The AT&T Byron Nelson has a new home this year as it has left Trinity Forrest for TPC Craig Ranch. It will be the first TOUR event held at the course, though a couple of the current Korn Ferry Tour Championships were held on it back in 2008 and 2012. A few names from those events will tee it up with the TOUR this week, but there seems to be little to glean from those results.
In all, the more content you can take in about TPC Craig Ranch the better. My course preview article this week really breaks down how I will be viewing the course. Additionally, Matt Vincenzi’s stats that matter provides a solid breakdown of how he sees the course playing as well.
My approach to the week will be pretty straight-forward as I see it favoring the bombers, preferably those who can also roll it pretty well on the greens, and I believe it will be really low scoring unless the winds really pick up. Right now, the best chance for that is in the final round on Sunday, but I can’t play for that this far out. I am going to focus almost entirely on birdie makers, eliminating the bogey avoidance I have seemingly relied on for several weeks in a row.
Let’s get into the plays.
Bryson DeChambeau ($11,200 DK/$12,300 FD)
My pick to win this week is Bryson DeChambeau and that makes him my top play in DFS lineups as well. He has all of the skills I am looking for this week at an event that seems to favor distance, without a need to be overly accurate. While he struggled a bit on approach at the Wells Fargo, much of that was done in a couple of shots into the water to start the week, and he was still able to move his way to a Top 10 finish. I expect Bryson to come out ready to contend and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to find some separation from this field as things finish up on Sunday.
Will Zalatoris ($9,700 DK/$11,000 FD)
This is my “don’t overthink it” play of the week. I know Willy Z will be highly owned, and I am just fine with that. He noted in his interview on Tuesday that he has played this course dozens of times, many while growing up in the area and a junior golf tournaments. He will have the course knowledge advantage, which is rare for a rookie on TOUR and it could be just the edge he needs for that first victory. He’s a birdie maker, long enough off the tee, and should have some knowledge of these greens to help him make some extra putts throughout the week. All of this lines up for eating the chalk on Zalatoris and finding ways to be different elsewhere.
Pivot: I understand that I have provided two of the chalkiest options up top, which will require us to get different down low. If you want a pivot to another high-class player in this field, for me, it’s Jon Rahm ($11,000 DK/$12,200 FD). He has just as much upside and win equity this week as DeChambeau or Jordan Spieth, but appears to be getting overlooked in favor of those two guys. He also has a similar skillset of length and birdie-making ability, which should fit well at TPC Craig Ranch.
Luke List ($8,400 DK/$10,200 FD)
One of my buys coming into the week before any research was Luke List. He played really solidly last week at the Wells Fargo, and I will look for him to carry that play into this week on a course that should fit his game. List has long been known as a guy who can make birdies in bunches when his putter is on, as he has always had a top notch ball-striking game. He’s one of the longer players off the tee and after a sixth-place finish at Quail Hollow, he should have the confidence going to put himself back in contention this week.
Cameron Champ ($8,000 DK/$9,700 FD)
I can’t keep talking about how much of an advantage distance is at this course and not include Champ in my plays. He is well known as one of the longest players on TOUR, and he comes in off a solid finish at the Zurich a couple of weeks ago where he paired with Tony Finau. Champ won’t have to be too precise off the tee around this course, and with large greens on approach, he should be able to put himself in position to score. He is always a player I am more willing to target in low-scoring events, and this is a tournament that should suit him well.
Rickie Fowler ($7,700 DK/$9,500 FD)
There are several picks in this range who make a lot of sense, and some who you can take to be contrarian with the chalk we have up top. Fowler fits the latter category for me as he has continued to be strong off the tee over the last several events, and certainly has the distance to fit the skillset I want on this course. His issue of late has been inconsistency with his irons, but I don’t see this as a course he has to be overly precise on approach.
I don’t really see Fowler finding a win or anything crazy like that, but at 6% owned and a price tag he can pay off well with a Top 20 and a bunch of birdies, he makes a lot of sense for an upside play. Fowler has always had preference for bentgrass greens like he will see at TPC Craig Ranch, and if this turns into the putting contest many are predicting, it’s hard not to like him to be in the mix.
Pivot: Near the top of this range, Jason Day ($8,900 DK/$10,300 FD) is intriguing to me. He has actually been quite good with his ball striking lately, and we know he has the distance to compete when in form, but it’s actually been his typically sharp putter that has let him down. If he can find the flat stick, I like him to be able to contend this week and he’s just projected for 3% ownership with all of the chalk up top.
Erik van Rooyen ($7,400 DK/$9,000 FD)
One player who immediately comes to mind when I think of birdie fests like I expect this week is EVR. He is a top-flight scorer, and I don’t think there are many potential double bogeys around this track to set him back. His biggest issue has been those big numbers, which make him a tough sell for me on tougher courses, but that doesn’t appear to be a concern this week.
Tom Lewis ($7,000 DK/$8,200 FD)
I find myself attracted to some of the same plays I made last week, and Tom Lewis was one of those. My reliance on off the tee and distance has some similar players popping. One big difference this week is I don’t expect the course to be as difficult, so if I can find a guy with the right skillset and scoring ability on an easier track, it seems to be a good fit. Lewis appeared dead-to-rights after a tough opening round in Charlotte, but nearly climbed back inside the cut with a solid Friday round. He had an eagle and seven birdies in two rounds at Quail Hollow that was crushed by big numbers. I’ll go back here with the expectation he may build off of the good from the start last week.
Will Gordon ($6,800 DK/$8,000 FD)
Another long player I had last week was Will Gordon. He, too, fell short of the cut, but has been notably better on the easier courses. I was probably a bit ambitious in my hopes for him last week in Charlotte with all of the trouble that lurks at Quail Hollow, but he should find things much smoother in Texas.
Kristoffer Ventura ($6,400 DK/$7,800 FD)
Ventura also missed the cut last week in Charlotte and he’s in a similar mold to the other players noted above. He carded nine birdies through two rounds last week, but he just couldn’t avoid the crushing bogey. He’s a player who has been showing me a bit of better form even without the results over the last few weeks, and I expect him to break through for a solid finish this week.
Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Pictured: Cameron Champ