May 9, 2023, 11:38 am
The PGA Tour returns this week after last week saw Wyndham Clark earn his first career win and a cool $3.6 million for his efforts. Clark was able to shut the door on Xander pretty early into the back nine on Sunday and ended winning by a comfortable margin of four strokes. International heavyweights Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Sungjae Im, and Adam Scott were able to secure themselves nice paydays landing inside the top ten. Max Homa was also able to bounce back after a couple rough starts to another strong finish at Quail Hollow with a T8.
This week the PGA Tour brings us to the final prep before the second major of the year next week in the PGA Championship. The AT&T Byron Nelson will be played in Dallas, TX at TPC Craig Ranch. This event has had a few other host venues in recent years, but this will be the third consecutive year TPC Craig Ranch will play host to the event.
K.H. Lee will look to be the first golfer since Steve Stricker (John Deere Classic from 2009-2011) to win the same event three consecutive seasons. Going back to 2019 (there was no event played in 2020 due to Covid-19), a South Korean player has won this event with Sung Kang taking down the 2019 edition played at Trinity Forest Golf Club.
If you like birdies, and lots of them, then this is the event for you. Winning scores of -25 and -26 authored by K.H. Lee the past couple years have shown that scoring at will is required to win here. It wasn’t just Lee either as fourteen golfers eclipsed the -20-mark last year. To help scale back on the optics of the score itself, this year’s tournament will be played as a Par-71 as opposed to the Par-72 it has been played at the past two times. The par-5 12th hole has now been converted into a long par-4, but will still be very accessible as players will now be carding birdies instead of eagles on that hole.
TPC Craig Ranch plays as a 7,250-yard (now) Par-71 featuring three par-5s, four par-3s and eleven par-4s. The greens are bentgrass and average in speed, nothing like the lightning speeds we saw last week. The greens are well above average in terms of size to go along with the wide-open fairways. This leads to a fairly high average green in regulation rate, limiting the importance of around the green play this week.
The only defense this course really has is in the par-3s in which three of the four (holes 4, 15, & 7) that play over 215-yards with hole 7 playing 232 yards. All four of the par-3s rank inside the top eight of the most difficult holes on the course, so an extra emphasis on performing well on these hole types will be considered.
156 players will tee it up this week with the traditional cutline after 36 holes of the top 65 and ties moving on to play the weekend.
Jordan Spieth withdrawing hurts the field strength for sure, but this is still one of the better non-designated event fields we have seen this year. The fact that this is a Texas event helps, as a lot of the players are from Texas and like to play in their home state. This is also the last chance to sharpen your game before next week’s major. 24 of the top 90 in the world are here to tee it up including the returns of Hideki Matsuyama (injury) and Texas native Aaron Wise (mental health).
Per Data Golf, TPC Craig Ranch has played as the third easiest scoring course relative to par. So, along with the key stats below, I will take into consideration players who perform well at “easy” courses and take into consideration player performances at weaker field events.
Here are the key stats I am considering when building my lineups this week.
- SG: Approach– Iron play is always on this list and forever will be. It is the most correlated long-term stat with success. With no issues for most of the players off the tee this week, their second shots will need to be crisp to set them up for ample scoring opportunities.
- SG: P (Bentgrass)– Obviously putting will be crucial in a birdie fest such as this. I will drill down to see who in the field perhaps putts better than their baseline when putting on bentgrass greens.
- Opportunities Gained– If you don’t have access to Fantasy National, using birdie or better % is perfectly fine as well. Basically, what we are looking to do is to look for players who can give themselves/convert on their birdie opportunities.
- Par 3 Scoring (200-225): While scoring is as accessible on these holes as the rest of the course, we want to make sure the golfers we select are falling behind the pack by under performing on the par-3s this week.
- Par 5 Scoring- Scoring on par-5s is an absolute must this week to keep pace. The three easiest holes on the course are the par-5s (pending the results of the now converted 12th hole).
