We are back in the saddle as the PGA TOUR returns to the Lone Star State for the final week of tune-up before the second major of the year. I am operating at less than 100% on the heels of a bachelor party weekend in Savannah but, nevertheless, we power through for the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch. As always, we’ll prepare you for navigating AT&T Byron Nelson odds by running through key info in our course preview.
“Easy” is the buzz word this week. We’ll see a surprising amount of elite names in the field who will undoubtedly take it easy as they get one last tune-up round for the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York.
The course itself is about as easy they come on the PGA TOUR. It has wide open fairways, large receptive greens, and few penalty hazards. If weather stays fairly neutral, we should expect another winner in the mid-20s under par, rewarding birdie-makers who catch the hottest putter for four days. This is a quintessential putting contest.
We’ll run through the key facts and info about TPC Craig Ranch ahead of the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson.
AT&T BYRON NELSON ODDS: THE FAVORITES
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THE FIELD AT A GLANCE
Any tournament held the week prior to a Major championship can be expected to draw a weak field with most of the game’s best skipping straight to Oak Hill. All things considered, the AT&T Byron Nelson attracted a better field than most would expect in this spot.
It’s a Texas homecoming this week for favorites Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth. Both players historically play their best in their home state and will be motivated to put on a show in front of the home crowd. Ten OWGR top-40 players tee it up this week, with Tyrrell Hatton, Tom Kim, Hideki Matsuyama, Tom Hoge, Si Woo Kim , and Adam Scott rounding out the list of favorites.
KH Lee won each of the first two contests at TPC Craig Ranch and returns to chase a three-peat in 2023. It’s been a choppy start to his season, but a T8 finish at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship will be enough to make him a popular consideration yet again this week.
Other past AT&T Byron Nelson winners (some from Trinity Forest and TPC Four Seasons) back in the field this week include Sung Kang, Aaron Wise, Brendon Todd, Jason Dufner, Jason Day, and Adam Scott. Wise notably makes his first start since THE PLAYERS after a mental health break.
INTRODUCTION TO TPC CRAIG RANCH
TPC Craig Ranch is one of the most vanilla courses on the PGA TOUR schedule in my opinion. It repeats many of the same cookie-cutter hole layouts we’ve grown accustomed to seeing across other TPC venues. As a 7,468 yard par-72, TPC Craig Ranch is most suitable to the longest drivers in the field. The wide Zoysia fairways offer more forgiveness here, so driving accuracy will be less of a premium skillset here than most weeks on the PGA TOUR.
The first two years of action at TPC Craig Ranch proved to be a typical birdie-fest and putting contest. Elite ball-striking skillsets are at less of a premium on this layout with the course offering little residence from tee-to-green. That’s especially true when all the elite players have their attention on the week ahead at Oak Hill. Plus distance helps here, but that didn’t stop players like Troy Merritt, Satoshi Kodaira and Matt Kuchar from contending over the last two years. It may be another good week to spread exposure across a wider list of longshots given the randomness associated with putting contests.
For TPC Craig Ranch course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, and past AT&T Byron Nelson winners with their pre-tournament odds, visit our AT&T Byron Nelson page.Editor’s Note
EVENT HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS
Over its first two years at TPC Craig Ranch, just six players finished inside the top 25 both times: KH Lee, Jordan Spieth, Scott Stallings, Matt Kuchar, Seamus Power, and Vincent Whaley.
KH Lee is in a class of his own in terms of course history after sweeping the first two AT&T Byron Nelsons at TPC Craig Ranch. The rest of the top 10 in course history here features: Jordan Spieth, Scott Stallings, Matt Kuchar, Hideki Matsuyama, Seamus Power, Troy Merritt, Peter Malnati, Davis Riley, and Ryan Palmer.
I believe it’s best to reference recent form across a volume of comp courses than isolate two years of performance here. I’m looking for easy, second shot courses with above average distance and some exposure to gusting winds as comps. These courses yield a high amount of birdies with very few bogeys.
Similar to the Mexico Open, I think Coco Beach most closely resembles the characteristics needed at TPC Craig Ranch, especially if we get more wind. Both courses favor longer hitters without penalty on their tee shots but still offer scoring for the full field.
After Coco Beach, an assortment of courses like CC of Jackson, Silverado Resort, PGA West (Nicklaus & La Quinta) and The Plantation Course at Kapalua each play as second-shot courses that mitigate advantage from position off the tee.
TPC Scottsdale may also fit, given the Tom Weiskopf design connection and correlation for KH Lee, who had his best career finish just three months prior when he placed T2 at the WM Phoenix Open.
Vidanta Vallarta, TPC Twin Cities and Detroit Golf Club rate as more tertiary comps. They have also seen some correlated leaderboards and require a similar skillset of long irons and Birdies or Better Gained.
Combine performance across this list, and the top 10 players in Comp Course History here are: Scottie Scheffler, KH Lee, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth, Akshay Bhatia, Scott Stallings, Maverick McNealy, Mark Hubbard, Seamus Power, and Tyrrell Hatton.
