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AT&T Byron Nelson 2021 picks: It’s Will Zalatoris or bust at TPC Craig Ranch

Kevin C. Cox

There is nothing more dangerous than a consensus bet. There’s also nothing as rewarding as a consensus bet that hits. Ultimately, you have to decide which side of history you want to be on. The negative, “I called the missed cut!” side, or the positive vibes only, full team celebration side. Personally, we prefer the latter.

Those that prefer the former, though, might be fading Will Zalatoris, who four of our seven experts are on this week at the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch. Zalatoris, coming off a missed cut at Quail Hollow, should feel at home in McKinney, Texas, playing on a course he says he and Scottie Scheffler have played for half their lives. You’ve got the home-game angle, you’ve got the breakthrough victory angle, and you’ve got some decent odds, with Zalatoris at 28-1 at the William Hill Sportsbook. What else do you need?

But hey, it’s your call. All we can do is attempt to steer you in the right direction, something our experts have done a damn good job of in this 2020-’21 Super Season. Fade us at your own risk, and don’t be mad if you’re on the wrong side of history.

Read on to see who we like this week at the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson.

AT&T Byron Nelson 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions (Odds from William Hill)

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Daniel Berger (16-1, boosted up to 18-1 at William Hill) — I’ve walked TPC Craig Ranch the past few days … there’s not much trouble for the bombers to find off the tee. Let’s face it: There are 30-50 players out here who hit driver so good, they’ll all have a chance. This will be a second-shot fest. These are some big greens, so you’ll be putting over some undulations if you don’t hit it close on some holes. I was close to picking Spieth, but his off-the-tee numbers—even when he won at Valero—weren’t great. Rahm looked shaky in his last start, and I like him on tougher courses anyway. Berger is the next guy. This is a nice number for him, and heck, he won Colonial last June—I think his elite tee-to-green game in Texas is worth the bet.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Will Zalatoris (28-1) — Hopefully the missed cut at Quail Hollow refreshed his game because, on paper, TPC Craig Ranch looks perfect for the Texan. He’s got the required length and birdie rate to compete and is one of a handful of players in the field to rank inside the top 25 in the proximity range from 175-200 and 200-plus yards this week.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Will Zalatoris (28-1) — Scottie Scheffler shifted too much due to the DJ WD, so I’ll just take the better odds on Zalatoris, who is a big hitter and makes birdies. I think that’s the recipe this week at the unknown TPC Craig Ranch. The small-sample bentgrass putting splits are concerning for Big Z, but he’s valued properly and comes with a pretty nice number.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Scottie Scheffler (18-1) — The metrics around Scheffler’s recent play have been nothing short of outstanding. Over the past 24 rounds on tour only Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau have gained more strokes per round than Scheffler. In that same stretch, he’s made birdie (or better) on 25.3-percent of his holes played, the fourth-best mark in this field, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. There’s no better place for Scheffler to get his first PGA Tour win than in his home state of Texas.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Will Zalatoris (28-1) — It is tough to see this number and pass it up. In his press conference today, Zalatoris said he has played TPC Craig Ranch a ton growing up nearby. I bet this on Monday, but that sealed the deal for me. This appears to be a birdie-fest, similar to Zalatoris’ Korn Ferry days, where he dominated. An easy bet, and I’m pumped to see the consensus here.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Will Zalatoris (28-1) — Funny story, I thought I was going to be all alone on Willy Z coming off his missed cut at Quail Hollow. That clearly is not the case, at least in this column. Hey, I’m always happy to be on the same guy as Mayo and Gdula, two of the actual experts here. Hennessey, not so much. Don’t have much else to add. Go Willy Z, go!

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jordan Spieth (10-1) — Spieth comes into this event ranked second in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking, due to results on similar courses. Another reason? His putting on bentgrass greens. He ranks second in the field for SG/putting on bentgrass. His form is also excellent, as he ranks second in the field for SG/tee to green over the past two months.

