers checking out after a poor start, but not Spieth.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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