Click to expand AT&T Byron Nelson odds via BetMGM
AT&T Byron Nelson Odds
|Si Woo Kim||+6600|
|Charles Howell III||+10000|
|James Hart du Preez||+50000|
Fresh off a tourney where the winning total was single-digits under-par in cold, rainy weather, we should be back to a proverbial birdie-fest for this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson in hot, breezy conditions at TPC Craig Ranch. This tournament has yielded a 25-under winning tally in its initial hosting role last year, along with five other scores of at least 21-under and 25 at 15-under or better.
Unlike the past two events, this one will have more starpower before the year’s second major. Seven of the world’s top-13 players will be in attendance, including Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Sam Burns, Xander Schauffele and Hideki Matsuyama.
I’ve got plenty to write about a lot of different players this week, so let’s cut this intro short and get right to it, starting with an outright play in a range where I believe there’s some serious value.
One player to win the tournament.
Sebastian Munoz (+7500)
Well, if you happened to click this link for the first few hours it was posted on Monday morning, you would’ve noticed that I originally had Erik Van Rooyen as my favorite outright play. I liked everything about him – from the fact that he was trending in the right direction to his propensity for making birdies.
There was just one little issue: Not long after the piece was published, he withdrew. I’ll own that as a #JINX if you want me to, but really, EVR simply represented a sweet spot on the board where I wanted to throw a few darts.
Instead, I’ll pivot to Munoz, who is getting very close to Colombian Charles Howell III territory here – and as I’ve written in the past, that’s not an insult at all. In his last seven starts, Munoz has finished between 21st and 39th every single time, cashing some solid paychecks without ever once seriously contending for a title.
If the CH3 comparison doesn’t do this justice, he’s basically in a group with the likes of Russell Henley, Maverick McNealy and Brian Harman as guys who continue to grind out solid performances without much to show for it in the way of points or money or big-time results. Even so, I still think good things are on the horizon for all of the players I’ve mentioned here.
I’ll admit that Munoz might hold more value for prop plays where he can pay off that high floor, but I don’t mind taking a chance on his inevitable ceiling here. And just think: All of that Van Rooyen money we’ve saved from the WD can go toward a few other players in this range.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Will Zalatoris (+1400)
In many OAD contests, poolsters make their selections the week of the tournament, which essentially cuts down on any potential DNS results. I’m in one, however, where all picks must be made prior to the beginning of the year and another where we have three checkpoints, essentially submitting one-third of the picks on three different occasions.
For each of these two, I already locked in Zalatoris long ago for this one, in hopes that his flatstick is up for rolling in 25-30 birdie opportunities.
That said, if you’re taking this play and applying it to the betting markets, I hate the number. Listed at third on the initial board — ahead of DJ, Schauffele and Spieth — is way too short for a player with world-class ball-striking skills, but one who’s still seeking his first career victory.
Again, if you want to play him in OADs, I’m all-in on the game theory behind that selection. Betting him at 14-1, though, feels like a massive stretch.
Sam Burns (+2200)
Personally, I’ve got no issue saving Burns in OADs for one of the next two majors or a FedEx Cup playoff event. He’s proven himself to be one of the world’s best players and even though that’s been a rapid ascension, there’s no reason to believe he can’t perform on the biggest stages.
That said, if you’ve still got him left on your list, his win equity might not be better for the rest of the summer than it is this week. With a runner-up last year at Craig Ranch, he’s at least shown a liking for this track. With little else to go off, he’s a solid play if you have him left and don’t need to save him for elsewhere.
Jhonattan Vegas (+5500)
There are a few things I say about Vegas on a fairly regular basis — well, whenever I’m saying something about Vegas, that is.
The first is that if you just landed on this planet and could somehow analyze golf talent without knowing who the best players are, chances are you’d watch Jhonny for a few minutes and think he’s somewhere inside the world’s top-25 or so. He’s a big dude, hits it a long way, has nice control with his irons and good hands around the greens; there really isn’t anything not to like about his game.
The second thing I’ve often said about him is that he’s one of those momentum-type players. There are some guys who offer no signal when they’re about to climb a leaderboard. James Hahn, who hadn’t finished inside the top 60 of an event since last November and contended at the Wells Fargo this past weekend, might be the most extreme example.
These players are obviously the toughest to pin down from a prognostication standpoint. Many others, though, leave a trail of breadcrumbs behind, so that we can play detective while following the clues.
