Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Byron Nelson Championship Tips

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It was great to get a winner last week with Max Homa at 40/1 at the Wells Fargo Championship. He’s a gritty competitor who thrives on classical golf courses and the sort who could compete in future Major Championships when he believes in himself. I also landed Matt Fitzpatrick who finished T2 at 20/1, so all-in-all TPC Potomac was a great event for this column. Golf Betting System podcast colleagues Barry O’Hanrahan and Paul Williams also had Homa and Bradley respectively, so if you haven’t already then give us a listen.

The AT&T Byron Nelson sees us return to Texas for the third time in 2022. We were in the Lone Star State previously for the WGC Dell Matchplay and the Valero Texas Open, both of which were played in the immediate weeks before The Masters in April. The Byron Nelson is the curtain-raiser for next week’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills and features an excellent field which is headlined by Sam Burns, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Will Zalatoris.

My 2022 PGA Championship research preview is ready to read here with my full betting tips preview out on next Monday, 16th May.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the Byron Nelson, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System during ‘Major season’. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,100 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: The AT&T Byron Nelson returns to TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas for its second visit. A relatively new course to the PGA Tour, Craig Ranch has hosted U.S. Open Sectional Qualifiers in 2019 and various PGA Tour and Korn Ferry 2nd Stage Qualifying Schools, which are all worth a look. It’s also hosted a couple of Korn Ferry Tour Championship tournaments across 2008 and 2012 before debuting for this event 12 months ago. Set in a rolling valley, the course features tree-lined fairways and plenty of water in play. At 7,468 yards and a Par 72, the course allowed for a real birdiefest here last year, so expect the same in 2022.

TPC Craig Ranch, McKinney, Dallas, Texas: Designer: Tom Weiskopf, 2004; Course Type: Parkland, Resort; Par: 72; Length: 7,468 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 13; Fairways: Cavalier Zoysiagrass; Rough: Bermudagrass 2.5″; Greens: 6,778 sq.ft. average Bentgrass; Tournament Stimp: 11.5ft. Course Scoring Average 2021: 69.57 (-2.43), Difficulty Rank 47 of 51 courses.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes other Tom Weiskopf designs include (including re-designs):

  • North Course, Torrey Pines 2017-2021 Farmers Insurance Open
  • TPC Scottsdale – Waste Management Phoenix Open

Course Overview: The AT&T Byron Nelson moved to a new home last year. Part of the PGA Tour’s own TPC Network, Craig Ranch proved to be a breeze for the very best players in the world. Located in McKinney on the north-east fringes of Dallas, Texas, it plays as a 7,468 yard, Par 72 set-up, with the standard split of 4 par-3s and 4-par-5s.

The course itself is a Tom Weiskopf design with gently rolling hills and mature woods surrounding the limestone banks of Rowlett Creek. Ex-PGA Tour player D.A. Weibring also served as a consultant on the golf course design. Water in various guises is apparent throughout the course with Rowlett Creek crossing the course 14 times. The course itself is far more conventional than the quirky faux-links at Trinity Forest, which hosted the Byron Nelson across both 2018 and 2019, and a strong entry list in 2022 has undoubtedly been attracted the week before the PGA Championship.

The front 9 at Craig Ranch is where some serious birdies can be made. The 1st, 3rd and 6th holes are all par-4s at 430 yards or less. Throw in 570 yard (5th) and 564 yard (8th) par-5s and there are birdies to be made on these Bentgrass greens. The back 9 sees a driveable par-4 at the 14th, a short 147 yard par-3 at the 17th, and a couple of easy par-5s at 547 yards (12th) and 552 yards (18th). The other holes though are made of sterner stuff, but it’s all relative! TPC Craig Ranch played as the 5th easiest course on the PGA Tour last season – and that was with 20 mph gusting winds across Saturday and Sunday.

