The harsh reality of the PGA Tour season is fields for tournaments in between majors can be pretty tough. This week’s AT&T Byron Nelson Classic is a slight exception to that rule, though.
After a few weeks relative short on star power, this week’s stop at TPC Craig Ranch is certainly a better field. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler is back after a couple of weeks off, and stars like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele are all in the field.
This marks the final tune-up before next week’s PGA Championship just over the border in Oklahoma at Southern Hills.
Here’s a quick betting preview for the AT&T Byron Nelson with betting odds from DraftKings Sportsbook:
Favorite to back: Xander Schauffele (+1800)
Schauffele finally got himself another win two weeks ago at the Zurich, which, of course, came in team play. However, this course looks like it sets up well for him. He’s not the longest hitter in the field, but he’s in the top 20 to 30%, and he can go low, ranking 19th on Tour in birdie-or-better percentage. Schauffele historically has had success on bentgrass greens, so he should feel fairly comfortable despite making his maiden voyage at TPC Craig Ranch.
Favorite to fade: Brooks Koepka (+3500)
Maybe we’re stretching the definition of “favorite” here at 35-1, but it’s Brooks Koepka — he’s always a favorite of sorts, right? Anyway, the four-time major winner hasn’t played since the Masters where he missed the cut. He actually has as many missed cuts as made cuts since the new year began. Koepka’s only reason for showing up this week probably is to just get himself ready for the PGA, and one of the big reasons his major history is so good is because of what he can do on the harder courses. He doesn’t typically contend in birdie fests like we can expect this week.
First-round leader: Jhonattan Vegas (+5500)
On paper, Vegas has all the tools to win this tournament. He’s long off the tee, has a very good approach game and eats up the par-5s. His biggest weakness comes around the green, and that doesn’t figure to be a major issue this week. Vegas finished ninth here last year, shooting 67 or better in three of four rounds. Picking him to win, at a number like 55-1, is tough given the players around him this weekend. But as a first-round bet, there could be some value on Vegas, who enters the week ranked eighth on Tour in first-round scoring and was two shots off the lead after Round 1 a year ago.
Long shot to watch: Kurt Kitayama (+10000)
Kitayama is amid a nice little run, finishing second in Mexico two weeks ago and following that up with a top-20 at the Wells Fargo. His tee-to-green game has been in great form, dating all the way back to late February when he finished third at the Honda. Kitayama ranks 12th in the field in driving distance, and he’s a solid long-iron player. The putter certainly goes cold, as it did last week, and his around-the-green game is among the worst in the field. Given how easy it is to hit greens at Craig Ranch, though, the latter shouldn’t be a huge issue, and the former could be rectified by the strong approach play.