Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's CJ Cup Byron Nelson Tips 2024

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Congratulations if you were on-board the team of Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy at 15/2 last week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The CJ Cup Byron Nelson sees us return to Texas for the third time in 2024. We were in the Lone Star State previously for the Houston and Valero Opens, both of which were played in the immediate weeks before The Masters in April. The Byron Nelson is a tournament bedecked in history and sees CJ jump in as main sponsor. It features a field headlined by Jordan Spieth, Tom Kim, Si Woo Kim and defending champion Jason Day.

Before we go into the detail surrounding the CJ Cup Byron Nelson, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System. 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, +6,300 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

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Course Guide: The freshly CJ Cup sponsored Byron Nelson returns to TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas for its fourth 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 worth a look. It’s also hosted a couple of Korn Ferry Tour Championship tournaments across 2008 and 2012. Set in a rolling valley, the course features tree-lined fairways and plenty of water in play around the course. At a revised 7,414 yards and a Par 71 – previously a Par 72 – the course allows for a real birdiefest, so expect the same in 2024.

TPC Craig Ranch, McKinney, Dallas, Texas: Designer: Tom Weiskopf, 2004; Course Type: Parkland, Resort, Texas, Medium Length; Par: 71; Length: 7,414 yards; Holes with Water Hazards In-Play: 13; Number of Sand Bunkers: 83: Acres of Fairway: 35; Fairways: Cavalier Zoysiagrass; Rough: Bermudagrass 2.75″; Greens: 6,778 sq.ft average Bentgrass; Tournament Stimp: 11.5ft.

Course Scoring Average:

  • 2021: 57 (-2.43), Difficulty Rank 47 of 51 courses (5th easiest).
  • 2022: 69.22 (-2.78), Difficulty Rank 47 of 50 courses (4th easiest).
  • 2023: 68.91 (-209), Difficulty Rank 44 of 49 courses (6th easiest).

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

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

Course Overview: The Byron Nelson moved to a new home in 2021. Part of the PGA Tour’s own TPC Network, Craig Ranch has proved to be a breeze for the very best players in the world. Located in McKinney on the north-east fringes of Dallas, it played as a 7,468 yard, Par 72 set-up, with the standard split of 4 par-3s and 4-par-5s. However the PGA Tour to this point has not been immune to bringing tees forward, making the course play shorter and much easier.

Last year saw the scorecard change to a 7,414 yard, Par 71 set-up. That change has been made by changing the par-5 12th hole at 547 yards into a stretching 493 yard par-4. This to all intents and purposes changes little, except shaving a couple of shots off the winning total. Undoubtedly this will still be a resort-level scoring eagle- and birdie-making test.

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 points. The course itself is far more conventional than the quirky faux-links at Trinity Forest, which hosted the Byron Nelson in both 2018 and 2019.

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 an easy par-5 at 552 yards (18th). The 12th has now changed to a 493 yard par-4, whilst the other back 9 holes are made of sterner stuff, but it’s all relative! TPC Craig Ranch played as the 5th easiest course on the PGA Tour in 2021, 4th easiest in 2022 and last season it was the 6th easiest and that was with gusting +25 mph winds in-play for the opening 36 holes.

TPC Craig Ranch does share one familiarity with previous host venue Trinity Forest in that the course has been planted with Zoysiagrass fairways, which we see on occasions in the southern states of the United States, plus in Japan.

Zoysiagrass fairways also feature at

  • East Lake (Tour Championship)
  • Narashino CC (2019, 2021, 2022 & 2023 ZOZO Championship)
  • TPC Southwind (WGC St Jude Championship + WGC-St Jude Invitational + FedEx St Jude Classic)

Zoysia 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.

byron nelson tips

Byron Nelson Winners: Hosted at Craig Ranch: 2023: Day (-23); 2022: K.H. Lee (-26); 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.

  • 2023: Day 64-69-66-62 -23/261
  • 2022: K.H. Lee 64-68-67-63 -26/262
  • 2021: K.H. Lee 65-65-67-66 -25/263

Path to Victory: Below are end of round positions for Byron Nelson winners at Craig Ranch:

  • 2023 – Jason Day: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 6th, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2022 – K.H. Lee:  Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 6th, Round 3: 6th.
  • 2021 – K.H. Lee:  Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 2nd.