TPC Craig Ranch does share one familiarity with previous host venue Trinity Forest in that the course has been planted from tee to green with Zoysiagrass, which we see on occasions in the southern states of the United States. Zoysiagrass also features at TPC Southwind (WGC-St Jude Invitational & FedEx St Jude Classic) and East Lake (Tour Championship) and isn’t the most popular of fairway grasses with many players who claim the quirky grass promotes flyers. These fairways also featured at the 2011 PGA Championship hosted at Atlanta Athletic Club and at Bellerive Country Club which hosted the 2018 PGA Championship.

bryon nelson championship tips

Winners: Hosted at Craig Ranch: 2021: K.H. Lee (-25); Hosted at Trinity Forest: 2019: Sung Kang (-23); 2018: Aaron Wise (-23); Hosted at AT&T Four Seasons: 2017: Billy Horschel; 2016: Sergio Garcia; 2015: Steven Bowditch; 2014: Brendon Todd; 2013: Sang-moon Bae; 2012: Jason Dufner; 2011: Keegan Bradley; 2010: Jason Day.

TPC Craig Ranch Cut Line: 2021: -6.

TPC Craig Ranch Lead Score Progression:

  • 2021: Round 1 -9; Round 2 -17; Round 3 -20; Round 4 -25.

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Course Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Justin Thomas, Adam Hadwin, Hideki Matsuyama, Joaquin Niemann, Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns, Will Zalatoris, Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Marc Leishman.

AT&T Byron Nelson Winners & Prices: 2021: K.H. Lee 200/1; 2019: Kang 125/1; 2018: Wise 50/1; 2017: Horschel 125/1; 2016: Garcia 25/1; 2015: Bowditch 500/1; 2014: Todd 100/1; 2013: Bae 150/1; 2012: Dufner 22/1; 2011: Bradley 200/1; 2010: Day 100/1.  Past 7 Renewals Average: 161/1 Overall Average: 145/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2021: Thursday: Due to wet course conditions, preferred lies in closely mown areas were in effect for round one. Partly cloudy. High of 73. Wind NE 5-10 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 78. Wind SE 7-14 mph, gusting to 18 mph. Saturday: Partly sunny and breezy. High of 81. Wind S 10-16 mph, gusting to 25 mph. Sunday: Heavy rain showers. High of 77. SSE wind 10-16 mph, with gusts to 22 mph. Due to heavy rain and lightning, the final round was suspended for 2 hours, 23 minutes.

Weather Forecast: Latest weather forecast for Dallas, Texas, is here.

