Out of the Rough: AT&T Byron Nelson (2023)
Updated: May 9
With the second major of the season just a week away, the PGA Tour makes a stop in McKinney, Texas for the AT&T Byron Nelson.
As the Tour rolls into its second major of the season next week, we’ll see a weakened field this week as the event serves as much of a natural bye week, especially with an elevated event in the Wells Fargo Championship just a week ago.
We will still see some big names tee it up this week however.
This event is the namesake of legendary five-time major champion and winner of the inaugural Texas Victory Open - now the AT&T Byron Nelson.
The event used the name Texas Victory Open from 1944 to 1968 when it was renamed the Byron Nelson Golf Classic. The tournament has been associated with Nelson’s name ever since.
The AT&T Byron Nelson had played within the limits of Dallas County for all of its existence but until 2021 when it was moved to TPC Craig Ranch. This will be the third year that TPC Craig Ranch hosts this event and will be the host until 2025.
TPC Craig Ranch also sits less than 15 minutes away from the site of the future headquarters of the PGA in Frisco, Texas.
TPC Craig Ranch plays as a par 72 at just shy of 7,500 yards.
The course was funded by McKinney businessman, David Craig, who spent $30 million in 2024 to develop a golf course that one day would host the Byron Nelson tournament. Along the way, PGA legend Tom Weiskopf was the one who designed the track.
TPC Craig Ranch is one of the easiest courses on all of the PGA Tour. The last two seasons held at TPC Craig Ranch were won by K.H. Lee at -25 and -26, to put into perspective the ease of this course.
Rowlett Creek serves as one of the only defenses that this course offers as it is intertwined with 14 holes on the course. Although, water doesn’t have much of an impact this week unless drives get away from golfers.
Along with Rowlett Creek, the course's main line of defense is the wind and if it is blowing, the importance of accuracy increases.
The 17th hole here at TPC Craig Ranch has been revamped and now features bleachers behind the green along with 41 hospitality units that can now host 6,000 spectators. The goal of the additions is to create a similar atmosphere to that of the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.
Distance off the tee will give those bombers a slight advantage. The average driving distance at TPC Craig Ranch over the past two years has been 228 yards, which is over the PGA Tour average.
Accuracy off the tee isn’t much of a concern as this course too boasts a 63-percent hit fairways percentage, adding to the importance of distance off the tee.
Long irons are one of the most important things however as almost 35-percent of approach shots have come from 200-plus yards.
Despite the importance of long iron play, hitting the greens isn’t much of a challenge. Greens in regulation percentage here too is over the PGA Tour average at 70-percent.
If a green is missed, golfers could be in a bit of trouble as the greens are surrounded by bunkers. Over the last two years, golfers who have finished in the top five have more than doubled the field in sand saves. This goes to show how difficult the bunkers can be around the green.
The three par fives this week play at an average of a modest 558 yards. Hole 18 plays as the longest of the par fives at 569 yards. There are plenty of scoring opportunities on the par fives this week and they must be taken advantage of.
In all, this is a relatively bland course that is set up to allow for some very low scores. The ability for multiple golfers to go very low adds to the excitement of the event.
The field this week will feature 156 golfers with the top 65 and ties making the cut.
As the event sits between an elevated event in the Wells Fargo Championship and right before the second major of the year in the PGA Championship, the field is on the weaker side as it serves as a bit of natural bye week.
The field this week is headlined by World number-two Scottie Scheffler who is joined by some other big names. Those names include Jordan Spieth, Tyrrell Hatton and Tom Kim.
K.H. Lee has won both of the previous AT&T Byron Nelson events held at TPC Craig Ranch and will look to become the first golfer to win three consecutive events in as many years since Steve Stricker won the John Deere Classic from 2009 to 2011.
Lee shot a career best final round of 63 a year ago to hold off Spieth.
An interesting bit of information here is that four of the Byron Nelson’s last nine winners have hailed from South Korea. Along with Lee, Sung Kang (2019) and Sang-moon Bae (2013) have won this event. Both of Kang and Bae will be teeing it up this week as well.
With the combination of the ease of this course and the lack of high-end talent, there are ideal conditions for a long shot to come away with a victory this week.