KEY STATS TO CONSIDER
- Birdies or Better Gained
- SG: TOT (Easy Scoring Conditions)
- SG: APP
- Driving Distance
- Prox 200+
- Par 5 Scoring
- SG: Putting (Bent)
- Course & Comp Course History
When we get to a second shot course, approach play comes at the greatest premium. The top 10 players in SG: APP this week are: Tom Hoge, Scottie Scheffler, Tom Kim, Erik van Rooyen, Jordan Spieth, Davis Riley, Eric Cole, Satoshi Kodaira, Jason Day, and Robby Shelton.
Looking more granularly at approaches from 200+, that top-10 list includes: Tom Hoge, Augusto Nunez, Charley Hoffman, Austin Smotherman, Luke List, Davis Thompson, Derek Ernst, Davis Riley, Michael Thompson, and Pierceson Coody.
If the formula is as simple as irons, putting, and birdies, just four players rate out top-30 in each category: Scottie Scheffler, Tyrrell Hatton, Jason Day, Eric Cole, and Sam Ryder.
The four par 5s present the best opportunity to gain separation. The top 10 in terms of Par-5 Scoring are: Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Nate Lashley, Kevin Chappell, Matt Kuchar, Dylan Wu, Vincent Norrman, Beau Hossler, Patton Kizzire, and Hideki Matsuyama.
This week centers around making birdies and capitalizing on easy scoring conditions. Very few situations this week require precision off the tee or advanced scrambling skills. With players hitting both the fairways and greens in regulation at about 72%, this week should come down to who can set up birdie opportunities and convert them.
The top 10 players in Birdie or Better Gained entering this week are: Scheffler, Spieth, Taylor Montgomery, Jason Day, Akshay Bhatia, Sam Ryder, Harry Hall, Dylan Wu, Tyler Duncan, and Tyrrell Hatton. If we take a more granular step to see the players best at Birdies or Better in Easy Scoring Conditions, that top-10 list includes: Scheffler, Montgomery, Duncan, McNealy, Tom Kim, Tom Hoge, Seamus Power, Ryan Palmer, Vincent Whaley, and Davis Riley.
We can’t lean too heavily on correlation charts due to small sample size. That brings some outliers to the fold, such as Double Bogey Avoidance and P3: 150-175 popping up as two of the top stats for this week. I looked beyond that from a modeling perspective and expect those stats to fall further down the list as the sample size grows.
The broader takeaway from these stats suggests that the winner must take advantage of the easiest scoring opportunities, and simply move on with pars on the 200+ par 3s and 490+ par 4s. If players can make it through the week at even par on the six holes which average over, they should position themselves well to contend by taking advantage of birdie opportunities on the other 12 holes.
Eight players in the field rank above average in each of the above 10 key stat categories: Jordan Spieth, Tom Kim, Lanto Griffin, Brandon Wu, Sam Stevens, Dylan Wu, Justin Suh, and Michael Thompson.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: TAYLOR MONTGOMERY
The Taylor Montgomery hype has cooled down from its fever pitch to start the season. But, a return to birdie-fest conditions may be exactly what he needs to return to form. The putting contest in store at TPC Craig Ranch is more akin to the conditions we see predominantly in the Fall Swing. Montgomery kickstarted his 2023 Rookie season with six top-15 finishes over his first seven Fall starts, so he should welcome this return to easy scoring conditions.
Any time a putting contest is mentioned, Montgomery’s name should rise to the top of the list of contenders. He ranks No. 3 in the field in terms of SG: Putting over the last 36 rounds and gained over 5 strokes putting in seven events this season.
One of the longest hitters in this field, these wide-open fairways allow Montgomery to lean on his driver often. That’s something he has not been able to fully exploit more recently on positional layouts like Harbour Town and TPC Sawgrass.
Ranking No. 11 overall in my model this week, Montgomery should be able to lean on his strength of birdie-making, Par-5 Scoring, and Putting to play himself into contention on an ideal course fit at the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE 2023 AT&T BYRON NELSON CHAMPIONSHIP
It’s always interesting to monitor which players are fully motivated to contend and which are looking to tune up their games in the week prior to a Major. This week, I do believe that both Scheffler and Spieth have their full focus on this event, given local ties and the amount of friends and family in town to root them on. Like the Mexico Open, the Winner Without market is worth consideration again, as Scheffler and Spieth enter as imposing favorites.
With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by projected pricing/odds tier for DraftKings.
2023 AT&T Byron Nelson Model Breakdown
In my model, I’m emphasizing SG: APP, Comp Course History, Birdie or Better Gained and Par 5 Scoring, followed by a more balanced mix of SG: TOT (Easy Scoring Conditions), Prox 200+, SG: P (Bent) and Driving Distance.
Scottie Scheffler emerges in the top spot, which is to be expected for the World No. 2. He ranks No. 1 in SG: TOT, Birdies or Better Gained, and Par-5 Scoring and, even with the PGA Championship looming next week, this event feels like it’s Scottie’s to lose.
After Scheffler, the rest of my model’s top 10 this week features: Jordan Spieth, Tom Hoge, Tyrrell Hatton, Jason Day, Davis Riley, Eric Cole, Hideki Matsuyama, Akshay Bhatia, and Maverick McNealy.
A Scheffler single bullet is in consideration for me this week, but if the number is too short, I’ll also look to Maverick McNealy, Taylor Montgomery, Akshay Bhatia, and Eric Cole.
Check back in later this week for more updates, and best of luck navigating 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson odds!
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