298mm of rain has fallen on McKinney since the start of March, with 72mm last week. So the course should be lush and pretty much where the ground crew want it, especially with no rain in the forecast for tournament week. Adding to the mix is a distinct lack of Texas wind this week, allied to temperatures pushing 32 degrees Celsius. With watered greens guaranteed and little wind, expect another pure birdiefest in 2022.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Valspar Championship / Steyn City Championship which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events. Players’ rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Cameron Champ; 2) Scottie Scheffler; 3) Mito Pereira / Will Zalatoris; 5) Maverick McNealy / Jordan Spieth; 7) J.J. Spaun; 8) Brooks Koepka; 9) Brian Harman; 10) Brandon Wu; 11) Joaquin Niemann; 12) Xander Schauffele; 13) Sebastian Munoz; 14) Adam Hadwin / Charles Howell III / Jason Kokrak / Aaron Wise; 18) Luke List; 19) Dustin Johnson; 20) Joseph Bramlett / Tom Hoge; 22) Brandt Snedeker; 23) Ryan Palmer / Charl Schwartzel; 25) Ryan Armour / Seamus Power / Davis Riley / Austin Smotherman.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Justin Thomas; 3) Adam Hadwin; 4) Marc Leishman; 5) Hudson Swafford; 6) Jhonattan Vegas; 7) Sam Burns / C.T. Pan / Austin Smotherman / Henrik Stenson; 11) Brooks Koepka; 12) Paul Barjon / Kurt Kitayama / Joaquin Niemann; 15) Jordan Spieth; 16) Maverick McNealy / Xander Schauffele / J.J. Spaun; 19) Talor Gooch; 20) Mito Pereira; 21) Dustin Johnson / Brandon Wu; 23) Kevin Kisner / Keith Mitchell; 25) Matthew NeSmith / Brian Stuard / Brendon Todd.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Rory Sabbatini; 3) Jordan Spieth; 4) Will Zalatoris; 5) Matt Kuchar; 6) Adam Hadwin; 7) Pat Perez; 8) David Skinns; 9) Danny Willett; 10) Ryan Armour / Tommy Fleetwood / Sepp Straka; 13) Seung-yul Noh; 14) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Dustin Johnson; 16) Charles Howell III / Si Woo Kim; 18) Henrik Stenson / Bubba Watson; 20) Jason Kokrak; 21) Michael Gligic; 22) Kevin Kisner / Aaron Rai; 24) Talor Gooch; 25) Davis Riley / Peter Malnati.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Adam Hadwin; 3) Brooks Koepka / Justin Thomas; 5) Jordan Spieth; 6) Henrik Stenson; 7) Will Zalatoris; 8) Mito Pereira; 9) Maverick McNealy; 10) Jhonattan Vegas / Aaron Wise; 12) J.J. Spaun; 13) Sam Burns / Dustin Johnson / Joaquin Niemann / C.T. Pan; 17) Si Woo Kim; 18) Sepp Straka; 19) Aaron Rai / Bubba Watson; 21) Cameron Champ / Tommy Fleetwood / Xander Schauffele; 24) Matthew NeSmith / Danny Willett.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Talor Gooch / Will Zalatoris; 3) Alex Noren; 4) Sam Burns; 5) Rory Sabbatini; 6) Tommy Fleetwood; 7) Scottie Scheffler; 8) Brian Harman; 9) Matthew Wolff; 10) Justin Thomas / Richy Werenski; 12) Callum Tarren; 13) Sebastian Munoz; 14) Joaquin Niemann; 15) Seamus Power / Martin Trainer; 17) Brandon Hagy / Matt Kuchar; 19) Beau Hossler; 20) Brandon Wu; 21) Keith Mitchell; 22) Mackenzie Hughes / Ben Kohles / Justin Lower / Sepp Straka.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Adam Hadwin; 3) Will Zalatoris; 4) Justin Thomas; 5) Jhonattan Vegas; 6) Maverick McNealy; 7) Tommy Fleetwood / Mito Pereira; 9) Sam Burns / Sepp Straka; 11) Brooks Koepka / Matt Kuchar; 13) Alex Noren; 14) Si Woo Kim; 15) Talor Gooch / Sebastian Munoz; 17) Xander Schauffele; 18) Cameron Champ / Brian Harman; 20) Joaquin Niemann; 21) Aaron Rai / J.J. Spaun / Aaron Wise; 24) Dustin Johnson / Danny Willett.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the winners here at TPC Craig Ranch gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this classical test:

  • 2021, K.H. Lee (-25). 292 yards (35th), 66.1% fairways (41st), 80.6% greens in regulation (5th), 34’3″ proximity to hole (4th), 78.6 % scrambling (18th), 1.60 putts per GIR (2nd).

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2021, K.H. Lee (-25). SG Off the Tee: 23rd, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 24th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 9th.

Let’s take a view from players as to how TPC Craig Ranch sets-up and what skill sets the course favours:

Charl Schwartzel (2021): “Yeah, I did think about it halfway through the back nine. I was like; I haven’t had a round without a bogey for quite sometime. I’ve been playing well. You know, this golf course is really there for the taking, so if there was ever one to do it on, it would be this one.  Yeah, especially after last week, Quail Hollow is such a tough golf course and you have to be very strategic. I found myself through the first 12 holes being too conservative, and I turned to my caddie and said, Course is soft. I don’t think we can keep hitting away from the flags. It’s a mental shift. I tried to be a bit more aggressive.

This course driving is quite easy, so it’s all second shots, trying to get them close enough. End of the day this tournament is going to come down to a putting contest, who putts the best.”

