The PGA Tour heads back to Texas this week for the AT&T Byron Nelson and after a big week at The Players Championship those teeing it up will be hoping for a much easier test to get their teeth into.
Billy Horschel defends his title this week but there are a number of Texan specialists and seasoned PGA Tour campaigners looking to dethrone him as champion. We are on a new track this week too which adds to the intrigue in the tournament.
2017 – Billy Horschel
2016 – Sergio Garcia
2015 – Steven Bowditch
2014 – Brendon Todd
2013 – Bae Sang-moon
2012 – Jason Dufner
2011 – Keegan Bradley
2010 – Jason Day
2009 – Rory Sabbatini
2008 – Adam Scott
The tournament moves to Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas this week. The course has a very links look and feel to it with many comparing it to Chambers Bay albeit with grass on the greens this time.
This is a bit of a quirky course. There is not a single tree on it and no water hazards either but the fairways and greens are undulating and there are a number of bunkers so accuracy and course management are the key to success here. Given that it is an exposed links track a comfort in the wind is essential this week.
Despite this tournament coming off the back of the biggest PGA Tour event of the season there is still a decent enough field teeing it up this week, a field which is headed by the leading two men in The Open last year in Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar.
Seasoned pros such as Jimmy Walker, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace and the defending champion Billy Horschel tee it up this week while Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama add to the international flavour of the event. Sergio Garcia adds to the headline names in the field.
Jordan Spieth is the 9/2 favourite to land the tournament this week and if he can show the form which he had in the third round last week he has every chance here. He is a member of the golf course which gives him an advantage on most of this field but it is clear that he is not on top form right now which is a concern if backing him at a short price.
Matt Kuchar is next in the betting at 14/1 and if he is anything like the player who went toe-to-toe with Jordan Spieth at Royal Birkdale then he is entitled to be right in the mix. That said he is another one who hasn’t really showed his best game in recent times so he is another one who is fairly easy to pass over at the price.
Sergio Garcia comes third in the betting but after a decent run in Mexico and just beyond his form has tailed right off and even at 16/1 he is of no interest to me this week. Jimmy Walker comes next at 20/1. He is something of a Texas specialist and can’t be ruled out especially off the back of a big week at TPC Sawgrass.
There is a quartet of players on 22/1 this week and they are headed by Adam Scott who needs a big week to get himself into the bigger events to come. Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman and the well backed Branden Grace are the other three men on this price and a case can certainly be made for each of them.
I’m going with a couple of main bets this week with Jimmy Walker the first of them. There is no doubt Walker is beginning to find his best form as he recovers from the illness which has dogged him for so long. In his last two solo events he has finished fourth in the Texas Open and second in The Players last week. He has a solid record in Texas with a win in the Texas Open in 2015 and with similarities between this course and the ToC one in Hawaii where he has also won I think Walker is a standout chance here.
Another man who looks to have every chance this week is Branden Grace. He is a popular pick but with good reason. Wherever you read about this track it is likened to Chambers Bay where I backed Grace to win the US Open. He had that tournament in the palm of his hand before he smacked a ball out of bounds off the tee late in the final round but Grace is an excellent player in the wind as he showed at The Open last year when he took the course record and lowest round in major history. Grace isn’t putting it all together this year but on a course that should really suit in conditions that should also assist him I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the week it turns around for the South African.
I’m going to go with a couple of outsiders this week too and whenever course management on an exposed track is needed I’m always lured towards Graeme McDowell. His US Open win came on an exposed layout and we know he is comfortable in links conditions. He has threatened some decent form. In the Wells Fargo he went round in 67 in the third round but he isn’t putting four rounds together. If he can do that here he will have every chance of going deep.
Keith Mitchell went well in the Dominica Republic and in Houston not too long ago which makes me think that he might have something to offer this week. He began well at Sawgrass last week when he got in at the last minute and although he was cut from the field after the third round he showed enough to suggest he is hitting the ball well. His long game looks in good order and with the majority of players seeing these greens for the first time he may not have a disadvantage on the dancefloors. I’ll pay to see how he goes.
PLACED – Back J.Walker to win AT&T Byron Nelson (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 21.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)
PLACED – Back B.Grace to win AT&T Byron Nelson (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 23.00 with Betfred (1/5 1-6)
Back G.McDowell to win AT&T Byron Nelson (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-7)
Back him here:
PLACED – Back K.Mitchell to win AT&T Byron Nelson (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Skybet (1/5 1-8)