Results from last season: Golf Digest's betting panel is RED-HOT. Our experts have now predicted five of the past 13 winners—after going up 225.30 units last season. As we’ve said, our crew gets hot and tends to stay hot, so don’t miss out on our picks! Our Stephen Hennessey predicted Jordan Spieth (11-1) at the Valero Texas Open. At The Players, Christopher Powers and Rick Gehman called Justin Thomas’ victory (18-1). That’s each of their second accurate predictions of 2021, with Powers hitting Koepka (50-1) and Gehman calling Daniel Berger at Pebble Beach (14-1). Pat Mayo nailed Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Workday three events ago at 33-1 in addition to Koepka at the WMPO. And Brandon Gdula also called Berger’s win at Pebble Beach. We’ll stop there! Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!

AT&T Byron Nelson 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (Odds from William Hill)

Caddie: Sergio Garcia (40-1) — Sergio’s stats all around have been great, and I think he’ll really be looking to enter next week on a high note. He plays great in Texas, so I think he’s worth the look.

Mayo: Doug Ghim (60-1) — We’re getting into Ben An/Luke List territory with the Ghim Reaper. The ball-striking is amazin; he just needs to make some putts. Fortunately, three of his four best career putting performances have come on bentgrass greens.

Gdula: Talor Gooch (70-1) — Gooch has a pretty great all-around game, which makes him fit just about any course. He’s a plus in driving distance and bentgrass putting. The Oklahoman has two top-five finishes at the Houston Open, so maybe that Texas angle helps this week.

Gehman: John Catlin (125-1) — It’s easy to overlook Catlin, an American playing on the European Tour, but he’s no stranger to the winner’s circle. Catlin has won three times in his past 15 starts on the European Tour and moved to 78th in the world rankings. This will be his first start on the PGA Tour since the 2019 John Deere Classic (MC), but he’s hoisted four trophies in four countries since then.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Luke List (66-1) — I know, this feels like a very short number on Luke List. But the guy is playing some great golf. He’s coming off a T-5 at Quail Hollow, thanks to his elite off-the-tee game (gaining 7.1 strokes/tee to green), and that’s not an anomaly for him. List is 11th in this field in SG/off the tee and sixth in driving distance, which seems like it will be important this week. He’s actually fourth in my model this week for scoring well on par 4s from 450-500 yards (15th in the past 24 rounds) and on par 5s between 500-550 yards (ranks sixth). It seems like a popular pick in this range this week is Keith Mitchell, and rightfully so, but don’t forget about List.

Powers, Golf Digest: Cameron Champ (70-1) — SG/off the tee will be key this week, and other than Bryson, nobody pops in that category harder than Cam Champ. Per Fantasy National, Champ has gained strokes off the tee in 22 consecutive measured starts, so we know his driver will show up. As for the irons and the putter, those have both improved of late, which could lead to a ton of birdies at TPC Craig Ranch. Champ has three pro victories, two on the PGA Tour and one on the KFT, and all three have been birdie-fests with a total of 17 under or better.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Tom Hoge (125-1) — Hoge comes into this event ranked first for Fantasy National’s Opportunities Gained stat over the past two months and 11th for SG/tee to green over the past two months. He doesn't have enough results on similar courses in order to garner a course-suitability ranking this week, but when you're playing as well as Hoge is right now, you're going to play well on any course.

AT&T Byron Nelson 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)

Caddie: Jon Rahm (8-1) — Like I said in my win write-up, Rahm looked a little erratic at Quail Hollow. The ball-striking numbers were OK, but with these low of odds, you could make an argument for a bunch of these other guys lower and have better value.

Mayo: Sam Burns (33-1) — Nothing against Sam Burns ... I mean, he did just win, but this number is a tad too tiny with the elite players at the top of the betting market.

Gdula: Marc Leishman (33-1) — Leishman isn’t long off the tee, he’s not really a birdie-maker over the larger sample, and he’s better on Bermuda than bentgrass greens.

Gehman: Hideki Matsuyama (20-1) — Matsuyama is making his first start since donning the green jacket at Augusta National in April. It’s difficult to make your first start after any victory, but the magnitude of Matsuyama’s win combined with the amount of celebration that came after—it wouldn’t take much assuming that his preparation for this week wasn’t normal. That victory remains his only top-10 finish in his last 12 starts, so I’ll be proceeding with caution this week.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Brooks Koepka (22-1) — With the recent knee procedure and watching him hobble around Augusta, this feels like a spot for Koepka to just get his game and his physical tournament shape back. I’d rather bet Willy Z and Scheffler in this range.