Sergio Garcia (2021): “For my eagle on 6. Yes, we hit driver and thought we couldn’t reach because it was into the wind, but we knew if we hit it in the fairway we’re going to be around that 50 yard range, and a little bit into the breeze even with a front pin I could nip it nicely out of the Zoysiagrass and spin it. Caught it perfectly. As soon as hit it I knew it was going to be close. Didn’t know if it was going to go in or not, but knew it was going to be close. It was nice to hear the crowd go a little bit crazy there, because we couldn’t see it go in.”

Matt Kuchar (2021): “Warming up on the range this morning it was blowing hard. I was nervous going out there. I saw some pretty good scores up on the leaderboard thinking, boy, I don’t see how the guys are putting them up. I know the course is receptive, but with 15 to 20 mile an hour winds it’s a lot more challenging. Thankfully I was able to get a few birdies early on and kind of get off to a really good start. Think I was 4-under through 6, and made me feel like, All right, it is gettable. Let’s see if we can keep going, and was able to get in with 6-under par today.

Yeah, you never know when the birdies are going to come. You take them when they come, and I was grateful to get them early. Couple scoring holes, I think the third hole is a scoring hole, was able to take advantage there. Then the 5th hole is a par-5, so those two are good. The 6th hole is also almost a drivable hole. So kind of took advantage of those three really easy holes and threw another birdie in as well.”

Patton Kizzire (2021):”I would say my approach, my iron game is one of my strengths, and that’s huge when you match that with my putting. My putting is the best part of my game by far, so when I start hitting the iron shots close I can go low, and I did today.Yeah, I’ll take a lot of confidence. Yeah, so on 15 tee the storm came in, and, gosh, it seemed like it sped everything up. You got the umbrella, you got the wind, rain, yardage, you got so many different factors going and it throws your routine off.

15, 16, 17, and 18, played very difficult, and I would’ve liked to played them under par. The birdie on 17 helped me get it back to even on those four holes, and certainly would’ve liked to birdie 18. But I’m going to hang around and see what happens, and very pleased with 9-under. Most of my wins have come on courses with low scoring, so I enjoy this type of golf. I like to try to go low. I like a lot of birdies and I’ll be back next year.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the winners of the AT&T Byron Nelson since 2010:

  • 2021 – K.H. Lee:  Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2019 – Sung Kang:  Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2018 – Aaron Wise: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2017 – Billy Horschel: Round 1: 14th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2016 – Sergio Garcia: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2015 – Steven Bowditch: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2014 – Brendon Todd: Round 1: 13th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2013 – Sang-moon Bae: Round 1: 9th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2012 – Jason Dufner: Round 1: 11th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2011 – Keegan Bradley: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 8th.
  • 2010 – Jason Day: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 1st.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the shots from the lead during the tournament of the TPC Craig Ranch winners since 2021:

  • 2021 – K.H. Lee: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 1 back.

Form of AT&T Byron Nelson winners since 2010:

