AT&T Byron Nelson picks 2022: Justin Thomas is as 'due' as 'due' gets
At this point, there is not much left to say. Yet another close-call finish for one of our experts last week at the Wells Fargo (Christopher Powers picked Cameron Young as his outright selection). The week before that, two experts (Powers and Stephen Hennessey) had Cameron Champ in Mexico. The week before that, Pat Mayo, Brandon Gdula and Lee Alldrick had Sam Burns and Billy Horschel, the runner-up squad at Zurich. The week before that, our anonymous caddie had Patrick Cantlay at RBC Heritage, where he lost to Jordan Spieth in a playoff.
Such is life in the outright betting game, where racking up the runner-ups doesn’t line your pockets. All it takes it one outright hit to erase weeks of bad memories though, and our expert panel is confident that that outright hit is coming soon. Two of us are on Justin Thomas at the AT&T Byron Nelson, two others on Will Zalatoris and two others on Dustin Johnson, so it’s safe to say we’d love if the winner came from one of that trio.
Our panel consists of an anonymous caddie; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports and your two authors. This week, DraftKings betting analyst Reid Fowler (an OG member of this panel when it launched in 2018) is filling in for Pat Mayo, who is enjoying a much-deserved vacation. We’d like to think you’re reading one of the best collections of golf handicappers in the industry. If we hit a winner this week, we know you’ll agree.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson.
AT&T Byron Nelson picks 2022: Our experts' outright selections
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Dustin Johnson (22-1, BetMGM) — Nope, I’m not concerned about a wedding/honeymoon hangover. Word is that his honeymoon might’ve occurred at a golf destination. DJ’s length and accuracy off the tee will put him in prime position to make the boat load of birdies that it will take to win this week. And I actually think the time off since Hilton Head will leave him refreshed to battle the Texas heat and get back in the winner’s circle.
Reid Fowler, DraftKings analyst: Justin Thomas (9-1, DraftKings) — I know all you hipsters want to take your longshots this week, but with seven of the top 15 in the field, I'll side with the best ball-striker over the last dozen rounds. It's been over a year since Thomas has won—too long for a golfer of his caliber. Anybody would love to go into a major with a win, which is precisely what Thomas needs. Few are hitting their irons purer, and he seems to have found something with the flat stick, gaining in three of his previous four measured events. We've seen him win birdie-fests and shoot course-record scores (59, 2017 Sony Open) on easy courses; don't be surprised if it happens again this week.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Justin Thomas (13-1, FanDuel) — If last year is any indication, then we need golfers who can go low. Not only that, but putting here is pretty easy, via datagolf. That suits Thomas extremely well. Statistically, his spike weeks tee-to-green are unmatched by anyone else in the field, and that’s a great recipe for a win. His odds are drifting too much due to the focus on Scheffler, as well.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Will Zalatoris (22-1, BetMGM) — Zalatoris has been knocking on the door, with three straight top-six finishes and five such finishes in his last eight starts. With only one year’s worth of data for TPC Craig Ranch, it appears to be a ball-striker’s paradise. That’s great news for Zalatoris who is the second-best approach player in this field over the last 50 rounds, per the RickRunGood.com golf database.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Will Zalatoris (22-1, BetMGM) — I’m a sucker for the hometown narrative plus this being a huge week for ball-strikers and long approaches. Willy Z lost more than four strokes putting here last year … if that nets out to a zero, we should be very live.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Cameron Champ (65-1, DraftKings) — Admittedly a bold play here, but Champ is hot and that’s the time you have to strike on the two-time tour winner. Yes, it’s a strong field, but Champ has a sneaky solid record in the majors so it’s not like he’s afraid of a few big names. He’s coming off a 10th at the Masters and then a sixth in Mexico, where he was in contention all week but a disastrous triple bogey on Sunday ended his chances at a third win.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Dustin Johnson (22-1, BetMGM) — DJ comes into this event ranked second in the field for SG/total over the last two years and 15th for SG/total over the last two months. Due to his excellent approach play on longer courses and excellent putting on Bentgrass greens, DJ ranks second in the FanShareSports Course Suitability Ranking this week.
Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. We’re already off to a hot start in the new season, too, with Christopher Powers nailing Scottie Scheffler’s win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at 29-1 and then backing it up with Joaquin Niemann at 60-1 to win at Riviera. A few weeks earlier, Pat Mayo correctly predicted Luke List’s victory at Torrey Pines at 70-1. Rick Gehman also hit Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship in the fall, as well as Viktor Hovland (19-1) at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Brandon Gdula also hit on Hovland at Mayakoba, and Stephen Hennessey cashed on Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," (above) 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!
