Niall Lyons struck an 80/1 winner last week at the Players Championship.
AT&T Byron Nelson
The Byron Nelson takes an exciting detour this year to the newly built Trinity Forest in Dallas Texas. This is a super decision by the tour to change to this venue designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. It is links like in its playability and with not a tree or water hazard on the course resembles the likes of Pinehurst (another tweaked design by Coore and Crenshaw) and Chambers Bay. Indeed I'll be looking to those venues when analysing the field. Quite possibly the Olympic Course in Brazil from 2016 holds plenty of similar characteristics also. Greens are very much like Pinehurst and the way in which Kaymer managed his short game around there in 2014 will be similar no doubt to this weeks contenders. Extremely long putts will test the players distance control near the flag and although nobody knows precisely how this will play out I'll be looking to those US Open / British Open setups that look similar to this. I think a players game along the ground around the greens will be key to making the requisite scores to contend.
Spieth leads the betting and looks a bit short in my view. He holed plenty of putts last Saturday at the Players but looked all at sea once again on the Sunday with the flat stick. This course should suit as he has showed form at places such as Chambers Bay and St Andrews but with the element of the unknown in there he surely can't be trusted to give you a proper run at around the 5/1 mark. As you all know, I consider Spieth the most special golfer in the world, but for betting purposes it's important to play him at the right time, win or lose. We can let this 5/1 winner sail by if it plays out that way.
It's a difficult decision who to leave off the list this week but the most certain pick of the lot is Adam Scott. Scott has gone back to the broom putter and in two starts has seen positive results. Last week was a fair improvement and finishing 11th on a track that suits is a good sign that his game is returning. He comes here in decent nick after Sawgrass and all the clues point towards Trinity Forest being another happy hunting ground for him. He plays links courses very well and the those stateside he has shown fondness for also with a top 10 at Pinehurst and Top 5 at Chambers Bay. Marry that with three wins in Texas down the years and Adam Scott must be the biggest bet of the week.
It is hard to ignore the course correlation this week as it may be our only signpost towards potential performances and although I wince at the thought of backing him at these odds, Kuchar must be on the staking plan this week. He hasn't missed a cut in over a year and showed nicely last week at Sawgrass for a top 20. He has two runner up finishes in this state but more importantly all the courses point towards him. 12th at Pinehurst, 12th at Chambers Bay, 3rd in Olympics and 2nd at Birkdale all suggest that Trinity Forest will suit the ultra consistent Kuchar. Spieth named Birkdale as a possible parallel to this weeks track and it'll take imagination like those two displayed in their duel last summer. He doesn't win often enough to get you excited about betting at this price but I feel it must be done this week
With Leishman being my third selection I'd have liked to leave one of these top 3 off the list, but can't bring myself to do that. Everything about this place spells Australians and I'm happy to have 3 Aussies in my staking plan. Leishman has all the tools to contend at this linksy layout and the world number 16 must be feared. A 3rd placed finish at this event a few years ago is enough avidence to suggest he can play well in these parts and his super links record must help. A 2nd, 5th and 6th posted at the Open Championship in the space of four years show just how versatile he is. In a very top heavy field I think the winner will come from towards the top of the market so I'm happy to include three of those in that bracket even though it's not my normal practice.
I don't think Peter Uihlein is far off getting his maiden victory on the PGA Tour and this course may just be the tonic he needs to contend again. He was last seen finishing tied 5th at the Wells Fargo which included a spectacular 62 on the Saturday. With the help of Butch Harmon's employee Justin Parsons, Uihlein has elevated his game in recent months and bigger finishes are just around the corner. He won in Madeira which is notorious with wind, and he has posted a runner up spot at the Dunhill Links also. He doesn't have as much course correlation as the rest but I've a sneeky feeling he could go close here.
This may be a completely unsighted stab in the shade but I'm going to have a few quid each way on Greg Chalmers. I think the Aussies could be suited by this test as it's not unlike many of the courses they see back home. They are used to cross winds that may appear here, although at the time of writing it looks relatively calm for a Texas event. He is woefully inconsistent but it is worth noting he has won on the tour in the last two years, which plenty of these have not. Last time out he finished 21st in the Wells Fargo and a top 20 in the Honda earlier in the year shows he can play well on the tougher courses. With the pressure on putting from distance this week I think the fact he tops the '3 putt avoidance' stat could give him an advantage on the rest. Granted, it's a risky hail mary play, but one I have to follow with conviction. Snedeker and Lingmerth were my two substitutes that nearly made the team. As ever we will cross our fingers that I've made the right decision in that respect.