Vegas is among those near the top of this list. Essentially, when he’s not playing well, we stay away, but when he starts trending in the right direction, we should take note.
Following finishes of 15th-18th-4th-27th in his last four starts, all indications are that he’s once again dropping those breadcrumbs. It would be wise to follow ‘em.
Davis Riley (+6500)
Quick: Guess which player currently ranks 15th on the PGA TOUR in birdie average this season. If you guessed Riley, well, that makes a whole lot of sense, since his name is right above these sentences.
Anyway… in his rookie season, Riley has posted 233 total birdies, showing he isn’t afraid to aim at some flagsticks and play a bit aggressively. When last we saw him, he was busy finishing solo fifth in Mexico, posting four under-par rounds.
There’s some reason to believe, based on recent results, that Riley is most comfortable when the winning total is well below par, suggesting that this could be another strong week for him.
One player to finish top-five.
Dustin Johnson (+400 for top-five)
This remains one of my favorite current statistics, because it says a lot about us and how we look at these things and how we can shape them to fit our personal narratives: Since his most recent global victory last February, Johnson doesn’t own a single top-five finish in a stroke-play event. (He did reach the semifinals of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, resulting in a solo fourth-place result.) Then again, in 25 stroke-play starts since that win, he does own eight top-10s and 13 top-25s.
What that tells us is that DJ hasn’t seriously contended on the back nine of a Sunday afternoon, but he’s hardly playing poor golf, finishing in that top-25 range in half of his appearances.
With all of that in mind, I’ll back Johnson to break one of those streaks, finally posting a top-five finish this week. While it’s not very relevant, as he hasn’t played this tourney in a half-decade and hasn’t competed on this course, Johnson does own seven consecutive top-20s at this one, though only one top-five, way back in 2009.
One player to finish top-10.
Aaron Wise (+550 for top-10)
Let’s say you play Powerball every week. Instead of using the computer-generated numbers, though, you like picking your own, having some control over the result by choosing your lucky numbers each time. And let’s say that after a few months of playing Powerball, you still haven’t hit for some $183 million jackpot.
What do you do now? Well, one option, of course, is to just stop playing. If you’re going to continue, however, you might as well keep playing your lucky numbers. After all, think of the regret you’d have if you didn’t play ‘em and they suddenly hit one day.
This is essentially how I feel about Wise right now. I’ve played him enough over the past few months that I’ll feel some serious remorse if he wins and I’m not on him in some respect.
With three finishes of 21st-or-better in his last five starts, he’s trending in the right direction and could pull a Max Homa this week, winning the same event for a second time, but on a completely different golf course.
One player to finish top-20.
Lanto Griffin (+275 for top-20)
A couple of years ago, I wrote up a list of the top-10 ways we can make golf betting better. Amongst the ideas was adopting each-way wagering for American markets and offering up head-to-head matchups for any/every player in the field.
I’ve also argued that we should have low-round bets available for all four days of a tournament. You’ve heard of FRL (first-round leader) bets, right? Well, why don’t we have easily accessible betting on the low total for the second, third and fourth rounds, too? I know some readers are going to tweet me and say that this was available for the recent Masters or there’s some offshore book which does it. I get that. What I’m talking about is offering these odds on a daily basis prior to each round on mainstream platforms.
Anyway, the reason I’m writing about it here is because while Griffin wouldn’t quite have clinched the Sunday low each of the last two weeks, he was close in both instances, posting a 65 in Mexico and a 67 at Potomac. Rory McIlroy has spent much of his adult life being criticized by golf fans for “backdoor” top-five finishes, but I always like prop bets on guys who do their most damage on a Sunday afternoon. That’s what Griffin has done lately and I like playing him for a top-20 — at the absolute very least — this week.
One player to finish top-30.
Continuing the prevailing theme that players who make a lot of birdies should be given more consideration this week, Theegala only ranks in the middle of the pack as far as birdie average, but he has made the third-most total birdies this season.
That might only matter for quantity, but as much as I wrote for Wise above, I’m sort of pot-committed on Theegala, as he continues to be one of my favorite targets in multiple formats. Considering he’s finished top-30 in three of his last five starts, a top-30 play feels like the right spot.
One player to finish top-40.
