2015 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship: Preview, Strategy, Picks
We are only three weeks away from the U.S. Open and the PGA $2.5M Millionaire Maker, so the the 2015 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship is one of your final chances to qualify for the event.
This is the fourth and final event of the season in the state of Texas. This is wisely done to avoid the crazy heat in the middle of the summer, but weather is going to affect this tournament in another fashion – rain.
We all know about the ridiculous rain fall Houston just received and all the horrific flooding. Dwight Howard and several Houston Rockets fans were stranded well into the early morning at the Toyota Center following their Western Conference Finals Game 4 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
We also know how Colonial Country Club received quite a bit of rain fall last week, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area continues to see more precipitation. The Byron Nelson is played in Irving, Texas at TPC Four Seasons Resort, which is located just Northwest of Dallas.
More rain is expected this week, and more rain means two things – a longer course and softer greens. Therefore, we can expect two things – length being a bigger advantage than normal and the course will play easier.
Length More Important than Usual at Byron Nelson
Historically length doesn’t matter too much at the Byron Nelson. Why? Similar to Colonial, the Four Seasons is only a par 70 and plays at a mere 7,166 yards.
But not only will rain make an impact this year, there have been several modifications made to TPC Four Seasons. This includes adding length to some of the holes, adding bunkers and changing the greens. If you are a big believer in course history, which is not a substantial indicator in itself. there’s even less reason to believe in it for this tournament
(more on this later).
There are usually 20-to-30 eagles given up each year at the Four Seasons. This primarily comes at three different holes:
No. 7, 542 Yards, Par 5 – While this hole plays somewhat uphill, it is a significant dogleg left and plays a bit shorter than the distance. With the rain though, having players who carry the ball a long distance in the air will be particularly beneficial for having a chance at eagle. This hole easily gives up the most eagles each year and can sometimes be in the 20s.
No. 11, 323 Yards, Par 4 – There is water along the left side of the fairway and the passage into the green is a bit narrow, but this hole is definitely drivable and the green is fairly large. There are usually a few eagles yielded here.
No. 16, 546 Yards, Par 5 – This hole plays straight uphill and will obviously play particularly long without getting much roll with the soaked fairways. There are typically around 10 eagles recorded here, but it will more likely be closer to five this year and all going to longer hitters.
The last point with length is that driving accuracy won’t be as important this week for two reasons. First off, this course isn’t that heavily treed like Colonial, and the fairways are wider (although more bunkers). Secondly, like last week, there will likely be lift, clean, and place, meaning players will be allowed to improve their lies as long as the ball doesn’t enter a hazard (thanks to the rain).
Putting Odds Per Dollar Into Context
Each week we update our odds per dollar tab, and it’s a useful tab to consider when making your lineups. Chris Kirk had fantastic odds per dollar last week at Colonial, and he ended up taking the title. However, there are many DFS players out there who use odds as their primary tool and go specifically off that.
This is a mistake. Vegas increases the odds for players for several reasons. Some of them are legit reasons (for all sports bettors) and some are for fishy reasons (public sports bettors).
For example, take John Peterson last week. Peterson was $6,900 on DraftKings, and his odds per dollar were amazing. He was approximately 30% used in GPPs. Given that 30% of PGA DFS players didn’t even know who Peterson was until last week, it’s clear DFS players are using odds as their primary tool. The reason Peterson was so great is that he’s from Fort Worth and has been a member at Colonial Country Club since he was 15. While he missed the secondary cut, this is a great reason to use Peterson since his knowledge and experience at the track is significantly greater than the rest of the field.
One reason that Vegas changes the odds is course history. You have to be careful here. If a player has done well here in the past, why? Any player can perform well at a certain track and have it just come down to variance. Does the course actually fir this player’s game? Does he have a ton of experience here outside of just being a veteran player? Is weather helping him?
Essentially, if someone who is a low-salary player and his odds are influenced just because he won the tournament four years ago and had a top-10 finish two seasons ago, that means very little or nothing.
