PGA Tour Odds and Predictions: Byron Nelson Championship
by Alan Matthews - 5/26/2011
Well, I have to be honest: The European PGA Tour’s BMW Championship has a far superior field this weekend than does the Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons Resort outside of Dallas. But, again, the Euro event starts so early in the morning – plus, hey, we do live in America, right? So we shall stick with the PGA Tour again this week.
However, because of that big-money BMW event, almost every top European is overseas this weekend. Then you have the Tiger Woods injury and Phil Mickelson’s very particular schedule, on top of the fact that most top players are in next week’s Memorial Tournament – Jack Nicklaus’ event – and one can sort of understand why there is only one Top 10 player entered this week (Matt Kuchar) and four other members of the Top 25 (Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney, K.J. Choi and Jason Day). Mickelson won here in 1996 and finished third in his last appearance in 2007; Adam Scott won here in 2008 but is bailing for the second year in a row. Even area resident Hunter Mahan, who would be a favorite, is skipping, apparently because he doesn’t like the course. Since Byron Nelson did five years ago, many top players have since taken a pass here – although some, like former champion Vijay Singh (66/1) this week, continue to play in Nelson’s honor.
Watney and Johnson have opened as the 14/1 favorites this week at Bodog, according to PGA Tour odds. Of those two, Watney is playing far better this year. He has six Top-10 finishes in 10 PGA Tour events, including a win at the WGC-Cadillac. Watney took a week off following his T4 at the Players Championship. However, in four times playing this event (although not since 2008) Watney hasn’t had a Top-25 finish. I love Johnson even though 2011 has been a bit of a struggle as he has yet to win and has a missed cut and finishes of T38 and T57 in his past three tournaments. That just means he is overdue, and in the past two years at the Byron Nelson he has recorded a T4 and T7 with all but one of his eight rounds being in the 60s.
Could Day repeat? He and Choi are co-second favorites at 16/1. Last year at 22, Day became the youngest Aussie to win a PGA Tour event, taking a two-stroke lead into Sunday over journeyman Blake Adams. Thankfully for Day, no one made a run and his 72 was good for a two-shot win over Adams. That has been Day’s only visit to this tournament. Day has been playing well this year – he had three consecutive Top-10 finishes before a T31 at Colonial last week. No one is playing better than Choi, as his win at the Players was his career-high-tying fourth consecutive Top-10 finish. But he has yet to finish in the Top 25 here in six stops.
Ben Crane is solid value at 28/1, according to my Byron Nelson Classic predictions. He’s a Texas resident so he knows the course well. And Crane, who missed the cut last week, has Top 10s in his past two appearances here, including a tie for seventh last year.
If you want a good sleeper, consider Marc Leishman at 50/1. Prior to last week’s tournament he had been struggling big time, not shooting a round in the 60s and missing three of four cuts, including at 17-over through 36 holes at the Players Championship. But he rebounded with three rounds in the 60s last week at Colonial before a final-round 76. Leishman seems to like this course, finishing T12 last year and T8 in 2009 in his only two appearances.
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