The golfing world is constantly evolving. And there’s no better proof of that than the article we published just a few weeks back, extolling how FRACAS could improve on the Official World Golf Ranking’s point allocation. The piece featured the following graphic:
Since then, three of these players have gone on to taste PGA Tour success. Nick Hardy, partnering with Davis Riley, claimed victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Tony Finau held off a charge from Jon Rahm to take the Mexico Open at Vidanta. And, just last week, Wyndham Clark saw off an illustrious field at the Wells Fargo Championship, shooting 19-under par around Quail Hollow to pocket the $3.6 million prize in the latest of the PGA Tour’s designated events.
And while it’s fair to say most golfers eyes will be on the second major of the year next week, the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, some will be eyeing up their chances at the AT&T Byron Nelson to find some form with birdies, position themselves high on the leaderboard and, perhaps, give their FRACAS rankings a boost as well.
K.H. Lee moved into illustrious company last year with his success in McKinney, Texas, becoming a two-time champion at TPC Craig Ranch with a title defense that saw him join Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson as the only players to do so at the tournament. The par-72, 7,438-yard meander around Rowlett Creek, along with the Bentgrass greens, makes this a challenge for which contenders with a hot putter in hand are handsomely rewarded. And while you can expect to see plenty of excitement on the 14th, 12th and sixth holes, there are also many that aren’t the ultimate in risk and rewards.
Will K. H. Lee make it a three-peat or is someone else going to come up through the field to take the crown? Time to look at our AT&T Byron Nelson picks.
Who Will Win the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson? The FRACAS Golf Expert Picks
Sadly, last year’s runner-up Jordan Spieth won’t be able to take his place in the field in Dallas, with a wrist injury ruling him out here and probably beyond with the Texan having to assess his condition week-by-week.
Spieth is one of a number of withdrawals for the AT&T Byron Nelson, but it hasn’t changed our opinion as to who will be the favorite to take the crown. Back for the first time since the Masters, Scottie Scheffler (12.7%) leads the field looking for a first top-10 finish at TPC Craig Ranch. That’s something that seems unimaginable considering his stellar recent form, but his 19-under total was only good enough for T15 last year, while the birdies deserted him in his 2021 debut, with an even-par final round leaving him 11-under and T47.
Despite the withdrawals and Scheffler being such a comfortable favorite with FRACAS, he may have plenty of competition from the likes of Tyrrell Hatton (5.0%), Hideki Matsuyama (4.6%), Jason Day (3.8%) and Adam Scott (3.6%).
But when it comes to looking for value plays amongst the AT&T Byron Nelson odds, it sometimes can be rewarding to check out those players who have previously tasted success around the course. Taylor Montgomery did so back in 2019 at the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying school and it’s easy to see why he shot an 18-under par on that occasion. His ability to find the fairway off the tee matched by his incredible putting skills on the green could see his early-season form return. He will start as our seventh favorite here (2.7%), a similar chance of winning as Tom Kim.
There perhaps isn’t going to be a more feel-good story in the northeast of Dallas this week than that of Aaron Wise. A winner at the AT&T Byron Nelson back in 2018, his lone success on the PGA Tour during his Rookie of the Year run, Wise withdrew from the Masters last month to focus on his mental health. If he can turn back the clock this week and produce the form that saw him dominate from tee-to-green, there’s no reason why he couldn’t be challenging for a place in the top-five, although perhaps just being back in the PGA Tour’s lineups this week should be considered a victory alone, even if he is our eighth favorite (2.6%).
Our longshot for the AT&T Bryon Nelson is a Texan – after all, what else could it be for the Lonestar state? But Ryan Palmer’s T5 finish last year is enough to whet our appetite, especially with his ball-striking seemingly trending in the right direction, although he has missed cuts at each tournament since the Arnold Palmer back at the start of March. He does like TPC Craig Ranch though, having made the weekend four out of his last five visits to the tournament, could Palmer be the perfect sleeper to pick?
Who Will Win the 2023 Soudal Open? The FRACAS Golf Expert Picks
On the DP World Tour meanwhile, the golfers have switched from Italy to Belgium for their national open. It’s the second of four events that form part of the U.S. Open Qualifying series, where the two leading golfers who aren’t otherwise exempt, will earn access to the third major of the year and a shot at recent RBC Heritage winner Matthew Fitzpatrick’s crown.
Our best bet for success in Belgium will bring plenty of joy to the home crowd. Thomas Detry has been plying his trade on the PGA Tour but heads into Antwerp as the FRACAS favorite for success (6.2%) and finally breaking his duck as a professional, despite some impressive results elsewhere. His nearest challenge is expected to come from Thorbjorn Olesen (3.4%) and Alexander Bjork (3.2%).
If you’re looking for DFS plays, it’s maybe worth remembering that Dale Whitnell found himself in a three-way tie for the lead at the halfway stage last year, before fading as a final-round 73 left him outside of the top 20. The Englishman has shown he can piece it together over four rounds, highlighted by a top-10 finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship earlier this season. So long as the putts sink, he could be in for another deep run here.
After spending time stateside in recent seasons, we feel it’s time for Kiradech Aphibarnrat to re-find the form that saw him sparkle a few years back at the PGA Championship, albeit in the then-traditional September spot. Results haven’t been too kind to him on the tour so far this year, with missed cuts in his last three DP World Tour events, including last week in Italy. But the Thai has shown promise on the Asian Tour, including a top-10 finish at the World City Championship. If he can bring that game across to Antwerp, there’s no reason he couldn’t surprise a few.
As ever, there’s value to be had, especially when it comes to fantasy golf. If you’re looking for a true longshot, then what about Aguri Iwasaki? Yet to win on the Japan Golf Tour, there’s something about his game that is just capturing our eye this week. With odds in the region of 200/1 to available, he might be a sleeper for a top-10 finish, especially with his proficiency in finding eagles when it matters most.