Shots From the Lead: Below are Byron Nelson winners at TPC Craig Ranch and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2023 – Jason Day: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2022 – K.H. Lee: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 4 back.
  • 2021 – K.H. Lee: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 1 back.

OWGR of Byron Nelson Winners: 2023: Day 35; 2022: K.H. Lee 88; 2021: K.H. Lee 137.

TPC Craig Ranch Cut Line: 2023: -4; 2022: -5; 2021: -6.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2023: Round 1 -11; Round 2 -14; Round 3 -16; Round 4 -23.
  • 2022: Round 1 -12; Round 2 -15; Round 3 -21; Round 4 -26.
  • 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 | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

My published predictor is available here. Top 10 of my published predictor are: Tom Hoge, Alex Noren, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Si Woo Kim, Adam Scott, Stephan Jaeger, Mackenzie Hughes, Sungjae Im, Keith Mitchell.

Byron Nelson Winners & Prices: 2023: Day 18/1; 2022: K.H. Lee 125/1; 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 5 Renewals Average: 104/1; Average: 134/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2023: Thursday: Mostly cloudy. High of 85. Wind SSE 10-15 mph, with gusts to 25 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 88. Wind S 10-15 mph, with gusts to 25 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 83. Wind SSE 8-14 mph. Sunday: Cloudy with scattered showers. High of 81. Wind SE 6-12 mph.
  • 2022: Thursday: Sunny. High of 91. Wind SSE 13-17 mph, gusting to 25 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 92. Wind SSE 14-18 mph, gusting to 24 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 91. Wind SE 6-12 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 96. Wind S 12-16 mph, gusting to 23 mph.
  • 2021: Thursday: Mostly sunny. High of 71. Wind NNW 5-10 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny. High of 69. Wind NW 12-18 mph, gusting to 30 mph. Saturday: Partly sunny and breezy. High of 74. Wind W 10-15 mph, gusting to 25 mph. Sunday: Partly Cloudy. High of 81. Wind SSW 12-15 mph with gusts of 30 mph.