AT&T Byron Nelson picks 2022: Sleepers/Dark Horses
Caddie: Aaron Wise (55-1, DraftKings) — Coming off a 21st and a 6th, Wise’s game is trending in the right direction. He’s proven he can win in this city (when the event was at Trinity Forest), and if his putter can act right, he can be there Sunday afternoon.
Fowler: Matthew Wolff (130-1, DraftKings) — One week isn't a predictor of future outcomes, but it just might be in this case. This season, Wolff has been objectively bad but finished inside the top 25 last week and was sixth heading into the final round. He's not entirely back, but if we're heading to a course that's forgiving off the tee where you need a lot of birdies, it could be a place he can just let go, have fun and not care about winning - but win for our sake. Over the last 12 rounds on easy courses, he ranks third in birdie-or-better gained.
Gdula: Tom Hoge (100-1, FanDuel) — Hoge ranks in the 89th percentile in adjusted ball-striking over the past year in my database, and that should lead to birdie chances. At 100-1, those are some pretty stellar odds. He also outpaces that number in my simulation model, so let’s ride.
Gehman: Patton Kizzire (100-1, DraftKings) — It’ll take a ceiling week for Kizzire to actually hoist a trophy, but he’s showing signs of being capable of tapping into that ceiling. He’s gained strokes on approach in six of his last sevens starts and has gained multiple strokes with his putter in two of his last four. If he can put those two things together at the same time, he could make some noise at TPC Craig Ranch – like he did in his T-3 last season.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Keith Mitchell (80-1, BetMGM) — I will also definitely be betting Mav McNealy, mostly because I’m pot committed from all the $$$ I’ve burned on him. In addition to Mav, I think Mitchell is a great bet here. Kudos to Pat and DB of the Tour Junkies for talking me into this one. Mitchell is first in SG/off the tee over the past 36 rounds, per Fantasy National, and should be able to capitalize on these par 5s. Though he MCd at Wells Fargo, his irons stayed hot (he gained two strokes on approach). This could be a great course for Mitchell.
Powers, Golf Digest: Matthew Wolff (130-1, DraftKings) — I know it’s only one start, but Wolff finally showed some life at Wells Fargo, gaining strokes in every major area. Does that mean he’s ready to jump back in the winner’s circle immediately? Probably not, but it’s worth a shot at this number.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Ian Poulter (160-1, FanDuel) — Poulter’s solid off-the-tee game means he comes into this event ranked 25th in the FanShareSports Course Suitability ranking this week. His form is also decent this week having finished top 42 in five of his last six events. The Englishman is an excellent putter on Bentgrass greens, ranking sixth in the field this week for SG/putting on Bentgrass greens over the last two years.
AT&T Byron Nelson picks 2022: Players we're fading
Caddie: Scottie Scheffler (7-1, DraftKings) — He may still be on a Masters’ hangover. The odds are just too short for my liking.
Fowler: Will Zalatoris (14-1, DraftKings) — This pick is not an indictment on the player but the position. I cannot reasonably argue that I'd take him at this number over someone like Brooks Koepka or Hideki Matsuyama at more than double Z’s number. Willy Z is playing better than the aforementioned golfers, but I'm not sure he's twice as likely to win over a couple of major champs. He's also shorter than Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Sam Burns; golfers I'd take at their numbers over Zalatoris this week. Don't get me wrong, Zalatoris is hitting the ball exceptionally well, but I'd rather get him next week at 3.5x his number here, even if it's in a stronger field in tougher conditions. I'll be okay fading Zalatoris and him winning at this number.
Gdula: Xander Schauffele (21-1, FanDuel) — Xander has been vocal about not liking birdie-fests, and he’ll need to go low to contend. I think there are just better fits this week.
Gehman: Tommy Fleetwood (40-1, DraftKings) — Looking at the raw box scores, Fleetwood’s recent run has been impressive. He’s earned five top-25 finishes in his last seven starts. I’m more concerned with how he’s been posting those results. Over his last six measured events, he’s gained a total of 35.33 strokes to the field with 90.4 percent coming from the two short-game categories. That’s generally unsustainable and raises a red flag on a course that should demand high-end ball-striking.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Scottie Scheffler (7-1, DraftKings) — I’m willing to be beat by Scottie winning a fifth time in seven stroke-play starts. His mind has to be set on next week at Southern Hills.
