The AT&T Byron Nelson Championship at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas tees off on Thursday morning, and it has drawn a pretty deep field. There are plenty of choices for you to make as you look to build your DFS lineups, and this column is meant to give you a little bit of perspective as you begin that process. Good luck!
The first thing I will say about this weekend is that as good as the field looks, you should get used to this sort of player pool as we head into the meat of the summer PGA schedule. Not all the top Americans show up every week, and then there is the obvious, which jumps out at you when you look over your choices at this point in the season: the complete lack of Europeans. They are all busy with the Irish Open this weekend, and rightfully so – it’s a great tournament. And as a diligent DFS owner, you are going to want to know how it goes down, so you have a basis to compare the current state of European players when they do finally head back to the states for the U.S Open (or maybe a week before to get ready). But that’s the thing – you can use the Irish Open results to compare European players to each other, not to Americans, just as you can use something like AT&T Byron Nelson Championship result for the opposite (to compare Americans to each other).
So yes, get used to this kind of field – they are coming, and will even lose some of the top-end talent after we get past the Open. But it will become second nature to look at Zach Johnson and Patrick Reed or Jason Day and Jimmy Walker and decide who you want that next time Sergio is tossed into the mix it might throw your whole decision-making process into a tail spin. Watch out for that.
But for this weekend alone, Jason Day is going to be on everyone’s list of favorites, and for good reason. He’s playing well now, and he’s played well here before. For more such analysis, check out my PGA Targets column that gets into a bit more depth about Day and others. But for right now, it’s useful if you just accept that Day is going to be a top choice. The next question is why? Why does Day perform well here – what is it about his game, or Snedeker’s game, or Sabbatini’s?
I find that this approach can often be useful if I am looking for a stat or an identifier that I feel might help me sort out who might be well-suited for the course and the tournament even if they don’t have a long history here. And for this weekend, I found two things, and the first is putting, so I won’t get into detail – that one is obvious, and if you read me, you know I love the new Strokes Gained: Putting stat, especially looking to see whether players are trending up or down that list.
But the second observation is maybe more useful: unlike most other tournaments, the scoring to be done here is not done on par-5’s. This is not a course that rewards length, and it does not give up birdie opportunities easily. But when they do come, it is most often on par 4’s, because at least they are reachable, albeit sometimes with a longer iron than you’d like. This leads me to two stats: Par-Four scoring, and scrambling. These are the stats that will make sure you get the 15 or 18 birdies you will need to compete for the win here, as well as to make sure you don’t have those blow-up holes that render your birdies meaningless. (Side note, I can’t imagine being this good at golf, like these pros, and being faced with a par-5 where the total distance is just over 500, but the layout still leaves you with an approach shot near 300 yards).