  • K.H. Lee: 58th Quail/29th Copperhead/23rd New Orleans/56th Heritage.
  • Sung Kang: MC Quail/MC New Orleans/42nd San Antonio/18th Copperhead.
  • Aaron Wise: 2nd Quail/MC New Orleans/MC TPC San Antonio/32nd Houston.
  • Billy Horschel: MC Sawgrass/MC New Orleans/MC TPC San Antonio/MC Heritage.
  • Sergio Garcia: 54th Sawgrass/3rd Valderrama/34th Augusta/MDF Houston.
  • Steven Bowditch: DQ Colonial/47th Quail/MC Sawgrass/12th New Orleans.
  • Brendon Todd: MC Quail/38th Heritage/43rd Houston/6th TPC San Antonio.
  • Sang-moon Bae: 33rd Sawgrass/MC Ballantines/48th Heritage/WD TPC San Antonio.
  • Jason Dufner: 68th Sawgrass/1st New Orleans/24th Heritage/24th Masters.
  • Keegan Bradley: 72nd Sawgrass/MC Quail/26th New Orleans/MC Heritage.
  • Jason Day: MC Players/22nd Quail/22nd Heritage/MC Houston.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2021 – Spaun / Spieth – AM/PM Split -9/63 – 175/1 & 20/1.
  • 2019 – McCarthy – AM -8/63 – 100/1.
  • 2018 – Leishman – PM -10/61 – 35/1.
  • 2017 – Barnes / Hahn – Both AM -6/64 – 200/1 & 125/1.
  • 2016 – Garcia / D Lee / Wagner – 1AM/2PM -7/63.
  • 2015 – Bowditch – AM -8/62.
  • 2014 – Hanson – PM -5/65.
  • 2013 – Bradley – AM -10/60.
  • 2012 – Palmer – PM -6/64.
  • 2011 – Overton – PM -6/64.
  • 2010 – Day / Mahan – AM/PM Split -4/66.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 6 – Dustin Johnson.
  • 5 – Jordan Spieth.
  • 4 – Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson.
  • 3 – Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Francesco Molinari, Adam Scott.
  • 2 – Jason Dufner, Brian Harman, Jason Kokrak, Martin Laird, Marc Leishman, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas.
  • 1 – Jonas Blixt, Cameron Champ, Luke Donald, Dylan Frittelli, Bill Haas, Jim Herman, Charley Hoffman, Kevin Kisner, K.H. Lee, Joaquin Niemann, Ian Poulter, Seamus Power, Chez Reavie, Rory Sabbatini, Scottie Scheffler, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Stallings, Henrik Stenson, Michael Thompson, Brendon Todd, Nick Watney, Danny Willett, Matthew Wolff.

The Byron Nelson is always a difficult tournament to call, and a move last year to yet another new course adds another level of intrigue to this betting heat. As a tournament, we’ve seen a whole list of unexpected winners – indeed Jason Day (this was 2010), Keegan Bradley, Sang-moon Bae, Brendon Todd, Steven Bowditch, Billy Horschel, Sung Kang and K.H. Lee have won 8 of the past 11 renewals at triple-digits. Bowditch topped the lot price-wise, delivering a 500/1 coup for the bookmakers 7 years ago. K.H. Lee 12 months ago was a 200/1 chance.

On the reverse side, Jason Dufner (22/1 in 2012) and Sergio Garcia (25/1 in 2016), have been the only short-priced players in the betting market who ultimately prevailed since 2010. And 2018 saw the prestigiously talented Aaron Wise overhaul long term leader Marc Leishman and capture his first PGA Tour title at 50/1.

Another angle is that recent winners K.H. Lee, Kang, Wise, Todd, Bae, Bradley and Day had never won on the PGA Tour. Jason Dufner in 2012 had only captured his previous victory 2 appearances prior at TPC Louisiana. 2017 saw Billy Horschel arrive with form of MC-MC-MC-MC to then go onto capture his 4th PGA Tour victory. The Floridian had not won a tournament since the 2014 Tour Championship, ending a 2 and a half year hiatus. It’s certainly a mixed picture. Sergio Garcia in 2016 had not won on the PGA Tour for 2 and 3/4 years.

From a timing perspective, we now have both 2019 and 2021 renewals to work from in terms of this tournament the week prior to the PGA Championship in May.

For 2019 it’s worth pointing out that it was a far weaker field than this week’s as its headline players featured only Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. Winner Sung Kang was a 125/1 shot. He ranked 138th in the Official World Golf Rankings and had no entry for the PGA Championship. Scott Piercy finished T2 with Matt Every. Piercy at 50/1 had finished 3rd on his previous outing at Harbour Town, whilst Matt Every had finished 3rd in the team event at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans 2 starts prior. 15/2 tournament favourite Brooks Koepka finished 4th and went on to win the PGA Championship a week later in New York.