Follow me on Twitter @mlafem10 for additional thoughts as the week goes on and I’d be happy to help out with any lineup questions you have. Let’s make some money!
Round 1 Props
Thrive Contest Plays for Thursday’s Round 1 Action
Scottie Scheffler 68.5 Stokes: LESS (110 PTS)- This is the third week in a row they are offering us the top player on the board to open at -3 or better. It worked the first two weeks and I have no reason to believe we can’t keep the train chugging along with Scottie here. Scheffler is the class of the field this week and even with a major looming next week, I suspect his Texas pride will take the forefront this week to a strong performance.
Si Woo Kim 70.5 Strokes: LESS (100 PTS)- As mentioned earlier in the article, South Koreans have had quite a run at this tournament in recent memory. Si Woo rates out well stats wise heading into Thursday as he has been much more consistent off the tee and with his irons and all we are asking Si Woo to do here is to have an under-par round at a very easy course. Easy click for me.
Matt Kuchar 4.5 Birdies: MORE (120 PTS)- I was a little surprised when I first saw this line and was ready to smash the under until I looked at it more. Kuchar has two top 20 appearances at Craig Ranch and has eclipsed this number in 5 of 8 career rounds. He also comes in with excellent form with three consecutive top 25’s including a 3rd at Valero which was also played in Texas.
Props Record YTD
DFS Top Tier Play
I am really going to be attacking in-form players this week and Hatton comes in playing some of the best golf of his career right now (on U.S. soil anyway). Three top 5 finishes in his last 6 starts and he has the game for this course. Hatton is reliable off the tee and has enough distance to be able to give himself short irons into most of the par-4s. Speaking of par-4s, Hatton is one of the best in the field in par-4 scoring, especially in the 450+ yard range. Hatton also ranks 1st in the field over his last 12 rounds in par-3 scoring from 200-225 yards. I liked this play a lot more before the Spieth W/D, so I expect some additional ownership to be funneled to Tyrrell, but I like the savings he provides to start a lineup with and a good amount of win equity.
Others Considered: Hideki Matsuyama ($9,800), Scottie Scheffler ($11,900)
DFS Mid Tier Play
C-Bez is not somebody I play all that often. However, after drilling down into my research this week, he is somebody that I am excited to plug into my lineups this week. Bez comes in with tremendous form after a slow start to the season with finishes of 13th, 28th, and 19th in his last three. Bentgrass greens are the surface he gains the most strokes on putting wise and his putter has really heated up as of late, gaining 3.9, 2.4 and 5.1 strokes to the field in his last three with the flat stick. His iron game has also been on point, gaining over 3 strokes to the field in his last three events. In his last 12 rounds, he is top ten in the field in both of the key par-3 and par-4 ranges. For the cherry on top, he had a 12th place finish in his debut at this course last year, which will work out just fine if he can produce that again.
Others Considered: Tom Hoge ($8,500), Stephan Jaeger ($8,200)
DFS Value Play
Don’t look now, but the 2016 PGA Champion is in some really nice form right now with four straight top 25 finishes. He is gaining strokes across the board and has really found it with his putter, gaining over three strokes to the field in three consecutive tournaments. Normally, I do not like to chase a hot putter and hope it continues but he is playing well enough in other areas of his game that I am comfortable going with Jimmy here. It also seems we may be able to get him at an ownership discount compared to others in his price range as I expect a lot of steam to be headed towards the likes of Eric Cole ($7,400), Nate Lashley ($7,200), and Dylan Wu ($7,500).
Others Considered: Austin Smotherman ($7,100), Nate Lashley ($7,200)
Tom Hoge +5000
Scott Stallings +6500
Nate Lashley +7500
Michael Kim +9000
Position Player Name DK Salary G Tyrrell Hatton $10,100 G Christiaan Bezuidenhout $8,000 G Jimmy Walker $7,100 G Hideki Matsuyama $9,800 G G REMAINING BUDGET $15,000 for 2 golfers
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