Dylan Frittelli (+140 for top-40)
It doesn’t take a Texan to understand that Houston, San Antonio and DFW don’t have much in common but the same borders, yet it’s worth noting that Frittelli, a South African who went to school in Austin and lives there now, finished T-19 and T-8 at those previously mentioned two tourney venues.
He’s been a bit all-or-nothing so far this year, but there’s no doubting that Frittelli owns some offensive firepower, which make him an intriguing play not just for conservative props like this one, but up to top-20 and maybe even top-10.
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
At various times during the past decade, I’ve spoken with some of the world’s best players about a mindset which Tiger Woods made famous — how to get their games to peak four times per year. The answers have often ranged from, “Uhh…” to a shoulder shrug, but when I asked Spieth, he went deep into an analytical breakdown of how he’s learned to prepare himself for the biggest events.
That said, the key to “peaking” might be simply that many of the world’s most-talented players put a little extra effort and determination into the majors. Ironically enough, Spieth is essentially the antithesis of this mindset — and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. Quite the contrary, really, as he essentially puts everything he has into every shot of every round of every tourney, no matter the inherent importance.
Case in point: Spieth’s most recent two victories have come in the week before the Masters (last year) and the week after the Masters (this year), essentially proving that he’s not averse to peaking on non-major weeks, either. While it’s conceivable that some of his world-class cohorts keep a foot off the gas pedal this week, in advance of next week’s PGA Championship, I have a tough time thinking Spieth will – or even can – keep himself from trying to play his absolute best golf, especially at a tourney which has meant so much to him over the years.
Despite nine previous attempts at the event he first played as a high-schooler in 2010, last year represented his first top-10 finish, suggesting the new venue might be more to his liking than previous hosts.
A lower-priced option for DFS.
Look, there’s more than a little risk in adding a player to your lineups who’s dropped nearly 100 places on the world ranking since the beginning of the year and owns just one finish inside the top-40.
It’s been a pretty brutal campaign for Hagy so far, but here’s hoping a long course with plenty of birdies available could at the very least yield something in the neighborhood of the T42 he posted in Mexico a few weeks ago. If he replicates that performance from this week’s price point, he’ll offer a return on investment.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Wyndham Clark (+13000 for FRL)
I like having a little investment this week in Clark, who’s starting to show some signs of life after a terrible start to the year. His T39 result at this event last year was perhaps most noteworthy for an opening-round 66 and he’s continued posting some low Thursdays recently, with 68s in each of his last two starts, and a 65 and two 66s earlier this season, currently ranking 21st in first-round scoring average.
If we’re taking a shot on some players in the outright market, then we might as well take some seriously longer shots for FRL. Clark is worth a play.
One player who should beat comparable players.
Maverick McNealy (+5500)
It feels like it’s been a long time without some McNealy in our lives, but really, it’s only been a few weeks. He finished T35 at the Valero Texas Open and T26 at the RBC Heritage and despite MCing (with Joseph Bramlett) at the Zurich Classic, those results sort of exemplify the high floor we’ve come to know about him.
In his last 22 individual starts, McNealy has missed just a single cut and he’s reached the weekend in a dozen straight. As I often write, I love playing high-floor types in matchups bets, as they give us two cracks at cashing. Mav certainly qualifies for that label.
Also Receiving Votes
Other players who should provide value.
Joaquin Niemann (+3500), Talor Gooch (+4500), Keith Mitchell, (+7500), Matthew NeSmith (+13000), Scott Stallings (+15000), Austin Smotherman (+25000) Trey Mullinax (+40000), Kramer Hickok (+40000)
One top player to avoid at this tournament.
Hideki Matsuyama (+3500)
Last year’s Masters champion is a tremendous talent who’s capable of winning anytime he tees it up. So, why am I listing him as a fade this week? Good question, thanks for asking.
As you might recall, Hideki missed a month of action during most of March, withdrawing from THE PLAYERS with a back/neck injury, then returned to play one round at the Valero Texas Open before WDing again, then finished T14 one week later at the Masters. There’s reason to have some trepidation here, considering he hasn’t played since defending his title that week.
I’m going to take a wait-and-see approach on Matsuyama moving forward. Last week in this space, I recommended fading Paul Casey due to a back injury and while he wound up withdrawing prior to his opening-round tee time (refunding all bets), it was another reminder to sometimes avoid a player who isn’t 100% healthy, especially when the physical issue in question is a back injury.
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