AT & T Byron Nelson
It was another frustrating ‘nearly’ week for us at TPC with both Poulter on our main team & Sabbatini as our FRL pick falling one shot shy of a place [and in Sabbatini’s case a share of the win as well] return.
Still this is all part of golf betting and of course you would like to think that over a season these kind of things even themselves out.
So we dust ourselves down and move on.
The PGA Tour is now done with Florida for this season and it’s back to Texas for the next two weeks starting with this weeks AT & T Byron Nelson.
The tournament has been named after the late Byron Nelson since 1968 and until this year had been held at The TPC Four Seasons Resort, Las Colinas, Irving.
This year however the event moves to the Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.
From a betting point of view the field is headed up by Jordan Spieth who is sure to be a warm order this week allowing for his local connections. Also in attendance are Kuchar, , Garcia, Matsuyama and Branden Grace, however all in all it is a weaker field this week, which is only to be expected the week after TPC.
As noted above this year the event moves to the Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.
The course is a par 71 playing at 7380 yards.
The greens are Bermuda.
The course is a Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design which opened for play in the Autumn of 2016.
The course is a treeless links course with undulating terrain and undoubtedly has the feel of British Open type venue.
The course features a driveable par 4 which is the 5th hole measuring at 315 yards. The longest Par 5 is the 14th hole measuring at 630 yards.
The 1st hole is a reachable par 5 so for those starting on the 1st on Thursday and Friday it is a good opportunity to get off to a fast start with an early birdie.
This section is normally a pretty key pointer to the week coming up and I like to think it is usualy filled with valuable historical nuggets!
This week however with a brand new course in play there is very little relevance or point in me going in to the recent history of the type of winners the course/event has seen or indeed the winning scores.
One general point I would make though is that Texans or players with clear Texas connections have over the years tended to play very well in Texas and we saw this once again with Landry winning recently and with Beau Hossler who so nearly landed us a big touch in Houston a few weeks back.
This week with a new course in play I would again see this as being very likely to be the case as of course Texans, and particularly those local to the Dallas area, are likely to have taken a look at the course, will be able as always to handle the Texas winds and also will be used to the heat, which looks like being a factor this week.
My last point above leads me nicely on to this weeks forecast which if what I’m looking at is to be believed can be summed up in two words. Very Hot!!
Whilst you can never rule out a storm in Texas basically it looks like we are in for a dry week with all four days being in the mid to upper, 90s so I would expect the course to play firm and fast.
When I travelled around the US a bit I was in Texas on a day that it was 98 degrees and I can personally vouch for the fact that this is very, very warm.
I could barely manage 5 minutes outside of the air conditioned car in this heat so the idea of playing a 4 ½ hr round of golf in this certainly wouldn’t appeal to me and I sympathise with the poor caddies!
The other factor this week will be the wind. This is set to blow a bit as always tends to be the case in Texas with 15mph anticipated most days.
With the course being a links course this will then of course take on extra significance.
Obviously when any new course is introduced to the PGA Tour rota there is an element of guess work in play, however Trinity Forest being such an out & out Links style course it seems clear to me we need to focus this week on home state players or links specialists.
Obviously the player who ticks both of those boxes this week and leaps of the page as the most likely winner is Jordan Spieth. Basically this course looks made for him.
I had hoped that allowing for his indifferent play of late and his sloppy finish yesterday there would have been some 8-1 available but the bookies are obviously frightened of him this week for legitimate reasons.
Therefore whilst he is undoubtedly the most likely winner of the event I can’t bring myself to pull the trigger from the outset at 11-2 on a player who has clearly struggled of late.
Instead I will monitor his start and may well look to get him onside on the exchanges if he starts slowly or even makes an early bogey.
In the meantime though we shall focus on other players at bigger prices and I have gone with five players this week as follows;
JIMMY WALKER – 20 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED T6th
First cab of the rank this week is a player who is rounding in to form very nicely at the moment in the shape of Jimmy Walker.