Rain is the theme of this week’s forecast as of the time of writing this. Precipitation percentages range from 40-percent on Thursday to 60-percent on Sunday with Friday and Saturday featuring that same 60-percent chance. Temperatures too will range from the low 80’s on Thursday before peaking at 85-degrees on Friday and gradualing falling to the high 70’s come Sunday. Winds, which of course will be a factor, are set for 15 miles-per-hour on Thursday before reducing to 11 miles-per-hour come Sunday. In all, not ideal conditions for a golf tournament and scores may reflect that. We could see some delays this week as well.
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG)
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Average Driving Distance
Approach Shots from 200+ Yards
Sand Saves Percentage
Birdie or Better Percentage
Par Five Average Scoring
Greens in Regulation Percentage
With Jordan Spieth withdrawing from the AT&T Byron Nelson there are now just two golfers in this price range and one I’m not interested in fielding. Scottie Scheffler who is the favorite by a mile and is priced at $11,900. I know why he cost that much, I’m just not interested in fielding him at that price. That leaves just Tyrrell Hatton ($10,100) that I will be playing this week. When it comes to lineup flexibility, Hatton goes a long way this week. He is currently seventh on Tour in SG: TTG, eighth in SG: APP, 26th in scrambling, 27th in SG: PUTT, 30th in bogey avoidance, 32nd in par five average scoring, 36th in birdie or better percentage, 57th in average driving distance, 80th in sand saves percentage, 104th in GIR% and 158th in approach shots from 200-plus yards. Hatton is fresh off a T3rd at the Wells Fargo Championship. He also has finishes of a second at THE PLAYERS, T4th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T6th at the WM Phoenix Open. Hatton will be making his TPC Craig Ranch debut this week. I like Hatton a lot this week. This could be the week he finally gets that second career victory.
My favorite this week is none other than Jason Day ($9,400.) I’m in on Day a lot and last week he did burn me by missing the cut, but I was in on Wyndham Clark for multiple weeks and that finally paid off for me a week ago. Day has played both previous editions of this tournament at TPC Craig Ranch without much success but again, Day has turned things around this season. He did miss the cut last week as previously mentioned but prior to that went T39 at The Masters. Prior to that, his worst finish in six other tournaments on the calendar year was T19th at THE PLAYERS. He has six top 20’s, four top tens and a top five. He’s right there and this could be the week he’s back atop the leaderboard. He is currently second on Tour in scrambling, third in bogey avoidance, 11th in SG: PUTT, 15th in SG: TTG, 20th in birdie or better percentage, 24th in GIR%, 27th in SG: APP, 28th in sand saves percentage, 63rd in average driving distance, 86th in par five average scoring and 113th in approach shots from 200-plus yards. If I play Day every week, it’ll pay off at least once, right? Also consider Tom Kim ($9,600.) Talking about golfers I play all the time, we have Kim. Kim played this event a year ago where he placed T17th. Kim is fresh off a T23rd at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship. Additionally he placed T7th at the Zurich Classic and quietly placed T16th in his debut at The Masters. His best finish of the calendar year was a T6th at The American Express. He is currently fifth on Tour in both bogey avoidance and scrambling, 11th in GIR%, 14th in SG: TTG, 15th in SG: APP, 42nd in par five average scoring, 43rd in birdie or better percentage, 58th in approach shots from 200-plus yards, 91st in sand saves percentage, 109th in average driving distance and 138th in SG: PUTT. There’s also the face that four-of-the-last-nine AT&T Byron Nelson events have been won by someone from South Korea. As I'm suggesting just one golfer in the $10,000-plus price range, I'll be adding a third golfer in this price range. That just so happens to be Matt Kuchar ($9,000.) Kuchar has played in this tournament for the past two years at TPC Craig Ranch where he placed T12th a year ago and T17th in 2021. Kuchar has been playing some great golf as of late. He is fresh off a T23rd finsh at last week's Wells Fargo Championship. He also placed T19th at the RBC Heritage and T3rd at the Valero Texas Open. He also placed eighth on the calendar year at the Genesis Invitational and T7th at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He is currently first on Tour when it comes to both sand saves percentage and scrambling. He is also sixth in bogey avoidance, 13th in par five average scoring, 23rd in SG: TTG, 40th in SG: PUTT, 64th in GIR%, 67th in SG: APP, 74th in birdie or better percentage, 138th in average driving distance and 200th in approach shots from 200-plus yards. This tournament has Kuchar written all over it.
