This week the PGA Tour heads to Texas for the AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Criag Ranch. Craig Ranch is a new course for the tour and will be a fun new test. TPC Craig Ranch plays as a par 72 and 7,450 yards.
A new course always brings interesting challenges when handicapping an event. The fact that it takes place in Texas may help give us something to go off of though with a few other events being played there.
Texas courses typically are tree lined with some water and can favor the longer hitters. Firm and fast fairways and greens should be expected and if the wind picks up, things could get much more difficult.
I would expect to see low scores based on the scorecard with no really long par fives and a couple reachable par fours. It will be interesting to see how they set up the course compared to what we know now.
Par five scoring should be key with the gettable par fives and the low scoring. SG: Approach will be important as always especially if this is a birdie fest. Big, bentgrass greens can be tricky but present lots of opportunities.
Leaning toward guys who are excellent iron players with a little extra length would make sense here. Also, guys who have had some success in Texas previously at the Byron Nelson, Valero or in Houston.
One thing to consider is that the PGA Championship is next week and many top players will be treating this as a tune up. I would expect someone down the board a bit to take home the win given the focus of some of the top players.
Ultimately the field here is pretty strong but trying to figure out which guys are looking ahead will be tough. Look for some guys with value that should definitely be focused on this week.
There is some nice value this week with so many guys at the top of the board. The range I usually like to bet for outrights is full of nice options for the first time in a while. Quail Hollow sets up nice for some of the players in the best form right now.
Will Zalatoris +2200 (DraftKings)
Despite coming off his first missed cut since last fall, I still love Zalatoris this week. Zalatoris should feel at home in Texas and his makes sense as a fit here. He hits in long and has been one of the top approach players on tour.
Zalatoris has had a crazy ride over the last 10 months or so and has been featured heavily in this article. His approach play is second to only Morikawa and JT. He actually ranks 1st in this field in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds.
Zalatoris’s famiiliarity with Texas as a relative native should help this week as well. He really needs a win to qualify himself for the FedEx Cup Playoffs so he should be properly motivated this week despite the looming major.
Ryan Palmer +4000 (DraftKings)
Palmer is another Texas guy who is playing some nice golf of late. He has made twelve straight cuts and has six top 20 finishes to show for it during that stretch.
Palmer seems to love playing in Texas with some strong finishes at the other events hosted in his native state. Palmer definitely has the game and experience to compete on the hard and fast Texas tracks.
His game is trending pretty nicely with some solid numbers off the tee and on approach. He ranks top 25 in both of those categories for strokes gained and he ranks 2nd in SG: Par Fives.
Palmer is pretty nice value at 40-1 and should be in the hunt come Sunday.
- Longshots I like: Thomas Pieters +7000 & Sebastian Munoz +10000
Scottie Scheffler +200
Another Texas native, Scheffler, is always a solid play in his home state. He’s got some nice finishes in a few starts in Texas and just finished runner up in some windy conditions at the WGC Matchplay in Austin.
Scheffler is playing some really nice golf with six top 20’s since the start of 2021. His iron play has really improved as he has gained strokes on approach in six of his last seven. Scheffler fits Texas golf with his bombs off the tee and improved iron game.
He should have the necessary experience if the strong winds decide to blow this week as well as he showed at the match play. Scheffler is also beyond due for a win as one of the most talented players who hasn’t won yet on tour.
- Longshot I like: Aaron Wise +550
Thomas Pieters +175
Pieters is likely a lesser known player to most Americans as he plays mostly in Europe. Pieters did play at the University of Illinois in college and has a fantastic track record in Europe.
Pieters has come across the pond to play some and has had some really solid finishes. He has two top 15’s in his starts on the tour this year and is probably underpriced given his talent and experience.
He has a nice game for Texas with long driving and solid iron play. Pieters is a bit of a hot head at times but he should be here gearing up for the major next week and trying to get his game ready.
The value is definitely here on Pieters because he is a bit unknown.
Talor Gooch +225
Gooch is a bit of mystery to me as he seems to have only one or two parts of his game going in a given week. He has shown the ability to do every part of the game well though.
Most players have a couple areas they always perform in while Gooch is a bit less consistent in that way but he has been playing some good golf. He is a midwest guy and played at Oklahoma St. so he should be familiar with Texas type courses and bentgrass greens.
I like Gooch’s length and solid iron play to shine this week.
Sebastian Munoz +275
Munoz falls into a similar category as Gooch as he can be a bit hot and cold. Munoz is a streaky guy who can really get it going low and sometimes that means it can go the other way.
Munoz is a proven winner on tour who quietly has seven top 25’s this season. I like Munoz this week specifically because of his track record in Texas.
Munoz has six starts combined at the Valero, Houston Open and this event and he has managed to finish in the top 30 in four of those.
His game makes sense for Texas and he seems to like playing here. I think this being a new course helps level the playing field a bit and Munoz should be able to put those good Texas vibes to work.
- Longshot I like: Kelly Kraft +1600
Thomas Pieters -114 over Alex Noren
Like I mentioned earlier, Pieters is undervalued here and I think thats true in this matchup as well. Noren has had a couple decent finishes of late but the underlying numbers do seem to indicate sustainability.
Noren ranks 88th in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds and is also outside the top 60 in SG: Approach and Opportunities Gained. I think he is getting by on smoke and mirrors and unsustainable chipping and putting.
Pieters numbers are significantly more reliable as he consistently gains off the tee and on approach. I like his game so much more and he is a better player than Noren.
Pieters should be an easy favorite here and it’s a pick’em which is nice value.
Wise is a former collegiate individual stroke play champ. His pedigree is there and he is a former winner of this event. His Texas track record is stellar as well.
Wise has played some nice golf lately and is starting to put it together after a rough start to his pro career on the tour. He was able to finish 9th last week at the Wells Fargo and has another top 20 in his last three starts.
Wise is a bit all or nothing but his experience in Texas and track record suggest that he is more likely to boom then bust this week. I like the odds for him this week as he is +188 to finish in the top 20.