An example of that this week? Jason Dufner, who is $6,900 and has good odds per dollar. Dufner won the Byron Nelson in 2012 and obviously a noteworthy name, a season in which he also won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and placed in the top 10 on 10 separate occasions. He continued his rise in 2013 and eventually won his first major at the PGA Championship. However, he finished T33 in 2013 and T48 in 2014 at the Byron Nelson. Plus, in his 2014-15 campaign, Dufner has one top-10 finish, which was back at the HSBC Champions (mediocre field) in early November, not to mention he’s been very inconsistent since the divorce with his ex-wife, Amanda. Furthermore, Dufner is not a long hitter, which doesn’t boost his chances for eagles.
So, when using the odds per dollar, make sure there is support behind it. If there isn’t support behind it, then it actually means it’s a good fade because others will be using him when they shouldn’t be.
Need help finding the good ones? This is why we provide some of our picks here.
This week you’ll receive my top-three picks at each salary level.
Dustin Johnson $12,700 – I’m a little hesitant of putting Dustin here given how high his salary is and there aren’t many great plays less than $7,000, but there is a lot going for him nonetheless. He’s first in driving distance and eighth in birdie or better percentage, and these are obviously great things considering this is a track you can use driver on just about every hole. Dustin’s two-most recent performances were T69 and T43, but they were at the Players Championship and the Zurich Classic, courses where driving accuracy is more important. Dustin should obliterate this shortish and more open track. Plus, he probably won’t be that highly used considering Jordan Spieth isn’t that much more expensive.
Matt Kuchar $9,500 – Kuchar is the perfect guy for PGA daily fantasy these days. He keeps slipping through the cracks. Yes, again, he’s not a long-ball hitter, but he’s fairly underpriced for how well he’s played this year and just how great of a player he is. His only missed cut was at the Players Championship, a tournament where a ton of the star players missed the cut and often provides odd results because of how many hazards Sawgrass provides. He also has four top 10s and several finishes just outside of that. Since he hasn’t won a tournament this year and the Players was his only event since mid-April, that’s why Kuchar is on the cheap this week.
Justin Thomas $9,200 – I was a little hesitant about Thomas earlier in the year given that he took advantage of some weaker tournaments and his youth, but that clearly isn’t an issue anymore. Along with his fantastic odds, he’s finished T7, T24, T12 and T11 at this last four tournaments, which included the Wells Fargo Championship, Players Championship, Zurich Classic and RBC Heritage. He’s 18th in driving distance and ninth in birdie or better percentage.
Charley Hoffman $8,700 – Amazing odds and his salary makes no sense based on his last six finishes – T10, T30, T64, T9 (Masters) T11 and T11. Hoffman is T38 in driving distance and T30 in birdie or better percentage. No reason to fade him.
Keegan Bradley $8,400 – Another player who has great odds and is too underpriced for his skill. Keegan is 15th in driving distance and is one of the most aggressive players on the PGA Tour. Once in a while he gets erratic off the tee and can have a high round (like his 77 at the Players), but he’s only missed two cuts all season (including the Players) and is typically very good at courses that are more open like the Four Seasons.
Russell Henley $7,900 – Outside of great odds and only one missed cut on the season, Henley is T36 in driving distance and 31st in birdie or better percentage.
Brooks Koepka $7,700 – Koepka has a similar game to Keegan. Once in a while he can have a pretty off day, but then he can also go really low and usually does at more open courses. Along with the odds, Koepka is eighth in driving distance and T10 in birdie or better percentage. Koepka’s only two missed cuts were at the Players and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he actually made the cut at the Arnold Palmer and had to WD on Sunday with his previous rib jury (no longer a concern).
Morgan Hoffman $7,000 – Put Hoffman in the Koepka/Keegan category. He can go low, has two top 10s over the last two-and-a-half months and usually does better at the courses that are more open. Hoffman is T33 in driving distance and T36 in birdie or better percentage.
Brendan Steele $7,000 – Even though Steele missed the cut at the Players and Zurich, he only missed each of them by one stroke. If you take out those tournaments, he’s made each one this season (15 events total). Steele is T10 in driving distance and 17th in birdie or better percentage.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz