This Week’s Event: 2018 Byron Nelson

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg debate their 2018 Byron Nelson picks and the week in Fantasy and betting at this week’s PGA Tour stop at Trinity Forest GC.

2018 Byron Nelson — Picks and Preview | Full Preview | Picks Podcast | Golfer Stat Power Rankings | Quick Picks | One and Done | Picks Cheat Sheet | All Stats | FavoritesMiddle Range | Long Shots | All-Golf Cust Corner

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2018 Byron Nelson Picks: Show Index

0:49PLAYERS Recap
3:59 — Phil’s Stupid Shirt
8:07 — Tiger
14:02 — PGA Schedule
17:01 — Euro Event
18:48 — Course/Stats
21:35 — Favorites
35:39 — Middle Tier
40:26 — Long Shots
52:02 — Quick Picks
55:05 — One and Done

2018 Byron Nelson Field

156 Players | Top 70 And Ties Make The Cut

With THE PLAYERS finished and the U.S. Open a month away, the majority of the world’s best are going on vacation to prep for the year’s second major. Additionally, most of the Euros have buggered off back to the old world. That leaves us with the likes of Two Gloves Tommy Gainey, Brendon Todd, Ken Duke, David Berganio Jr., Daniel Chopra, Robert Allenby, and D.J. Trahan at the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson.

Now, it’s not a complete disaster in Dallas. Jordan Spieth (who is a member at the course), Sergio Garcia, Hideki Matsuyama, Brendan Grace, Matt Kuchar and Marc Leishman all have decided to elevate this above a PGA Latinoamérica field. Plus, the fans will get some name value in Jimmy Walker, Adam Scott, Charles Howell III, Bill Haas, Graeme McDowell and Brandt Snedeker.

The remainder of the field will be propped up by Beau Hossler, Satoshi Kodaira, Russell Knox, Grayson Murray, Ryan Palmer, J.B. Holmes, Scott Piercy, Patrick Rodgers, Rory Sabbatini, Kevin Na, J.J. Spaun, Peter Uihlein, Kevin Tway, James HAHNNNNNNNNN and Aaron Wise.

It’s not all a disaster, though. Event organizers have given sponsors exceptions to Joaquin Niemann and Maverick McNeal. Recently turned pro Niemann followed his top 10 at the Valero by missing the cut on the number in Charlotte, and he can get his full TOUR exemption with another solid showing this week. Stephan Jäger (bombs) enters on the heels of a victory on the Web Tour last week. Then there’s Andrew Putnam, who has gained on approach in four consecutive events, made the cut in each and churned out two top 10s.

2018 Byron Nelson Key Stats

Strokes Gained: Approach
Par 4s Gained
Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
Birdies or Better Gained
Par 5s Gained

Mayo’s Custom Stat POWER RANKINGS from

2018 Byron Nelson Course

Trinity Forest GC | 7,380 Yards | Par 71
Greens: Bermuda | Difficulty: New Course on TOUR

Goodbye, TPC Four Seasons. Hello, Trinity Forest GC. A misleading name for a course that, while completely surrounded by trees, has almost none on the grounds.

First-time courses always are extremely difficult to gauge from a prognostication standpoint. Usually, we have good data and make crappy picks based on that. Now, we have no data, and assumptions made about how the course will play will just turn out to be false. It’s tricky stuff. The best we can do is look at visuals of the layout and put blind faith in interviews.

Opened in 2016, Trinity Forest was constructed on top of a sand-capped landfill by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. Since environmental regulations wouldn’t let them dig on the grounds, they just came in and put dirt all over the place. Crenshaw desires it as such: “A landfill with character. The indiscriminate dumping of dirt on the property had led to some pretty contours. It’s rolling land. It’s not flat, but it’s not precipitous rise and fall.”

