GOLF

AT&T Byron Nelson: Best Bets, Daily Fantasy Golf Picks, Course Key Stats, and Win Simulations

The PGA Tour returns to TPC Craig Ranch for the second time. What did last year teach us about who should fit the course well?

We're in a stretch of weeks without a ton of prior course history to go off of, and the way that manifests this week is with TPC Craig Ranch, host of the AT&T Byron Nelson.

We first saw TPC Craig Ranch on the PGA Tour last year, so we've got a year's worth of data. We now need to figure out how much we can trust that information and what caveats and qualifiers we should try to make.

So, let's dig into the course, the key stats, the win simulations, and the best bets of the week.

You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.

Course Information and Key Stats
Golfers With Great Course History
Win Simulations
Best Bets
Daily Fantasy Picks

TPC Craig Ranch Course Info & Key Stats

Par: 72
Distance: 7,468 (long: ~90 yards shorter than the average par 72)
Fairway Acres/Yard: 4.7 (average-to-wide: PGA average is 4.1)
Average Green Size: 6,778 square feet (large: ~113% of PGA average)
Green Type: Bentgrass
Stimpmeter: 11.5 (PGA Average is ~12.0)
Past 5 Winning Scores: -25
Past 5 Cut Lines: -6
Key Stats (in Order of Importance): Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, Strokes Gained: Putting, Birdie or Better Rate

I'm keeping the key stats simple this week for reasons we'll get into, but TPC Craig Ranch -- off the bat -- didn't play tough last year despite its length. Kyoung-Hoon Lee won at -25, and five other golfers finished -20 or better. That means two things: we need birdies, and there's going to be volatility.

When courses play easy, lower-ranked golfers have an easier time getting in the mix. Making birdie on an easy hole isn't what separates the best from the rest: it's birdies and par saves on tougher holes that really separate.

With that in mind, we should feel a little freer with our picks this week.

Last year's top three (which included six total golfers with four finishing T3) ranked 2nd, 6th, 42nd, 7th, 5th, and 4th in strokes gained: approach. The outlier at 42nd, Scott Stallings, led the field in strokes gained: putting.

Speaking of putting, it's pretty easy here, and that should help the top-10 look more friendly to ball-strikers than strong putters, as it did last year.

The greens and fairways are pretty generous, and that allows driving distance (but really, strokes gained: off the tee) to become a key stat.

Basically: gain greens in regulation and make some makable birdie putts.

Golfers With Great Course/Event History

It's just one year of data, but these golfers finished top-10 last year and are in the field this year: Kyoung-Hoon Lee (winner), Sam Burns (2nd), Scott Stallings (T3), Patton Kizzire (T3), Charl Schwartzel (T3), Joseph Bramlett (T7), Seamus Power (T9), Jordan Spieth (T9), Jhonattan Vegas (T9), and Doc Redman (T9).

Win Simulations

Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their FanDuel Sportsbook win odds.

Golfer FanDuel
Salary
Win% Top-
10%
Made
Cut%
FanDuel
Sportsbook
Win
Odds
Justin
Thomas
$11,9008.1%40.2%82.5%+1300
Scottie
Scheffler
$12,1008.0%36.7%78.3%+950
Sam
Burns
$11,4004.5%29.1%73.4%+1900
Hideki
Matsuyama
$11,0003.5%22.8%70.0%+3400
Xander
Schauffele
$11,5003.1%22.1%70.6%+2100
Dustin
Johnson
$11,6002.8%23.4%71.7%+1900
Will
Zalatoris
$11,2002.7%19.6%68.6%+2100
Joaquin
Niemann
$10,9002.5%19.0%68.0%+3400
Seamus
Power
$9,9002.3%19.3%68.3%+5500
Talor
Gooch
$10,8002.2%20.4%67.2%+4100
Jordan
Spieth
$11,7002.0%15.0%62.5%+1700
Tommy
Fleetwood
$9,8002.0%18.7%68.1%+6500
Aaron
Wise
$9,7001.7%15.0%65.0%+5500
Alex
Noren
$9,8001.7%17.8%67.1%+5500
Maverick
McNealy
$9,7001.7%17.0%65.7%+5000
Adam
Scott
$10,7001.6%17.2%66.7%+4800
Brooks
Koepka
$11,3001.5%13.1%58.6%+3100
Adam
Hadwin
$9,5001.4%13.9%59.9%+4600
Keith
Mitchell
$9,3001.4%13.7%61.1%+7500
Jason
Kokrak
$10,4001.4%13.1%60.0%+5000
Tom
Hoge
$8,6001.4%13.3%59.3%+10000
Jhonattan
Vegas
$10,2001.4%14.7%64.3%+5000
Sebastian
Munoz
$8,8001.2%11.0%56.0%+7000
Marc
Leishman
$10,6001.2%14.0%62.7%+5000
Bubba
Watson
$10,1001.2%9.5%54.9%+5500
Ian
Poulter
$8,5001.1%12.8%59.6%+16000
Mito
Pereira
$9,2001.1%12.3%60.4%+8500
Lanto
Griffin
$9,5001.1%11.1%56.8%+7000
Brian
Harman
$10,0001.0%11.0%59.8%+5000
Siwoo
Kim
$9,9001.0%9.3%55.7%+5500
Jason
Day
$10,3000.9%9.8%57.9%+5000
Matt
Kuchar
$9,4000.9%11.1%58.3%+7500
Sepp
Straka
$9,4000.9%6.9%50.5%+7500
Mackenzie
Hughes
$8,7000.9%10.7%56.6%+12000
Patton
Kizzire
$9,0000.8%9.6%56.3%+9000
Christiaan
Bezuidenhout
$9,2000.8%10.4%58.3%+9000
Luke
List
$9,1000.7%9.7%55.9%+9000
J.J.
Spaun
$8,9000.7%8.5%52.3%+9000
Charles
Howell III
$8,5000.7%8.0%53.3%+12000
C.T.
Pan
$9,0000.6%7.1%52.7%+9000
Kyoung-hoon
Lee
$8,9000.6%8.5%52.7%+9000
Kevin
Kisner
$9,6000.6%7.0%50.6%+7500
Matthew
NeSmith
$8,9000.6%5.9%47.2%+9000
Scott
Stallings
$8,6000.5%6.7%49.6%+12000
Dylan
Frittelli
$8,4000.5%5.8%46.0%+12000
Sahith
Theegala
$9,0000.5%6.3%47.4%+9000
Aaron
Rai
$8,8000.5%6.5%51.2%+10000

Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets

The betting favorite, Scottie Scheffler (+900) isn't the favorite in the win simulation model. Rather, it's Justin Thomas (+1400), and there's actual value on Thomas here. Putting is easy this week, so I'm fine going harder at Thomas than usual.

Both Sam Burns (+1800) and Hideki Matsuyama (+3100) also emerge with positive expected value. Thomas, Burns, and Will Zalatoris (+2200, who was T17 here last year and should benefit from a de-emphasis on putting) are my main targets at the top -- specifically Thomas and Burns.

Aaron Wise (+5000), Tommy Fleetwood (+5500), Keith Mitchell (+6500), and Tom Hoge (+10000) are also faring well at their odds this week.

Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the AT&T Byron Nelson

All stats cited below originate at FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the past calendar year and is adjusted based on my field strength and recency tweaks. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. All ranks and percentile ranks are among the field. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.

Best of the Best

Justin Thomas (FanDuel Salary: $11,900 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +1400) - Thomas is my top guy this week because while there are a lot of good ball-strikers in the field, Thomas is truly elite (he ranks best in my adjusted strokes gained: ball-striking stat over the past year) and should benefit the most from a bit of a de-emphasis on putting. Now, I'm not totally ruling out putting, and even then, Thomas is still a plus putter anyway, but the floor is high, and so is the ceiling.

Sam Burns ($11,400 | +1800) - Burns makes for a strong second stud or even a bit of a discounted lineup starter. He ranks in the 93rd percentile in adjusted ball-striking and in the 99th percentile in adjusted short game. One thing that really separates Burns from some of the other studs is just how good the short game is, and that helped lead to a solo second here last year. While Burns' putting should take a step back, he still ranks in the 82nd percentile in expected putting.

Others to Consider:
Will Zalatoris ($11,200 | +2200) - T17 here last year; if we can bump down putting a bit, then Will Z is a superstar.
Hideki Matsuyama ($11,000 | +3100) - Just a great pivot play; hasn't played since Augusta but looks healthy.
Jhonattan Vegas ($10,200 | +4500) - 96th-percentile ball-striker and T9 here last year.

Mid-Range Picks

Aaron Wise ($9,700 | +5000) - I'm not hopping off the Wise train now. He's a 94th-percentile ball-striker due for legitimate putting regression (should be at a +0.27 rather than his -0.14). He finished T55 here last year, so he did play it, but he just didn't putt well. It's the right type of week to get back in on Wise at a reasonable salary.

Keith Mitchell ($9,300 | +6500) - You know the drill: great ball-striking (87th percentile). What else? Actually a solid short-game now (78th percentile). Admittedly, the putter is a bit too hot right now, but he still profiles as a positive putter from within 15 feet. Mitchell was T26 here last year, too.

Others to Consider:
Maverick McNealy ($9,700 | +5500) - Irons are on the rise (74th percentile) to make for a great all-around game.
Mito Pereira ($9,200 | +7500) - 89th-percentile or better in both ball-striking stats; due for big putting regression, too.
Luke List ($9,100 | +8000) - Putting is so bad that you never know, but we're downplaying it a bit this week; 97th-percentile ball-striking.

Low-Salaried Picks

Tom Hoge ($8,600 | +10000) - Hoge is, by far, my favorite value play of the week. He's just under-salaried. He has missed two straight cuts (RBC Heritage and Zurich Classic), but Hoge has been plagued by some bad putting luck. He's losing 0.06 strokes per round but should be gaining 0.10 -- not the hugest gap but a substantial difference for sure. Hoge is in the 89th percentile in adjusted tee-to-green play in the field.

Patton Kizzire ($9,000 | +8000) - Kizzire finished T3 last year at this course and has no holes in his game right now: he's above the field median in all four adjusted strokes gained stats. Kizzire also, more specifically, ranks in the 84th percentile in adjusted iron play.

Others to Consider:
Sebastian Munoz ($8,800 | +9500) - Putter has been ice cold from key ranges but strong tee-to-green data regardless.
Martin Laird ($8,300 | +14000) - Best tee-to-green data below $9,000.
Ryan Palmer ($8,600 | +11000) - A risk/reward play if you're truly comfortable downplaying putting.