Walker is a six time PGA tour winner including one victory in his adopted home state of Texas at the Valero Texas Open.
Now all but returned to full health following his battle with Lyme Disease Walker has been building up a head of steam of late and has two top 5s in his last two solo PGA Tour starts.
Based on this upward curve you would think it only a matter of time before Jimmy now returns to the winners enclosure.
As stated earlier players who are based in/from Texas have an excellent record in their home state tournaments and whilst not local to the Dallas area I am sure he will be more than used to the windy conditions and searing heat the players will have to contend with this week.
With regards to the course and how it will fit Walker’s eye there is obviously an element of guess work here but the fact that Jimmy is a two time winner of the Sony Open as well as a former winner at Pebble Beach certainly backs up the fact that he can play well in the wind.
One other factor I find encouraging from a course correlation point of view is that Walker finished 9th in the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst No 2, as this course is perhaps as close as they have in the USA to a true links test on their major roster and I can therefore see similarities to this week’s venue.
In a week where there is bound to be an element of speculation I am keen to have onside this in form, Texas based, proven winner.
BRANDEN GRACE – 25-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED T3rd
Whenever an event is due to be held on a links style course one of the first names that comes to mind is that of South African Branden Grace.
Grace was brought up on firm, fast conditions in South Africa and is attached to the Fancourt links course in the Western Cape.
Unsurprisingly therefore his game has translated well to the links style tests offered in Europe and in the USA.
To back this up he is a former winner of the Dunhill Links which includes St Andrews in its course roster. In addition he has won at Hilton Head in the US and came very close to winning the US Open at Chambers Bay, another links style test.
Finally of course he showed again what a great links player he is at Birkdale last summer when becoming the first player to shoot 62 in a Major Championship.
As some of you may know Branden and his wife Nieke recently welcomed their first child, a son Roger, in to the world.
Whilst this means that Branden was perhaps understandably a bit rusty at TPC after a month off, long term followers of golf betting will know that this fact brings the time honoured ‘nappy factor’ theory in to play.
For those unfamiliar with this it is a simple theory that when a player’s first child is born when they return to tour the euphoria and contentment they feel as a result of this can often lead to a feeling of calmness on the course which in turn leads to a win.
Whilst of course this isn’t always the case there have been enough examples of this over the years to give credence to the theory and we saw the most recent case of it in the form of Andrew Landry’s victory in Texas only a few weeks ago.
Prior to his break for the birth of his son Branden was piecing together a solid season on the PGA Tour with no missed cuts. His last two stroke play starts have yielded a top 10 at Valspar, followed by his best ever performance at Augusta.
I am therefore confident that after a week to dust of the cobwebs Branden can hit the ground running again at a course that should be absolutely perfect for him.
BEAU HOSSLER – 40-1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED 32nd
Next up this week is another Texan based player Beau Hossler.
The first point to make about Hossler this week is not only is a he an adopted son of Texas after his stellar college career their, but he also plays out of this weeks host course Trinity Forest.
Backing a player who is playing on basically their home course can sometimes be a poisoned chalice for two reasons. Firstly the pressure that comes with playing in front their home crowd, secondly of course whilst they may well play the course regularly they are not playing it under the tournament set up with regards to green speeds etc so they could actually be thrown off come event week.
In relation to Beau this week though I am not concerned on either of these fronts.
Firstly he showed when nearly winning at Houston that he can rise to the occasion of playing in front of his partisan home state crowd.
With regards to the second point I feel this week it could actually be a huge bonus. After all as we have established this is no ordinary course and it must be an advantage to Beau [as I’m sure it will be to Spieth] over the vast majority of the field to have got to know the various bumps and hollows of the track over the past year plus.
Following on from this point the strongest part of Beau’s game is arguably the flat stick and this is certainly something that should stand him in good stead this week.