Powers, Golf Digest: Brooks Koepka (22-1) — Last week, I faded Rory, so, ipso facto, bet on Brooks. But all kidding aside, I think Brooksy’s just getting some reps this week in preparation for Kiawah. If he goes off and wins, I’m going to have to start fading myself in this space.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Hideki Matsuyama (20-1) — Not only does Matsuyama lose shots to the field when putting on bentgrass greens, but he will have the hype of having won the Masters last time out. That takes its toll on a player’s performance.

AT&T Byron Nelson 2021 picks: Matchups

Caddie: Keith Mitchell (+100) over Jason Day (William Hill) — Mitchell is coming off two straight weeks of great golf—and he just has that look in his eye that screams: Belief. He believes in himself right now, whereas Jason Day—the best part of his game, his putter, has abandoned him lately. It’ll come back, but in this spot, Mitchell is a safe bet to beat Day, I’d think.

Mayo: Thomas Pieters (-114) over Alex Noren (DraftKings) — Euro on Euro action here. The layout of this course favors distance over the grinder/scrambler types, so the Belgian bomber it is.

Gdula: Scottie Scheffler (-112) over Matt Fitzpatrick (FanDuel) — Scheffler has the Texas narrative and the distance advantage on Fitzpatrick. Assuming this week goes low, that favors Scheffler over Fitzpatrick pretty easily.

Gehman: Sam Burns (-114) over Harris English (DraftKings) — Burns is fresh off his victory at the Valspar Championship and couldn’t be heading to a better course. TPC Craig Ranch will allow Burns to take advantage of his distance off the tee and his precision with his approaches.

Hennessey: Jordan Spieth (-125) over Hideki Matsuyama— Someone mentioned a stat (it might’ve been Andy Lack, our guest on Golf Digest’s “Be Right” podcast this week, that Spieth’s record before a major are really good. Obviously he won the Texas Open before the Masters, so recently that’s true. I think he’ll play well at TPC Craig Ranch, even though he doesn’t have a good tourney history … I don’t make much of that being at a new course. And I’m fading Hideki after this long media tour he did. He’ll rightfully just be getting back into the swing of things this week.

Powers: Ryan Palmer (+105) over Brooks Koepka (DraftKings) — I think Koepka misses the cut, probably on the number, and then heads straight to Kiawah with some solid reps under his belt. Ryan Palmer, meanwhile, will be fired up for TPC Craig Ranch, where he owns the course record.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Matt Fitzpatrick (-125) over Hideki Matsuyama (Bet365) — As you can see above, I don't fancy Matsuyama's chances this week. On the other hand I do like Fitzpatrick’s chances. He comes in ranked 17th for SG/tee-to-green over the last two months and 31st in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking.

Matchup results from the Wells Fargo: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Bubba Watson (-114) over Shane Lowry); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Joaquin Niemann (-118) over Sungjae Im); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Matt Wallace (-118) over Rickie Fowler); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Bryson DeChambeau (-120) over Xander Schauffele); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Cameron Tringale (-125) over Max Homa. Mayo, Powers: 0 for 1.

Matchup Results this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Alldrick: 18-11-1 (up 5.43 units); Hennessey: 16-11-1 (up 4.55 units); Gdula: 16-13-1 (up 1.94 units); Powers: 12-14-4 (down 2.76 units); Mayo: 13-15-1 (down 3.02 units); Gehman: 11-17-2 (down 5.67 units); Caddie: 10-17-3 (down 6.58 units).

AT&T Byron Nelson 2021 picks: Top 10 (Odds from William Hill)

Caddie: Scottie Scheffler (+188) — Scottie has been one of the best golfers in the world, and he gets to tee it up at a venue that not only suits his game, but he’s played it a bunch. He should contend and a top-10 bet is a good one.

Mayo: Wyndham Clark (+1000) — The irons are always dicey, but Clark has prodigious distance off the tee and generally is one of the better putters each week. With four gettable par 5s and two short par 4s, Clark’s length off the tee should make those six holes legit scoring opportunities.

Gdula: Sebastian Munoz (+800) — Munoz went to college at North Texas and finished ninth at the Valero last month. He’s coming off two missed cuts, one on the number and one from poor wedge play. He can rack up birdies when he’s on, and that should come in handy this week.

