GOLF GURU Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) talks us through his favourite fancies for this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson Championship event in Texas.
AT&T Byron Nelson Championship | Thursday-Sunday | Sky Sports
The PGA circus moves on to Dallas this week where Jordan Spieth will be fired up to capture his home title. However, on a course he admits doesn’t suit his eye, Jordan will have his work cut out to deliver a title that must be close to the top of his objectives.
I love Jordan but we will be passing on him at single-digit odds until his form returns. A missed cut at Sawgrass is no kind of warm up for investing at 8/1.
The AT&T Byron Nelson Championship sees us return to Texas for the second half of the Texas swing. After The Players Championship we now move into a series of tournaments that are seen as prearation for the US Open, which is now only four weeks away.
The Byron Nelson is played on the tight TPC Four Seasons Resort course at Las Colinas, is ideal preparation for many elite players who are honing particular aspects of their game for Oakmont in June, as this tree-lined par-70 is always tricky to navigate.
Results right now are key for many with US Open top-60 qualification imminent and the Ryder Cup also very much in mind. TPC Four Seasons is always an interesting test where long and short hitters can compete on a level footing.
This short course in the Irving suburb of Dallas, which measures only 7,166 yards, is a rare par-70. The course can be overpowered by the longer hitters but the amount of rain seen in this area in the last few months will guarantee soft conditions and provide a little bit of a leveller for all.
I think we will see much more of a putting contest this time around. When courses are saturated to this extent, lift clean and place generally comes into affect. What that does is give those who can find fairways a huge advantage, especially if they are good ball strikers with a short game that is firing.
A prerequisite of any PGA event these days is of course a hot putter. Those guys are sometimes not as easy to find as you many think; Ken Duke at Sawgrass last week entered the tournament around 200th in every category of putting. He ended the week ranked 1st or 2nd in every one of those statistics – easy this golf betting, eh?
Steven Bowditch won here last year with a score of -18 on an equally saturated course – Brendan Todd with -14 and Sang Moon Bae with -13 were champions in the previous two years. We are almost certainly looking at a winning score of between -14 and -20 this time around.
A very difficult tournament to forecast this week as a huge storm is expected in the Irving area for most of Thursday.
They don’t do rain on the PGA Tour and you could find the 72 holes squeezed into three and a bit days. I would certainly advise low stakes and maybe even holding off until Thursday to see what we get. I will tweet any updates I can.
My team this week is led by Ryan Palmer (45/1 Bet365). The Texas native has been quite public with his views on the course; in essence, he struggled until 2011 but has enjoyed it over the last four or five years.
Palmer’s last two starts read fourth and 23rd but he is very much a guy for soft short tracks and may just be finding a bit of form. Fourth behind Charley Hoffman at San Antonio, he opened with a 65 at Sawgrass last week and is cracking value in a less than stellar field.
There is a ‘thing’ about Australians always playing well in Texas. Bentgrass greens and high winds reflect many of the conditions they grew up with at home.
Marc Leishman was high on everyone’s list for The Players and to be honest, his 64th was disappointing but his tee-to-green game was not great – making the cut shows how good his short game and putting must have been.
On his last four starts here, Leishman has ended the first round in the top-10 and has great form on similar courses. I think you will see Mark on many a list this week as his two Tour wins have both been on these Bentgrass greens and I am pretty keen on a quote of 33/1 (Ladbrokes).
Jonas Blixt was 19th here a year ago, the same position he occupied at Sawgrass last Sunday. After ending Round 1 in third, backers would have been hoping for a little better.
However, Blixt has almost made a career out of these classical tree-lined courses and in these kind of conditions we can certainly expect him to show up on Sunday. His putter must be hot to have stayed in the top-20 throughout the four days of The Players.
The typical streaky kind of player I look for on these kind of tests, he is a solid each-way bet at big 80/1 (Ladbrokes) odds.
AT&T Byron Nelson Championship – Ryan Palmer to win (45/1 each-way Bet365)
AT&T Byron Nelson Championship – Mark Leishman to win (33/1 each-way Ladbrokes)
AT&T Byron Nelson Championship – Jonas Blixt to win (80/1 each-way Ladbrokes)