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

Thursday looks troublesome weather-wise with a delayed start looking more than possible with thunderstorms, heavy rain and high winds forecast. Expect a soft course once play commences. At 22-28 degrees Celsius – 72-82 Fahrenheit – temperatures are down year-on-year, but will be comfortable. Strong +20mph winds at parts will also be a factor, which fascinatingly change direction every single day.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Arnold Palmer Invitational which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events, where recorded. Player rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Kevin Yu; 2) Martin Trainer; 3) Alejandro Tosti; 4) Kevin Dougherty / Min Woo Lee; 6) Sungjae Im; 7) Si Woo Kim; 8) Trace Crowe; 9) Cody Gribble / Peter Kuest; 11) Keith Mitchell; 12) Ryan Brehm; 13) Thomas Detry / Brice Garnett; 15) Stephan Jaeger / Adam Schenk; 17) Rico Hoey; 18) Jhonattan Vegas; 19) Jason Day / Maverick McNealy; 21) Byeong Hun An / Lanto Griffin / Matti Schmid / Jordan Spieth; 25) Joel Dahmen.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Patton Kizzire; 2) Henrik Norlander; 3) Ryan Moore; 4) Tom Hoge; 5) Mark Hubbard; 6) Nate Lashley; 7) Ben Martin / C.T. Pan; 9) Lanto Griffin / Dylan Wu; 11) Si Woo Kim; 12) Jake Knapp; 13) Seamus Power; 14) Luke List; 15) Bud Cauley; 16) Keith Mitchell; 17) Joel Dahmen / Alex Noren; 19) Byeong Hun An / Jhonattan Vegas; 21) Chandler Phillips; 22) Nick Dunlap; 23) Mackenzie Hughes; 24) Greyson Sigg; 25) Aaron Rai.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Kevin Chappell; 2) Austin Cook / Roger Sloan; 4) Joseph Bramlett; 5) Mackenzie Hughes / Si Woo Kim; 7) Stephan Jaeger; 8) Alex Noren; 9) Taylor Montgomery / Carl Yuan; 11) Aaron Baddeley / Jason Day; 13) Chez Reavie; 14) Robby Shelton; 15) Nate Lashley / Adam Schenk; 17) Ben Taylor; 18) Sungjae Im; 19) Brice Garnett / Ryan McCormick; 21) Tyson Alexander / Zac Blair / C.T. Pan; 24) Min Woo Lee; 25) Harry Hall / David Skinns.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Si Woo Kim; 2) Ryan Moore; 3) Nate Lashley / Alex Noren; 5) Mark Hubbard; 6) Lanto Griffin; 7) Stephan Jaeger; 8) Mackenzie Hughes; 9) Bud Cauley / Keith Mitchell / Adam Schenk; 12) Peter Kuest; 13) C.T. Pan; 14) Maverick McNealy; 15) Kevin Yu; 16) Ben Martin; 17) Joseph Bramlett / Seamus Power; 19) Joel Dahmen / Tom Hoge / Aaron Rai / Roger Sloan; 23) Byeong Hun An / Min Woo Lee; 25) Chan Kim / Jhonattan Vegas.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Alexander Bjork; 2) Peter Kuest; 3) Jason Day; 4) Thomas Detry; 5) Tom Hoge / Raul Pereda; 7) Taylor Montgomery; 8) Adam Scott; 9) Tom Kim / Matt Kuchar; 11) Matti Schmid; 12) Jacob Bridgeman / Taylor Pendrith; 14) Chandler Phillips / Jordan Spieth / Sami Valimaki; 17) S.H. Kim; 18) Norman Xiong; 19) Aaron Baddeley / Adam Schenk; 21) Ben Griffin / Mackenzie Hughes / Justin Suh; 24) Pierceson Coody / Chris Gotterup / Mac Meissner.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Peter Kuest; 2) Alex Noren; 3) Si Woo Kim; 4) Mackenzie Hughes; 5) Tom Hoge; 6) Matti Schmid; 7) Thomas Detry / Adam Schenk; 9) Mark Hubbard; 10) Ryan Moore; 11) Brice Garnett / Adam Scott; 13) Ben Griffin; 14) Jason Day / Maverick McNealy; 16) Stephan Jaeger / Martin Laird / Mac Meissner; 19) Kevin Tway; 20) Marty Dou; 21) Max Greyserman / Rico Hoey; 23) Lanto Griffin / Ben Martin / C.T. Pan / Jimmy Stanger.

For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at TPC Craig Ranch click here.

Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the Strokes Gained Stats of the Byron Nelson winners here since 2021 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2023, Jason Day (-23). SG Off the Tee: 12th, SG Approach: 3rd, SG Around the Green: 31st, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 28th.
  • 2022, K.H. Lee (-26). SG Off the Tee: 20th, SG Approach: 8th, SG Around the Green: 10th, SG Tee to Green: 5th, SG Putting: 13th.
  • 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.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 18th, SG Approach: 4th, SG Around the Green: 22nd, SG Tee to Green: 3rd, SG Putting: 17th.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of Byron Nelson winners here since 2021 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2023, Jason Day (-23). 307 yards (23rd), 64.3% fairways (34th), 77.8% greens in regulation (10th), 33’1″ proximity to hole (3rd), 81.3 % scrambling (10th), 1.64 putts per GIR (19th).
  • 2022, K.H. Lee (-26). 307 yards (49th), 66.1% fairways (22nd), 76.4% greens in regulation (18th), 44’9″ proximity to hole (76th), 88.2 % scrambling (4th), 1.67 putts per GIR (33rd).
  • 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).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 36th, Driving Accuracy: 32nd, Greens in Regulation: 11th, Proximity to Hole: 28th, Scrambling: 11th, Putting Average 18th.

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

Jason Day (2023): ” I mean, you do have to be aggressive, but you’ve got to be careful because there was a good 20 wind out there today, and if you’re trying to push too hard, the way the Bermuda sits and if you’re in the rough and at all short-siding yourself, you can play your way out of it. You’ve still got to be patient, but I know that in the past this has yielded pretty low numbers here, so you kind of have to understand that and then just take it day by day.