For 2021 the tournament contained Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth, Daniel Berger, Hideki Matsuyama and Marc Leishman. Winner K.H. Lee was a 200/1 shot. He ranked 137th in the Official World Golf Rankings and had no entry for the PGA Championship. Sam Burns finished runner-up at 33/1 and had won his maiden PGA Tour title on his last outing at Copperhead. Of the short prices, Daniel Berger was the best finisher after he back-doored a T3, with a closing -8/64 catapulting him from 18th spot. He went on to finish 75th at the PGA Championship a week later. 12/1 shot Jordan Spieth led after 18 holes and was still T3 going into Sunday, where he went backwards finishing T9. 22/1 chance Brooks Koepka missed the cut at the Byron and then finished 2nd at Kiawah Island a week later.

My Final Byron Nelson Championship Tips Are As Follows:

Will Zalatoris 2.5pts EW 25/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

I can remember as if it was yesterday when Will Zalatoris threw away his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Farmers Insurance Open. Losing out to Luke List of all people in a play-off, he was a 28/1 shot back in January when we were on-board. So to see him still chalked-up at around the 20/1 mark is encouraging price-wise for a player who knows TPC Craig Ranch intimately. “So I played TPC Craig Ranch a bunch going back, I think, to when I was actually 12 years old. I played in the Ewing Junior Tour regular season championship, played in a foursome with Scottie Scheffler, and I’ve got a lot of great memories here. So I guess I’ve been competing here basically half my life, so really looking forward to, obviously, competing in front of some friends and family this week,” are quotes taken from his Byron Nelson pre-tournament interview from 12 months ago.

He finished 17th here at the Byron last year and was actually tied 8th for scoring across the final 54 holes, after missing the cut the week before at Quail Hollow. I much prefer his chances this year after being a Quarter Finalist at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play, 6th at The Masters and 4th last time out at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans when partnered with Davis Riley. Will, across my golf viewing eye, actually seems to be making putts, and that can be backed up by the fact that he ranked 8th for Strokes Gained Putting at Augusta National.

And whilst many of the elites will be honing their skills for the PGA Championship next week, I’d like to think that winning his maiden PGA Tour title at the Byron Nelson held in his hometown of Dallas will focus the mind of Zalatoris, who can go low. 6th at The American Express in January featured a round of -11/61 on the Friday. RESULT: MC

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Talor Gooch 1.5pts EW 40/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Talor Gooch is another who grabs my attention. The Oklahoma born and educated 30 year-old must be looking forward to the PGA Championship next week in his home state, but the AT&T Byron Nelson has to be viewed as an opportunity for him. Like Max Homa last week, he’s very much in the running for a President’s Cup spot for Team USA and a 2nd PGA Tour win here (and this season) would really help to aid the course. Talor is close friends with Max and I wouldn’t be surprised to see an inspired Gooch in the mix here this week in Texas.

14th at The Masters on debut was a superb performance in his last solo outing, but it’s Gooch’s penchant for a low-scoring affair which grabs my attention. 4th at PGA West in 2019 came at -24 and this season alone he shot -21 when 5th at The Summit Club, before winning his maiden PGA Tour title at Sea Island with a winning -22 total. He’s also shown a liking for Tom Weiskopf designs, shooting a plethora of low rounds at Torrey Pines North Course over the years, plus mid rounds of 64/67 at TPC Scottsdale back in February. Indeed Gooch was 3rd going into Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open before a closing 75 in the midst of the chaos derailed his chances.

He’s also got plenty of TPC Craig Ranch form. 39th here 12 months ago, Gooch finished 17th (2014), 21st (2015) and 7th (2016) across Korn Ferry Q-School 2nd stages. On the Korn Ferry Tour, 2nd at the 2017 Price Cutter Championship played on at Highland Springs Country Club came at 24-under -that course features Zoysiagrass fairways and Bentgrass greens – and his 2017 News Sentinel Open victory also came on Bentgrass putting surfaces in Knoxville, Tennessee. RESULT: MC

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Adam Hadwin 1pt EW 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

When I think of low scoring, I always think of desert golf tournaments such as The American Express or the Shriners Open. Short golf courses with low wind – the standard affair. Desert golf in the main is low scoring, where birdies are the currency of contention. Take defending champion K.H. Lee who had finished 2nd at TPC Scottsdale in February, prior to winning his maiden PGA Tour here at the AT&T Byron Nelson at 200/1.

