The week before a major is always a mixed bag in terms of field strength, but the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson has attracted a packed field. That included World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who withdrew on Monday, but as of writing still consists of a star-studded field with Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka teeing it up.
They will battle it out at TPC Craig Ranch, a new venue on the PGA Tour schedule. Without historical data to crunch for DFS purposes, it’ll make our job a little tougher. What we do know: TPC Craig Ranch appears to be a par 72 playing more than 7,400 yards with a number of longer par 4s and par 3s. The four par 4s appear to be reachable in two, and in general, there are generous landing areas off the tee. To us, this appears to be set up for a birdie fest.
Using comparable courses from RickRunGood.com the most important stats for this week seem to be strokes gained/off the tee and birdie or better percentage. We will look to find golfers who fit that mold at the right price!
Here are my favorite plays (and fades) in each price range for the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson.
Price range: $9,000 and above
High Upside: Jon Rahm ($11,000 DraftKings | $12,200 FanDuel)
Are you ready to forgive Jon Rahm? His missed cut last week ended a run of 22 consecutive events making the weekend, but more important to me is how he missed the cut. In two rounds, Rahm was excellent with the driver (gaining 2.56 strokes) and a small positive on his approaches (+0.17). If you combine those “ball-striking” numbers, he was better than Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Viktor Hovland and just about anyone else in the field through two rounds. The difference was that Rahm lost 2.72 strokes around the green and lost another 1.21 strokes with the putter. That’s uncharacteristic for Rahm, who statistically has one of the best short games on tour over the past two seasons. It’s logical to think a bounce-back is coming.
Safest Option: Jordan Spieth ($10,700 DraftKings | $11,800 FanDuel)
It’s a little scary placing Spieth in the “safe” category, but it’s well-deserved. In his past eight events, he’s produced seven top-15 finishes, five top-five finishes and a victory. Since the start of 2021, he’s the only golfer on the PGA Tour averaging over two strokes gained per round. During that stretch, he’s gained strokes in all four major strokes-gained categories, which provides him a solid floor with plenty of upside.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Hideki Matsuyama ($10,300 DraftKings | $11,500 FanDuel)
Matsuyama’s victory at the Masters was nothing short of amazing, but I wonder how much practice time he’s been able to get in the weeks after. We know he was celebrated all across Japan and was honored with countless awards. Has that cut into his preparation for this week? Even if it didn’t, his victory at the Masters was the first time he gained strokes off the tee in four starts, and he has lost in that category in six of his past nine. With expectations at an all-time high, I will take a cautious approach on Matsuyama.
Pick To Win: Bryson DeChambeau ($11,200 DraftKings | $12,300 FanDuel)
DeChambeau was absolutely horrible with his irons and wedges last week, losing 5.25 strokes on approach. He played so poorly that he thought he missed the cut and flew home to Dallas after the second round, having to return at 2:45 a.m. before his Saturday tee time. He made a triple bogey on the easiest hole on the course and had two more double bogeys on the card. He played the par 5s at even par. Despite all of that he finished T-9 and had the second-best weekend score of anyone. That’s how good DeChambeau can be and now he heads to TPC Craig Ranch, which seems like it was made for his game.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
$8,000 to $9,000
High Upside: Keith Mitchell ($8,000 DraftKings | $9,300 FanDuel)
Mitchell was second in the field last week in SG/off the tee and his 20 birdies was second in the field. That skill-set isn’t unique to last week as Mitchell has been flashing greatness for a few starts now. He’ll be able to unleash the driver at TPC Craig Ranch, and his birdie-making prowess makes him an intriguing option again this week.
Safest Option: Harris English ($8,700 DraftKings | $10,400 FanDuel)
After his victory at the Tournament of Champions, English entered a dismal stretch of golf. However, it appears like he’s starting to turn the tide. He finished T-43 at the Wells Fargo Championship and T-21 at the Masters. Generally his metrics are solid, gaining strokes across the board. If he can return to any semblance of his 2020 form, he’s $1,000 underpriced.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Jason Day ($8,900 DraftKings |$10,300 FanDuel)
Day is almost unrecognizable these days—not only with his shaggy beard but also with his game. The once electric ball-striker has lost strokes on approach in five of his past seven starts. Once the game’s best putter, Day has lost a combined 12.72 strokes putting in his past 11 rounds, per the RickRunGood.com golf database.
Pick To Win: Si Woo Kim ($8,800 DraftKings | $10,700 FanDuel)
What Kim lacks in consistency, he replaces with upside. Already a winner this year, Kim has found the weekend in five straight starts highlighted by his T-9 at the Players and his T-12 at the Masters. He’s gained strokes on approach in six straight events, which should hopefully foreshadow his form this week in Texas.
$7,000 to $8,000
High Upside: Peter Uihlein ($7,600 DraftKings | $9,700 FanDuel)
Uihlein continues to split his time between the Korn Ferry Tour and the PGA Tour, and he continues to play well. His last two KFT starts have resulted in a victory and a T-7. He’s also made the cut in each of his last four PGA Tour starts, including a T-22 in Puntacana and a T-57 at the Valspar. He’s playing well and looking for his big breakthrough.
Safest Option: Sepp Straka ($7,300 DraftKings | $8,800 FanDuel)
Straka will enter this week having made the cut in five consecutive events and in 13 of his past 17 starts. He’s shown a touch of upside with his T-9 in Puntacana and his T-5 in Houston but anything in the top 40 will do for Straka at this price.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Scott Stallings ($7,500 DraftKings | $9,000 FanDuel)
Stallings made noise last week and even posted his name on the first page of the leader board over the weekend. He would eventually finish T-43, and I’m really worried about his sustainability. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, he gained 4.31 strokes/putting last week, his third-best putting performance since 2015. The week before, he gained 4.15 at the Valspar. That means Stallings has had basically two of his best putting performances of his career in the past two weeks. That’s a recipe for regression.
Pick To Win: John Catlin ($7,200 DraftKings | $9,100 FanDuel)
The American resides on the European Tour where he continues to thrive. He has three wins across the pond in his past 15 starts, including just a few weeks ago at the Austrian Golf Open. His most recent start, a fifth-place finish at the Tenerife Open, moved his Official World Golf Rankings inside the top 80.
$6,900 and below
High Upside: Will Gordon ($6,800 DraftKings | $8,000 FanDuel)
TPC Craig Ranch will seemingly benefit the longer hitter, which is certainly a way to describe Gordon. He ranks 5th on tour in Driving Distance and 36th in SG/off the tee. His issue is direction—ranking 181st in Driving Accuracy. The good news for Gordon is that this course should offer plenty of room for error off the tee.
Safest Option: Josh Teater ($6,600 DraftKings | $7,400 FanDuel)
Teater has been splitting his time between the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour, making seven consecutive cuts across both circuits. He hasn’t missed the weekend in the 2021 calendar year and is coming off his best finish (T-22) in his last start.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Satoshi Kodaira ($6,500 DraftKings |$7,800 FanDuel)
Many will look at Kodaira’s T-11 last week as a reason to play him in Texas. I’d like to point out he gained 6.49 strokes/putting last week, the best performance of his career. That is unsustainable and out of character for Kodaira, who has lost strokes on the greens in 63 percent of his measured events during his career.
Pick To Win: K.H. Lee ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,700 FanDuel)
Lee is starting to put his game together, making the weekend in five consecutive starts. He has been gaining strokes off the tee and on approach while giving them all back on the putting surface. If he can find a hot putter for four days, the rest of his game is strong enough to contend.
Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.