Depends on the wind, but yeah, actually you can probably birdie all the holes. You’ve got to be driving it well here. With the softer conditions, we definitely — it definitely widens the fairways. They’re already kind of wide anyway, so it widens the fairways, and then with the softer greens, it’s just kind of like — everyone is kind of flagging it. That’s probably understandable obviously through the scores that you’re seeing.

Yeah, I was trying to get at least one in the last three. Unfortunately bogeyed 16. Nice to be able to birdie 18. It’s funny, the bunkers, not a lot of sand in them. They’ve got a pretty firm base. I’m not saying there’s no sand. They’ve got a really firm base and there’s like a thin layer of sand on there so you’ve got of contact the ball correctly and I caught it a little bit behind, that’s why it kind of shot through. It was good to be able to hole that putt, good momentum going into tomorrow.

On 12 I actually got a little bit unlucky with the hole prior hitting a pitching wedge. It hit the flag, and it ricocheted off the green. I had a lot of good momentum going into that hole just because I birdied 9 and 10, had a really good look at 8 and 7. I chose a 56 because I knew the greens were a little bit softer, that if I landed it very similar to where I would land a 60, it would actually roll up the hill. That was one of those ones where you’re like, I was in the middle of the fairway, I said to my caddie, let’s just go chip it in. But you’re saying that but you’re not really thinking about it, you’re just saying it just because you’re kind of filling in the blanks.

Yeah, I got up there and I’m sitting there reading like it’s actually quite straight and then I chipped it and it went in, so that was a nice kick in the right direction. I was sitting there going, okay, I need to birdie 14, I need to birdie 18 because they’re two holes that you have to birdie, that the guys are going to birdie. It was nice to get through that, and then the bonus was 15, to be able to get the birdie on 15, hitting a 5-iron just right of that hole on the correct plateau was crucial and rolling that putt in was nice.”

K.H. Lee (2022): “I think here is irons game, need irons game good and also putting, because a lot of guys a lot birdie and eagle, so need to low under par. I’m comfortable with tee shot here. I hit a really good iron shot and then I think the key here is iron shot, because a lot of guys make a birdie. So when I hear par-3 or when I tee shot any holes, very, very comfortable, then make more confidence and then it helped this week.”

“Honestly, just my goal is when I, before final round I want to play well, but I don’t think about win, just keep momentum and next week. But No. 2 I think birdie, maybe 50 feet something, make a long putt. And then on number 3 it’s pretty, like 25 feet in the hole. So make more momentum. And then No. 12 make eagle. So I think maybe some chance winning again, so that makes more confidence in myself at that time.”

Jordan Spieth (2022): So if you’re in the fairway you can attack pins on a lot of the greens, but if you’re not you’re really out of position because they stick ’em over in corners and the way the course is designed it’s, you have to be able to have spin on the ball to get close to the pin. So it’s still going to be a premium on driving, probably more of a premium on driving the ball accurately than it was maybe last year, just because the fairways will play 5 to 10 yards smaller with how firm they are and I think that that’s going to be what the tournament, the Tour, everybody wants out of this place. It can show a little bit of teeth and it’s certainly in the best condition, shape I’ve ever seen it in.”

“I think I said ahead of time I thought that it would show a little more teeth than last year and I couldn’t have been more wrong. I mean a 60 yesterday and a lot of 8s and 7s all over the board. I mean it’s just, a lot of tees are up, it was very surprising. Like the 9th tee being up on the front box, I hit 7 and 8-iron into that par-5 and it’s just designed to have to hit a shot from 250 yards. So obviously that’s nice when you’re in the situation. But they moved some par-3s up too. They moved, like No. 2 they moved to the front of the box. Some interesting ones. And then I think they were looking at the weekend as a lot less wind and so they used more of the easier pins the first two days because I can only name one or two pins on this golf course that were not the easiest two locations that are on the greens. So maybe that’s the reason why, I’m not sure. I’m a little bit surprised at how, on a not-so-difficult golf course they have also set it up a little easier for us too.”

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.