Gehman: Matt Fitzpatrick (+188) — Fitzpatrick won the DP World Tour Championship on the European Tour at the end of 2020 and has been on a roll ever since. He’s earned six top-20 finishes in his past seven starts, and his metrics are even more staggering. Since the start of 2021, only Jordan Spieth has gained more strokes per round on average than Fitzpatrick.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Ryan Palmer (+333) — No offense to Palmer, but betting him outright can get expensive. But I’m buying into him having a great week this week—holding the course record here and being a Texas guy. This should have a good chance of cashing.

Powers, Golf Digest: Jordan Spieth (+100) — Weak? Yes. Profitable? Most likely. Spieth has historically played some of his best golf the week before a major, not to mention the home-game angle. He’s finished 15th or better in six of his last seven starts on tour, so this feels like a nice safe play.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jason Day (+400) — Day has been playing great golf tee to green recently, but his putting has let him down. A return to bentgrass greens this week could make all the difference. He will enjoy the course, ranking 16th in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking and sixth for SG/tee-to-green over the past two months.

Top-10 results from the Wells Fargo: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Matt Wallace, +700); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Rory McIlroy (+210); Everyone else: 0 for 1.

Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 7 for 27 (up 14.85 units); Hennessey: 4 for 27 (down 4 units); Powers: 3 for 27 (down 6.5 units); Gdula: 3 for 27 (down 8.5 units); Mayo: 2 for 27 (down 12 units); Tour caddie: 4 for 27 (down 11.35 units); Alldrick: 1 for 26 (down 20.5 units).

AT&T Byron Nelson 2021 picks: One and Done

Gehman: Sam Burns — Fresh off his victory at the Valspar Championship, Burns has had a week to reset and prepare for the task at hand at TPC Craig Ranch. This is a course that should really play into the hands of Burns who is one of the longest players on tour (20th in driving distance) and also gets dialed in with his irons (17th on SG/approach). That combination of skill-sets could be the key to unlocking success at this course.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin. Masters: Rory McIlroy. RSM: Webb Simpson. Sentry TOC: Patrick Reed. Sony: Abraham Ancer. AMEX: Patrick Cantlay. Torrey: Jon Rahm. Waste Management: Webb Simpson. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis Invitational: Rory McIlroy. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Bryson DeChambeau; Honda Classic: Sungjae Im. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Jordan Spieth. The Masters: Dustin Johnson.

RBC Heritage: Daniel Berger. Valspar: Paul Casey. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland.

Hennessey: Will Zalatoris — Don’t be scared off by the missed cut at Quail Hollow. Previous to that, the kid has been a cut-making machine. I think this is a good week to burn him in OAD formats.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Doc Redman. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton. RSM: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Justin Thomas. Sony: Ryan Palmer. AMEX: Scottie Scheffler. Torrey: Sungjae Im. Waste Management: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach: Francesco Molinari. Genesis Invitational: Tony Finau. WGC-Workday: Xander Schauffele. The Players: Jordan Spieth. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Webb Simpson. Valspar: Charley Hoffman. Wells Fargo: Max Homa.

Powers: Will Zalatoris — My OADs have been a disaster of late. Willy Z, on a course he’s played for half his life, should be just what I need to flip the script.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Bubba Watson. RSM: Brian Harman. Mayakoba: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Harris English. Sony: Zach Johnson. AMEX: Matthew Wolff. Torrey: Tony Finau. Waste Management: Sungjae Im. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis: Hideki Matsuyama. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Tommy Fleetwood. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Matt Fitzpatrick. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Kevin Kisner. Valspar: Patrick Reed. Wells Fargo: Patrick Cantlay.

By The Numbers:

Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:

$2,000 — The first place prize, won by Byron Nelson, in the first-ever edition of this event. (The 1944 Texas Victory Open)

+0.72 — The average strokes gained on approach per round by Si Woo Kim and Marc Leishman since the start of 2021, second to only Jordan Spieth.

111 — The number of starts for Bryson DeChambeau since the last event that he played the par 5s at even par or worse, like he did last week at Quail Hollow. (Made cut events only)

12.72 — The combined number of strokes lost putting by Jason Day over his last 11 rounds.

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.

Rick Gehman is the 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.

Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.