Since his near miss at Houston where he was incredibly composed down the stretch Beau has continued to perform quietly impressively at venues he has been seeing for the first time such as Sawgrass and Hilton Head, and which you wouldn’t necessarily think would suit his game.
I am therefore confident Beau can go close to his first PGA tour victory on his home course this week.
GRAEME MCDOWELL – 66-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED MC
This weeks field has a few old links ‘war horses’ in it who obviously feel this event could suit them and whilst it would not be a surprise to see Padraig or even Ernie go well on this track the one that I feel I want to include this week is Gmac.
As we all know Gmac was brought up in Portrush and honed his golf skills playing links golf.
Therefore any time the wind is likely to blow he enters the conversation.
In addition of course with his vast experience in Europe on links courses and as a regular visitor to St Andrews for the Dunhill Links he will be far more at home on these types of vast undulating greens than the vast majority of the field.
Graeme has been working hard on his game for the past 9 months or so to try and recapture his old form.
Whilst this hasn’t yet shown huge dividends there have been glimmers of light over the past few months. For example Gmac was right in the hunt at the midway stage at Riviera and was 27th last time out at Wells Fargo, his third consecutive cut made.
It is also positive to note that the one area of Gmac’s game which has been in good working order consistently this year is the flat stick and he currently sits 18th in SGP and this is sure to stand him in good stead this week.
I’m sure Gmac will have been hugely frustrated to have missed out on TPC this year for the first time in many years and hopefully he will have been inspired enough by another former US Open champion grabbing his first win in 5 years at Sawgrass to have a big week this week.
CODY GRIBBLE – 150-1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED 32nd
My final selection this week goes to another Texan, indeed Dallas native in the form of Cody Gribble.
One of the fun things of this golf betting lark is that every now and then you stumble upon a more left field selection that you just think “hang on, this guy really does tick a lot of boxes this week” and the more you look at him the more you think he’s a must back.
So here’s the case for Gribble.
First and foremost he’s a local man and whilst I can find know huge evidence of it he must have had plenty of experience on the course.
Gribble played alongside Jordan Spieth at the University of Texas when they won the 2012 NCAA Championships and hopefully will have had the odd round or two with Jordan on the course.
Since winning his maiden PGA tour title at the 2016 Sandersons Farm Championship it’s been a pretty grim time for Cody, however on the back of seven consecutive missed cuts he popped up out of nowhere with a really solid 30th place finish at Sawgrass.
The strength of Gribble’s game in his first year on tour was the putter and he finished the 16-17 season 15th in SGP.
This year however the putter has gone cold or at least it had done until TPC where he finished the week 10th in SGP.
In addition Cody was 17th in GIR at Sawgrass, another really encouraging sign.
Once I had established that we were looking at a local player who had ‘found something’ last week I next went hunting for evidence of form on other comparable tracks and I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Cody had finished 21st at the US Open back in 2014 at Pinehurst No 2.
Furthermore Gribble finished a solid 14th at Kapalua in the Tournament of Champions back in 2017.
Gribble showed he wasn’t afraid to win when closing out his victory at the Sandersons in 2016 and I can see him giving us a big run at a big price this week.
UPDATED 16th MAY
TRADER - BEN CRANE FINISHED 53rd - BEST PRICE TRADED 150
This weeks trader is yet another Texas based player in the form of five time PGA tour champion Ben Crane.
Crane is winless since 2014 however he has found a little bit of rhythm of late making his last four cuts culminating in an 11th place finish in his most recent solo start at the Valero Texas Open.
Crane's main strength in his game has always been his putter and this year is no exception as he currently sits 20th in SGP and this should stand him in good stead this week on the vast greens in play.
As a Texas resident he will obviously be used to the heat and winds the players will have to contend with this week.
In addition it is also worth noting that he is a former winner at both Torrey Pines and Sea Island so this also backs up the fact that he can play well in the wind.
Ben has a decent early tee time so I am hopeful he can get off to a fast start and go on to have a good week.
CURRENTLY TRADING @ 310+