Incoming Form of Byron Nelson winners since 2010:

  • Jason Day: MC Quail/39th Augusta/QF WMP/19th TPC Sawgrass.
  • K.H. Lee: 25th TPC Potomac/MC Heritage/MC Masters/MC San Antonio.
  • 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 San Antonio.
  • Sang-moon Bae: 33rd Sawgrass/MC Ballantines/48th Heritage/WD 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.

  • 2023 – Noh – AM -12/60 – 150/1.
  • 2022 – Munoz – AM -12/60 – 80/1.
  • 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:

  • 5 – Jason Day, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth.
  • 3 – Ryan Moore, Adam Scott.
  • 2 – Tom Kim, Martin Laird, K.H. Lee, Jhonattan Vegas.
  • 1 – Daniel Berger, Cameron Champ, Stewart Cink, Sungjae Im, Michael Kim, Ben Martin, Vincent Norrman, Seamus Power, Chez Reavie, Brandt Snedeker, Camilo Villegas.

The Byron Nelson is always a difficult tournament to call and a move, 3 years ago, 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 (twice) have won 9 of the past 13 renewals at triple-digits. Bowditch topped the lot price-wise, delivering a 500/1 coup for the bookmakers 8 years ago. K.H. Lee’s 2 wins here at TPC Craig Ranch came at 200/1 and 125/1.

On the reverse side, Jason Dufner (22/1 in 2012), Sergio Garcia (25/1 in 2016) and Jason Day (18/1 2023) 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 1/2 year hiatus. Sergio Garcia in 2016 had not won on the PGA Tour for 2 and 3/4 years. Defending Champion Jason Day broke a 5 year winless steak with an emotional victory here 12 months ago, whilst K.H Lee won when defending his maiden PGA Tour title. It’s certainly a mixed picture!

My final CJ Cup Byron Nelson tips are as follows:

Min Woo Lee 2pts EW 25/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Coral

Whilst the likes of Si Woo Kim, Sungjae Im, Byeong Hun An and “Mr Craig Ranch” K.H. Lee are sponsored by new tournament sponsor CJ Logistics and will be under the media spotlight, I do like the idea of backing a player with Korean heritage. Step forward Min Woo Lee, who I think has a great chance this week in Texas.

A glance at his career Curriculum Vitae shows 4 professional wins, 3 of which have come on the DP World Tour. Those wins have come at -19/269 (2020 ISPS Handa Vic Open), -18/266 (2021 Abrdn Scottish Open), -30/254 (2023 SJM Macau Open) and -20/264 (2023 Fortinet Australian PGA Championship). So I think the scoring target at TPC Craig Ranch will be right in the 25 year-old’s wheelhouse.

I’m also of the belief that Min Woo will like the change to Bentgrass greens as we move into the summer, although we have little to go off on the PGA Tour. 14th (2022) and 22nd (2024) at The Masters, 18th at the 2023 PGA Championship hosted at Oak Hill and 5th at the 2023 U.S. Open hosted at Los Angeles Country Club highlight a player happy enough on Bentgrass greens. Plus last year saw Lee finish 9th at the Travelers and 6th at the ZOZO on courses that have Bentgrass-base putting surfaces. Texas courses and playing conditions have always favoured Australians as well just look at Adam Scott, Jason Day, and Steven Bowditch – all of whom have won multiple titles in the Lone Star State.

4th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee at Augusta National, which translated to 2nd for Total Driving, 12th for Greens in Regulation and 1st for Ball Striking in old money, Min Woo is playing beautifully from Tee to Green at the moment and hopefully his putter sparks on more favourable Bentgrass greens.

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Adam Schenk 1.5pts EW 45/1 (8EW, 1/5) with bet365

Adam Schenk has always been a player who can shoot low scores. The sort who used to start well and tail off over the weekend, the last 12 months has seen a real step change. He made the Tour Championship last year and is now within the world’s top 50, which is a huge up-side for the 32 year-old who hails from Vincennes, Indiana. His first PGA Tour win must be a target and progress suggests it’s within the realms of reasonable outcomes – and soon.