I’m back in on Tom Hoge ($8,500) and boy does it feel good. Hoge has played in both of the AT&T Byron Nelson events held at TPC Craig Ranch where he placed T17th a year ago. The last time we saw him was at the Zurich Classic where he placed T13th. He also has results such as a T3rd at THE PLAYERS, T3rd at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T14th at the Genesis Invitational on the calendar year. He is the best on Tour when it comes to approach play as he ranks first in SG: APP. He is also eighth in birdie or better percentage, 13th in approach shots from 200-plus yards, 15th in GIR%, 26th in par five average scoring, 33rd in bogey avoidance, 34th in SG: TTG, 50th in SG: PUTT, 104th in scrambling, 105th in sand saves percentage and 136th in average driving distance. At +5000, Hoge, as usual, will receive a few dollars on my behalf. Also consider Stephan Jaeger ($8,200.) Jaeger played in this event a year ago where he placed T38th. Jaeger made the cut a week ago at the Wells Fargo Championship where he finished T27th. A week prior he went T18th at the Mexico Open at Vidanta. He is currently 13th on Tour in GIR%, 22nd in bogey avoidance, 27th in SG: TTG, 42nd in approach shots from 200-plus yards, 49th in sand saves percentage, 50th in scrambling, 59th in average driving distance, 73rd in AG: APP, 80th in par five average scoring, 85th in birdie or better percentage and 133rd in SG: PUTT. At the bottom of this price range, Jaeger is above average in all but one of the statistical categories we’re taking into consideration this week.
My favorite longshot this week, if we’re not considering Hoge at +5000 a longshot, is Eric Cole ($7,400.) Cole is at +9000 to win and a few of my dollars will be going there. He is currently 18th in scrambling, 22nd in SG: PUTT, 25th in bogey avoidance, 26th in par five average scoring, 34th in sand saves percentage, 48th in birdie or better percentage, 53rd in SG: APP, 63rd in approach shots from 200-plus yards, 81st in SG: TTG, 113rd in average driving distance and 162nd in GIR%. I really like those numbers for someone in this price range and with those at such long odds. Cole will be making his TPC Craig Ranch debut this week. Cole has had some great results on the season as well. He lost to Chris Kirk in a playoff at the Honda Classic and placed T5th at the Mexico Open. Additionally, he placed T15 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Also consider Joseph Bramlett ($7,900.) Bramlett is currently 15th on Tour in average driving distance, 20th in approach shots from 200-plus yards, 21st in GIR%, 26th in SG: TTG, 36th in SG: APP, 51st in par five average scoring, 53rd in birdie or better percentage, 68th in sand saves percentage, 70th in bogey avoidance, 114th in scrambling and 168th in SG: PUTT. He’ll need to catch a bit of a hot flat stick this week if he wants any chance of competing but if there was a week to do so, it would be this week. Bramlett has played in both installments of the AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch where he made the cut both times, placing T7th in 2021. Bramlett has been playing some good golf as of late, placing T40th a week ago at the Wells Fargo Championship. He also placed T10th at the Mexico Open at Vidanta and T26th at the Zurich Classic.
Options in this price range are limited in a field like this. Either way, my first suggestion in this price range is Kevin Roy ($6,500.) Roy was last seen at the Mexico Open at Vidanta where he placed T18th. He also will be making his TPC Craig Ranch debut. He is currently 11th on Tour in approach shots from 200-plus yards, 18th in SG: APP, 59th in SG: TTG, 73rd in par five average scoring, 77th in average driving distance, 80th in GIR%, 109th in bogey avoidance, 111th in birdie or better percentage, 143rd in scrambling, 158th in sand saves percentage and 196th in SG: PUTT. Roy is a very poor putter so he’ll need to get a few to fall this week to make the cut. Also consider Augusto Nunez ($6,700.) Nunez has actually made the cut in four consecutive events and has made the cut in nine of 11 tournaments he has played on the calendar year. His year has been highlighted by a T15th at the Puerto Rico Open. He has not played this event before. Nunez is currently second on Tour in approach shots from 200-plus yards. He is also 23rd in average driving distance, 39th in GIR%, 87th in bogey avoidance, 88th in scrambling, 90th in SG: TTG, 95th in sand saves percentage, 108th in par five average scoring, 113th in SG: APP, 167th in birdie or better percentage and 188th in SG: PUTT.
Tyrrell Hatton (+1300) - 2u
Jason Day (+2100) - 2u
Tom Kim (+2100) - 2u
Tom Hoge (+5000) - 1u
Eric Cole (+9000) - 1u