Well when it comes to the double whammy of both playing well and having a superb desert golf record Adam Hadwin takes some beating this week. 6th (2016), 2nd (2017), 3rd (2018) and 2nd (2019) at PGA West came with scores of -20, -19, -20 and -25. 10th (2014), 4th (2019) and 6th (2021) at TPC Summerlin, the 2020 and 2021 results came at -20 and -18. On target golf courses where attacking but controlled golf is required, the Canadian has always been top notch. And remember Hadwin shot -13/59 at PGA West in 2017. Enough said!

Form since the start of March is also excellent. 9th at TPC Sawgrass, 7th at Copperhead and 4th at TPC San Antonio. With the President’s Cup looming, Hadwin – a member of both the 2017 and 2019 International teams – needs results to crack Trevor Immelman’s team.  And that form translates amazingly well to my 8-week Strokes Gained tracker where Adam 105 ranks 2nd behind only World Number 1 Scottie Scheffler for Approach, Tee to Green and Strokes Gained Current Form. The World Number 105 also has Craig Ranch course experience having finished 3rd here in the 2012 Korn Ferry ( as was) Tour Championship. RESULT: MC

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Mito Pereira 1pt EW 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

A move to Bentgrass greens will only aid the results of Mito Pereira.

Let’s remember his Korn Ferry heritage, where most of his good work was on Bentgrass greens. May 2021 saw the Chilean finish 2nd in the Huntsville Championship (A1 Bentgrass greens with Zoysiagrass fairways), which was the precursor to June when Pereira won back-to-back tournaments at the Rex Hospital Open and the BMW Charity Pro-Am, both on Bentgrass putting surfaces. A look at Pereira’s CV also highlights that his 3 Korn Ferry titles across 2020/21 came at -20, -21 and -27, so he can undoubtedly go low.

We saw as much when he joined the PGA Tour last July. 5th at the Barbasol Championship played on the Bentgrass greens of Keene Trace came at -19, a result he then backed up straight away with 6th at the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities, again on Bentgrass, before finishing T3 in the Olympics. 2022 has been slower – it had to be really – but momentum is building with 27th at Copperhead, 13th at TPC San Antonio and 26th at Harbour Town.

Mito pulled out of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with a back strain, but 3 weeks on I’m expecting no problems for the 27 year-old. RESULT: T17

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Brandon Wu 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

And why not! Brandon Wu has been opening punters eyes of late.  Up just under 200 spots in the OWGR since the end of February, you won’t be surprised to here that Wu has played some great stuff recently. 3rd in Puerto Rico, 33rd at the Valspar, 28th at Corales and 2nd at the Mexico Open, Brandon has impressed greatly and he’s been firing some excellent low rounds.

66/63 over the weekend in Mexico saw him grab his best ever finish on the PGA Tour, and his spot for next season, by the close of April. Impressive enough stuff. And a dive into his Korn Ferry history also intrigues me for this week’s test. 2020 saw him finish 9th at the Price Cutter Championship (remember Bentgrass greens and Zoysiagrass fairways), 2nd at the Boise Open and 1st at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship – hosted at Victoria National Golf Club, which features Bent putting surfaces. 2021 also saw him finish 7th at the Huntsville Championship, which I expect he was disappointed with on the basis he was 2nd going into the Sunday. Played at the Ledges Country Club in Alabama, that course is another which features Zoysiagrass fairways and Bentgrass green complexes. He then went on to also finish 10th on the Bentgrass greens of Knoxville.

So in my mind I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up over the next few weeks on the PGA Tour, as the schedule winds its way around courses which feature his seemingly favourite putting surface. The conditions at TPC Potomac were never likely to favour a relatively inexperienced 25 year-old, but I’m expecting far better things this week in Texas, a state where he was 6th going into Sunday at the 2019 Houston Open in only his 3rd start as a professional – he finished a creditable 17th at the Golf Club of Houston. RESULT: T51

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:10BST 9.5.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.