Essentially, it looks like a British links course. However, according to member Jordan Spieth, it won’t necessarily play like a traditional links course:

“It’s like an American links. You’ve kind of got to play it from the air, not really a bounce-the-ball-up kind of links, but it is still a links-looking golf course. So it’s weird, it’s unique. Birkdale was kind of the closest comparison I’ve found to a links course that you kind of have to attack from the air. You get maybe four or five, six holes where you can bounce the ball up, but the way to get balls close is to come in with a higher shot. That’s not necessarily true links. I don’t want to say that about Birkdale because of the history and everything, but it’s just the way I’ve found to play it well is that route.”

He says Birkdale. I think Chambers Bay and Pinehurt No. 2 are courses to throw into the mix as well. Trinity Forest likely won’t play as tough as those tracks, though. In fact, it could get torched, depending on the conditions.

While Trinity Forest is a daunting 7,380 yards, playing as a Par 71, the Zoysia grass on the fairways should alleviate distance advantage off the tee, and the YUGE fairways and non-maintained rough will mitigate most accuracy concerns. Since this should be a second-shot course, strategy and course management off the tee will be my primary focus, hence Strokes Gained: Ball Striking — a summation of SG: Off-The-Tee and SG: Approach, with an extra lean to the approach side of things. Which, frankly is pretty standard for most events.

I’ll pop Par 4s gained and some around-the-green numbers into the research, but first-time courses run the risk of creating way more noise than usual. And, golf stats can be super noisy.

Finally, there are the cereal bowl-shaped greens. Since they’re weirdly undulating, they’ll run a lot slower on the Stimpmeter than greens at most PGA Tour events. And, it throws a wrench into what to expect from around-the-green work. If conditions bake the course, there might be room for the field to putt from green side in lieu of chipping, which throws the ATG numbers way out of whack.

Honestly, unless you have a feel for the course, or some sleepers you’re just sure of, side with the historically good ball strikers and hope that’s the key.

Best of luck.

2018 Byron Nelson Picks — Targets From Each Range

Marc Leishman

The T63 won’t tell the story, but Leishman actually played pretty well last week at TPC Sawgrass. He just happened to lose over five strokes with the putter. Still, he now has gained strokes with his approaches in six consecutive events, including a T9 and T7 at The Masters and API, respectively, and historically, he’s an excellent wind player who does damage on Par 4s. Don’t be rattled by his PLAYERS finish. Plus, you always need an Aussie in these windy Texas events.

Brendan Grace

Maker of 10 consecutive cuts, Grace seems perfectly suited to tackle a new, American links-style course. Before needing to GET LUCKY (which he didn’t) closing out at Chambers Bay, the South African showcased his long-iron skills, along with his creativity around the greens. Getting up to speed on a new layout never is easy, but Grace seems to be one of the best at getting himself quickly acclimated to new surroundings. Plus, he’s just a notch below the elite in this field, and many will bypass him for the bigger names then down to the bigger savings.

Joaquin Niemann

The former No. 1-ranked amateur as of a month ago will make his third pro start on a sponsor exemption, needing some more top finishes quickly if he’s going to play the remainder of the season on the PGA Tour. Ball striking wise, he rates out fifth in this field over the past 24 rounds, trailing only Scott Piercy, Spieth, Sergio and Scott. Decent company. The only drawback will be his around-the-green skills. He has yet to gain strokes from 30 yards and in during any of his three measured PGA starts. However, if he continues to strike the ball at the clip he has shown over the past month, he won’t need to rely much on his chipping.

Rory Sabbatini

Tee-to-Green, very few have been as consistent, from the lower rung of players, as Sabbs this season. He has gained getting to the green in 10 of 12 starts in 2018 and just keeps making cuts. There are few high-end finishes. But, at a course with many unknowns, a veteran like Sabbatini should be able to manage his way around the course enough to get to the weekend.

Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.comSpieth, Piercy, Beau Hossler, Richy Werenski, CHIII, Scott, Kuchar, Sergio and Troy Merritt

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo’s (@ThePME) 14 Fantasy Sports Writing Association nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting) and genre (humor). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at and the best will be addressed on the show.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.