Powers, Golf Digest: Jordan Spieth (22-1, DraftKings) — Yes, he was great at Harbour Town, and he always plays well in Texas. But this is no more than a tune-up for Spieth as he goes for the career grand slam yet again next week.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Hideki Matsuyama (25-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Matsuyama has not played since the Masters so he’ll be coming in somewhat rusty. He is also statistically the third-worst putter in the field on Bentgrass greens over the last two years, losing 0.6 shots per round to the field on the short stuff.
AT&T Byron Nelson picks 2022: Matchups
Caddie: Patton Kizzire (-110) over Kevin Kisner (DraftKings) — Kizzire has performed consistently all year. He also has a distinct length advantage over Kisner that will prove beneficial at TPC Craig Ranch, evidenced by his third-place finish here last year.
Fowler: Talor Gooch (-120) over Jason Kokrak (DraftKings) — I like Gooch to potentially win this week, which also means his matchup over Kokrak is appealing. Kokrak is playing relatively well, but Gooch is playing much better than him on easy courses. Over the previous dozen rounds, ranking 12th in strokes-gained - 74 spots better than Kokrak. Gooch has impressive finishes, including a win, in low-scoring events.
Gdula: Jhonattan Vegas (-105) over Jason Day (FOX Bet) — Vegas is red hot with the irons right now, and Day has to overcome a meltdown from this past week. Vegas holds a huge ball-striking advantage, too.
Gehman: Joaquin Niemann (-120) over Adam Scott (DraftKings) — Niemann’s advanced metrics this year have been nothing short of splendid. He’s sneaky long off the tee and possesses the ability to flush his long irons. He’s not even putting as well as he did last year and he’s found plenty of success. I love the way he sets up for TPC Craig Ranch.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Aaron Wise (-130) over Mackenzie Hughes (DraftKings) — A lot of juice but this course suits Wise great, and I don’t think that’s the case with Hughes.
Powers, Golf Digest: Justin Thomas (+105) over Scottie Scheffler* (DraftKings) — I can never resist a player of Justin Thomas' caliber at plus money against anyone else, including Scottie Scheffler, who hasn't made an individual start since putting on the green jacket. (*replaced for Brooks Koepka over Marc Leishman after Koepka's WD).
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Adam Hadwin (-125) over Davis Riley (Betfair) — I’m high on Hadwin this week, which I’ll explain in the top-10 section below. Riley on the other hand ranks just 130th in the field this week for SG/putting on bentgrass greens over the past two years. He has also missed two of his last five cuts.
Matchup Results from the Wells Fargo Championship: Caddie: 1 for 1 (McCarthy (+100) over Long); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Garcia (-120) over Reed); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Hatton (-102) over Ancer); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Vegas (+100) over Simpson); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Kuchar (-125) over Rai); Hennessey: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 20-4-4 (up 15.28 units); Caddie: 16-10-2 (up 5.19 units); Powers: 14-11-3 (up 2.71 units); Alldrick: 16-11-1 (up 2.7 units); Gehman: 11-13-4 (down 2.82 units); Gdula: 13-15-0 (down 2.84 units); Hennessey: 12-15-1 (down 6.33 units)
AT&T Byron Nelson picks 2022: Top 10s
Caddie: Sam Burns (+250, DraftKings) — It’s the perfect course for him: He drives the ball so well and makes a ton of birdies. People will remember he very nearly won here last year. Plus, he’ll be well-rested having not played since the Masters.
Fowler: Seamus Power (+330, DraftKings) — Power hasn't been playing his best golf recently, but don't be surprised if he gains some confidence this week on a much easier course than what he's faced over the last handful of weeks. Seamus was playing well earlier this year, finishing 15th (Sentry TOC), third (Sony Open), 14th (The American Express) and ninth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he led at the halfway mark, shooting back-to-back 64s. Power ranks ninth in birdies-or-better gained and sixth in par-5 scoring over the previous 12 rounds on easy scoring courses relative to par.
Gdula: Hideki Matsuyama (+300, FanDuel) — A ball-striking course with birdies is great for Hideki, who had great tee-to-green numbers at Augusta. He should be healthy and ready to prep for the PGA with a strong showing at TPC Craig Ranch.
Gehman: Kurt Kitayama (+1100, DraftKings) — Kitayama is proving that he belongs on this tour and the results keep piling up. He finished third at the Honda Classic, T-2 at the Mexico Open then finished T-15 last week in Maryland. That most recent start might be his most impressive, gaining over 10 strokes from tee-to-green – the best week of his career in that department.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jhonattan Vegas (+500, DraftKings) — The former Texas Longhorn is top 10 in this field in birdie-or-better gained over the past 36 rounds, per Fantasy National, and had a top 10 here last year. Plus, he’s coming off a staggering performance with his irons at the Wells Fargo, where he gained more than 10 strokes on approach … keeping up a hot stretch.