2023 saw Adam finish 2nd at the Valspar and Charles Schwab Challenge (Colonial Country Club, Texas), 4th at the John Deere Classic, with supporting top-7 finishes at the Memorial Tournament, Rocket Mortgage Classic and St Jude Championship. Throw in a 6th for 72-hole scoring on his debut at the Tour Championship and you can see that Schenk has learnt to be competitive in big tournaments.

2024 started slowly, but since the Tour left the west coast the World Number 47 has finished 19th at The Players, 5th at the Valero Texas Open and 12th at The Masters – which was Schenk’s best ever finish in a Major. In this field those performances help to make him top 10 in my 8-week Strokes Gained rankings for current form.

Bentgrass green positive, Adam has played every Byron Nelson held at TPC Craig Ranch and was 15th heading into Sunday in 2021, before finishing 34th. 3 years down the line and in decent form, I can see Schenk challenging for the title this week.

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Mackenzie Hughes 1.5pts EW 45/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Mackenzie Hughes is another to keep a close eye on this week, with bad weather seemingly going to play its part. 2nd here after 36 holes 12 months ago, the 2-time PGA Tour winner eventually finished 14th, and I like recent changes to his game which should well make him more competitive this time around.

Season-on-season he’s gained over 40 places Off the Tee so far in 2024 and 50 places for Tee to Green, which all-in-all makes Hughes a handful as his putter has really started to fire of late. 2nd for Strokes Gained Putting at Valspar, he was 8th for the same category last time out at Harbour Town when finishing a best ever 39th there.

Across my 8-week Strokes Gained tracker in this field he’s also highly visible. Top 25 for Approach and Putting, top 5 for Around the Green, it’s rare to see Mackenzie ranking top 10 for Tee to Green and top 5 for Current Form.

A 2-time winner on the PGA Tour, those wins have come at Sea Island (2016) and the Country Club of Jackson (2022). 14th here 12 months ago, if he wants to make Mike Weir’s International President’s Cup team then weeks like this in poor fields are where he needs to thrive.

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Seamus Power 1pt EW 60/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Seamus Power is another to like at a nice price. For me he’s always been the sort who goes well on easier scoring tests, and after a sluggish end to 2023 and start to 2024 the Waterford born 37 year-old is starting to find form. In the final Sunday group at the Valspar (finished 26th), Seamus was 7th after 54 holes at the Signature event-level RBC Heritage last time out, finishing 12th.

PGA Tour wins have come at -21/267 (2021 Barbasol Championship) and -19/265 (2022 Bermuda Championship), highlighting that Power’s “bread and butter” are these weaker PGA Tour events. The Irishman undoubtedly plays best on short- to medium-length courses where scoring is easier, and he’s as adept on Bentgrass as any other putting surface.

So for me Seamus will enjoy this weaker field in Dallas at an event where he has already had success. 9th (2021), 17th (2022) and 19th (2023) here, of those with multiple appearances here at TPC Craig Ranch he ranks 4th in this field for Strokes Gained Total.

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Matti Schmid 1pt EW 100/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Matti Schmid really appeals this week from a value perspective. As regulars will know I pull together 8-week window Strokes Gained statistics which help to shape a player’s recent strengths and weaknesses. Well Matti, who is now well into his second season on the PGA Tour, ranks in this field in the top 25 for Off the Tee, Top 12 for Putting, and top 6 for Current Form. Compared to the price on offer for the 26 year-old German, I’m prepared to take a chance on him.

The sort who comes to the fore when birdies are the currency, Matti in recent weeks has finished 10th at the Puerto Rico Open – he was 2nd after 54 holes – and 11th at the Corales Championship. A look at his best finishes on the PGA Tour highlight 8th at the 2022 Barbasol Championship (Bentgrass greens) where he shot -17/271 (despite shooting 77 in Round 4), 6th at the 2023 American Express where he shot -23/265, plus 3rd at the 2023 Bermuda Championship -21/263.

With current individual form of 10-26-17-21-69-11, which includes 26th at The Players and 17th at the Valspar, Matti is in great nick and must be looking forward to a course which has plenty of width off the tee and Bentgrass greens – a surface which has been by far his most productive over 3 years on the DP World Tour.

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 14:55BST 29.4.24 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.