Let’s start off with a quick look back at last week’s results. If you read the article, on BIGPLAY, last week I listed potential contenders at the Wells Fargo Championship. Those golfers came from one of three categories; recent form (finishing place in recent tournaments), statistical data (ranking on Strokes Gained data), and course history (how golfers have finished at a particular course). Due to a little overlap, thirteen golfers were listed. Mickelson and Castro both missed the cut. Two players were in serious contention, Joel Dahmen (2nd) and Justin Rose (3rd). Rory McIlroy (T8) hung close to the top most of the tournament. The other eight golfers mentioned last week made the cut with various finishing positions. For those doing daily fantasy sports (DFS) or golf betting it was not too bad of a week. The only problem was I did not see Max Homa coming, at all. Congratulations to him on his first win. Homa, obviously, has the talent to win this type of tournament, but I’m not so sure he has what it takes to contend at majors and other big-time events. As I mentioned last week, the Wells Fargo is the type of tournament that opens up an opportunity for all types of golfers and the leaderboard showed that.
This week we have the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas. Some key course aspects per @SmartGolfBets; open, easy, links style, little rough with no trees, medium speed greens (huge). There is always one major component to playing in Texas, the wind. Past leaderboards at this tournament are littered with “wind specialists”. Many Texas natives and players from other windy areas around the world (i.e. Australia) tend to do very well at this tournament. For those of you out there that put your hard earned dollars into betting or fantasy golf, this is where an extra bit of research on players comes in handy. This article’s look at course history will provide some insight into players that do well in the wind, however, looking at the results of other Texas tournaments would be a good strategy here.
As I will mention each week, there are a couple of different ways to look at who might contend at a tournament in any given week. The most popular are current form (recent strong finishes in tournaments), statistics (generally a combination of important Strokes Gained data), and course history (play well at a particular course). Truly, some combination of these three would be the best way to determine contenders. In the end, however, we never truly know, we are just trying to make educated guesses.
I want to give a few golfers from each of these main categories that could contend at this year’s AT&T Byron Nelson. First off we will look at five golfers that have current form. This will be based solely on their recent performance in tournaments (although they could show up in other categories as well).
Rory Sabbatini (the “other” Rory): In his last five tournaments he has finishes of T18 (Wells Fargo), T10 (Heritage), T36 (Valero), T39 (Corales), and T18 (Valspar). For reference, Sabbatini is 20th for my stats data.
Sungjae Im: In his last five tournaments he has finishes of; T31 (Wells Fargo), MC (Heritage), T20 (Valero), T7 (Corales), and T4 (Valspar). Im is 11th for my stats data. He has the talent to win. A good field to go out and get his first win, however, recent form and stats are trending the wrong way.
Sam Burns: In his last five tournaments he has finishes of; W/D (Wells Fargo), 9th (Heritage), T23 (Valero), T12 (Corales), and T30 (Valspar). Burns is 60th for my stats data. His recent finishes are certainly trending toward a win and this is the field to do it against. The withdrawal last week is a concern.
Brian Stuard: In his last four tournaments he has finishes of; T16 (Heritage), T4 (Valero), MC (Corales), and T18 (Valspar). Stuard is 14th for my stats data. I don’t believe he is talented enough to win but can certainly manage a top 20 in this field.
Matt Jones: In his last four tournaments he has finishes of; T38 (Wells Fargo), T30 (Valero), T18 (Corales), and T13 (Valspar). Jones is 29th for my stats data. This Aussie tends to have his best finishes in Texas, wind specialist.
Bonus (I know this is six but I had to list this guy)
Adam Schenk: In his last five tournaments he has finishes of; T13 (Wells Fargo), MC (Heritage), T7 (Valero), T33 (Corales), and MC (Valspar). Schenk is 9th for my stats data. This guy will win a tournament at some point. He has played well in Texas and this is the type of field he can contend against.
Next is a list of five players with strong statistical data. These players come from a ranking list which is determined by a weighted Strokes Gained stats. Those stats include SG: Ball-striking, SG: Approach, SG: Tee to Green, Birdies or Better (BoB), Bogey Avoidance, and Greens in Regulation (GIR). There are a few other ancillary stats thrown in and they are weighted from a couple of different timeframes as well. Rankings are looked at and weighted over the player’s last 12 rounds and last 50 rounds. I use Fantasy National to help easily choose stats that relevant and rank players.
1.) Hideki Matsuyama – always high when it comes to looking at stats. One of the best players in the world. Just needs to putt average to blow away the field.
2.) Henrik Stenson – another stats monster. Health is an issue with him but when he is on, he can run away with any tournament.
3.) Brooks Koepka – “Big Game” hunter. Not sure he cares enough about this tournament to put any effort in. Likely a PGA Championship primer for him. If he wants to he can win easily.
4.) Trey Mullinax – another mainstay in stats rankings this year. As I have said with several players, this is the field to get his first win against. He was T2 at Valero, in Texas, earlier this year.
5.) Scottie Scheffler – his stats are helped by a small number of PGA rounds. Scheffler is still on the Web.com Tour but he is really good. He was born in Texas and played college golf at the University of Texas. He will win on the PGA, it just might be a little too early.
Lastly, here are five golfers with a strong history at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Jimmy Walker: In the last five years he has finishes of; T6 (2018), T24 (2016), T2 (2015), and T37 (2014). Jimmy’s best golf is behind him and health is always a concern. If he can ever be as good as he once was, Texas would be the place. Walker is 67th for my stats data.
Marc Leishman: In the last five years he has finishes of; 2nd (2018), T13 (2017), MC (2016), MC (2015), and T3 (2014). Where there is wind, Leishman will contend (it’s an Aussie thing). Leishman is 21st for my stats data.
Charles Howell III (Chuckie three sticks): In the last five years he has finishes of; T9 (2018), T4 (2016), MC (2015), and T3 (2014). The automatic cut maker has missed two cuts in a row. After starting the season with his best golf in years Howell is now, uncharacteristically, missing cuts. Howell is 24th for my stats data.
Jordan Spieth: In the last five years he has finishes of; T21 (2018), MC (2017), T18 (2016), T30 (2015), and T37 (2014). I thought maybe Spieth had retired from golf. Even with his past successes in Texas, I can’t back him until he proves he can get out of his own way. Spieth is 74th for my stats data.
Brook Koepka: In the last five years he has finishes of; T50 (2017), 2nd (2016), T16 (2015), and MC (2014). Let’s face it, Brooks is warming up for next week’s major. With that said, he could win against this field in practice mode. Koepka is 3rd for my stats data.
As I will say each week, there are certainly many other golfers to consider for contention in this tournament. This gives you a quick glance at some guys that could be in contention come Sunday based particular information. Once again, the best method to narrow things down would be to take a combination of factors into consideration. There are many in the golf betting/fantasy community that look very strongly at one of these methods over any others. Some that discount a method, or two, completely (there is always a debate as to whether course history is really a thing).
This week there was not much overlap between the three categories. I did give my stats data rankings for the golfers in the other two categories for reference. This is what some might call a “weak” field but this type of tournament brings many golfers into contention that aren’t normally there. Matsuyama, Stenson, and Brooks are the three biggest names and could certainly run away with this if on their game. Outside of that it is a wide open tournament. I think many of the names on this list will fair well in this tournament. The winner may even be among them (Scottie Scheffler, sshhhh!).