Powers, Golf Digest: Sahith Theegala (+1100, DraftKings) — The disrespect! After a rough little stretch, Theegala recaptured some form in Mexico, gaining over four strokes tee-to-green and 2.6 on approach. That makes him a very popular longshot play this week.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Adam Hadwin (+600, FanDuel) — Hadwin comes into this event ranked first in the field for SG/total over the last two months and third for Opportunities Gained. His form is so good that he has recorded top-36 finishes in seven of his past nine events, which includes three top 10s in his past four starts.
Top-10 results from the Wells Fargo Championship: Everybody: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Powers: 10 for 28 (up 32.05 units); Alldrick: 9 for 28 (up 31.8 units); Mayo: 4 for 28 (down 0.45 units); Gehman: 5 for 28 (down 1.8 units); Caddie: 7 for 28 (down 7.6 units); Hennessey: 5 for 28 (down 8.78 units); Gdula: 1 for 28 (down 24.6 units)
AT&T Byron Nelson picks 2022: One and Done
Gehman: Justin Thomas — Thomas hasn’t won yet in 2022, but it’s been nine years since he’s gone a calendar year without a victory. Despite zero trophies, he’s earned five top 10s in nine starts and he’s (by far) the best approach player in the field over the last 50 rounds. It’s just a matter of time before he adds another victory to his resume and this seems like a big opportunity.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Kevin Na; Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Louis Oosthuizen. Zozo Championship: Hideki Matsuyama. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Abraham Ancer. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Scottie Scheffler. Sentry TOC: Sungjae Im. Sony Open: Corey Conners. American Express: Talor Gooch. Farmers Insurance Open: Tony Finau. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Daniel Berger. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Viktor Hovland. Genesis Invitational: Xander Schauffele. Honda Classic: Billy Horschel. Arnold Palmer Invitational: Rory McIlroy. Players Championship: Jon Rahm. Valspar Championship: Dustin Johnson. Valero Texas Open: Charley Hoffman. The Masters: Brooks Koepka. RBC Heritage: Patrick Cantlay. Mexico Open: Aaron Wise. Wells Fargo: Matt Fitzpatrick.
Hennessey: Jhonattan Vegas — I’ve burned my two favorite plays, Willy Z and JT, in this spot. I’d also consider Aaron Wise. But I think Jhonny Vegas is pretty safe. He gained more than 10 strokes on approach last week … and lost off the tee, which is a rarity for him. This is a much better setup for him bombing the ball all over.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo; Sanderson Farms Championship: Carlos Ortiz. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Collin Morikawa. Zozo Championship: Takumi Kanaya. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Aaron Wise. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Marc Leishman. American Express: Sungjae Im. Farmers Insurance Open: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Lanto Griffin. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Viktor Hovland. Genesis Invitational: Will Zalatoris. Honda Classic: Russell Knox. Arnold Palmer Invitational: Keith Mitchell. Players Championship: Cameron Smith. Valspar Championship: Shane Lowry. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Justin Thomas. RBC Heritage: Russell Henley. Mexico Open: Gary Woodland. Wells Fargo: Troy Merritt.
Powers: Sahith Theegala — Not only will I be playing him top 10, but I’ve bet Theegala outright as well this week. Good spot for a maiden win while all the bigger names utilize this week as a warmup for Southern Hills.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Brendan Steele. Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Aaron Wise. CJ Cup: Talor Gooch. Zozo Championship: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda Championship: Patrick Rodgers. Mayakoba: Jhonattan Vegas. Houston Open: Marc Leishman. RSM Classic: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Daniel Berger. Sony Open: Kevin Na. American Express: Seamus Power. Farmers Insurance Open: Luke List. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Cameron Tringale. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Bubba Watson. Genesis Invitational: Adam Scott. Honda Classic: Billy Horschel. Arnold Palmer Invitational: Chris Kirk. Players Championship: Xander Schauffele. Valspar Championship: Sam Burns. Valero Texas Open: Charley Hoffman. The Masters: Brooks Koepka. RBC Heritage: Matt Fitzpatrick. Mexico Open: Abraham Ancer. Wells Fargo: Keegan Bradley.
About our experts
Reid Fowler is a DraftKings betting analyst and appears nightly on sports betting programs on MSG and SNY in the New York TV market.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. 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.