2019 Byron Nelson Picks, Rankings, Sleepers, Preview

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2019 Byron Nelson Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from Trinity Forest. Plus, an early look at the 2019 PGA Championship Betting market.

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2019 Byron Nelson Field

Field: 156 Players | Top 70 and Ties Make the Cut
First Tee: Thursday, May 9 at 8 a.m. ET
Defending Champion: Aaron Wise

Just a week away from finding out if the PGA Championship is changing its slogan to “Glory’s Second Shot” with his new slot on the scheduled, but, until then, we get to slog through the 2019 Byron Nelson.

You’d think more top names would use the week before a Major as a tune-up. Nope. Only Brooks Koepka, Henrik Stenson, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth are showing up to Dallas from the elite level. And frankly, Reed and Spieth are getting thrown into this group only since there are so few names. With his play the past 18 months, Spieth’s probably closer to the second tier American level at this point, along with Ryan Moore, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Keith Mitchell, Daniel Berger, Russell Henley, Jimmy Walker, Trey Mullinax, Kevin Na, Pat Perez, Ryan Palmer, Scott Piercy, Kevin Tway and defending champ Aaron Wise. At least Reed won at Augusta last year.

Fortunately, there are a cavalcade of internationals to save the 2019 Byron Nelson from owning the title as weakest field of the year: Branden Grace, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Alex NorenKiradech Aphibarnrat, Thomas Pieters, Justin Harding, Russell Knox, Dylan Frittelli, Sungjae Im, Thorbjørn Olesen, Sung Kang, KH Lee, CT Pan, Seamus Power, Rory Sabbatini, Abraham Ancer and now a Special Temporary PGA Tour member Lucas Bjerregaard all will be teeing it up at Trinity Forest. I guess the trip from Dallas to New York doesn’t bother those who jet set around the globe on the regular.

There are some curious exceptions, too. Former Alabama standout Davis Riley is making his first PGA start as a pro. He’s played four times on the Web this season with mixed results — T29/MC/MC/T18. Trinity Forest member Tony Romo is BACK on the PGA TOUR again. Romo was +15 in his start at Corales earlier this season. Fresh off an MC at Quail Hollow in his first start as a professional, Alvaro Ortiz — the GOOD Ortiz — will be back on the links. As will former University of Texas standout and low amateur from the 2018 Masters, Doug Ghim.

Those four are highly irrelevant from a picks perspective, but Scottie Scheffler is worth paying attention to. More on that later. I’ve already said too much.

2019 Byron Nelson: Key Stats

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
Par 4s Gained: 400-450 Yards
Opportunities Gained
Par 5s Gained

Mayo’s Custom Stat POWER RANKINGS from FantasyNational.com

2019 Byron Nelson: Course

Course: Trinity Forest GC
Par: 71
Yardage: 7,380
Greens: Bermuda
Par 5 Eagles: 44
Rank: 45/51 in 2018 (-1.582)

2019 Byron Nelson: 2018 Leaderboard

1st: Aaron Wise -23
2nd: Marc Leishman -20
T3: Branden Grace -19
T3: JJ Spaun -19
T3: Keith Mitchell -19
T6: Ryan Blaum -16
T6: Kevin Na -16
T6: Jimmy Walker -16
T9: Adam Scott -15
T9: Charles Howell III -15
T9: Kevin Tway -15

2019 Byron Nelson: Notes

This is the second year Trinity Forest has hosted the Byron Nelson.

Seven eagles were made on hole No. 5, the drivable 315-yard Par 4.

Trinity Forest has its own unique grass type for the tee boxes and fairways, “Trinity Zoysia.” They’re the only fairways in the world with this type of grass and were developed at Texas A&M for the unique climate of Texas.

There are 85 bunkers scattered across the grounds, but not a drip of water.

The putting surfaces are absolutely MASSIVE. Averaging over 13,000 square feet in size with wild undulations. This resulted in one of the highest GIR rates on TOUR (77%) yet one of the longest average distances from the hole for GIRs (34.7 feet). That makes a lot of intuitive sense. Fortunately for the field, at least in Year 1, the greens ran very slow. So, while Three-Putts per Round were higher than average, it wasn’t as significant as it could have been considering the length of some first putts on what essentially is rolling it giant cereal bowls.

The average Driving Distance was over 290 yards, seven higher than the PGA average. With the link style and lack of rough, players hit the fairway almost 80% of the time in 2018.

Although there’s very little of it, the rough is comprised of backland prairie seed mix. Fun fact: Backland prairie is the most endangered ecosystem in North America. This is why those areas aren’t maintained.

The cut was -4 in 2018.

Trinity Forest 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.” Think Birkdale, but significantly easier.

While there are no correlated course both based on the unique layout and lack of information of competitive play at the course, the greens appear to mimic super slow Augusta greens in terms of shape, and the ball striking appears to be similar to Silverado and TPC Scottsdale based on the limited numbers, and there was weird leaderboard crossover with the RSM Classic of all places. On first glance, it does look like Chambers Bay in terms of bump-and-run potential around the greens.

With a lack of tree coverage and the potential for scorching heat, if there’s no wind gusting, like in 2018, players are going to be able to go very low. We’ve yet to see it played competitively under difficult conditions. Conditions have been uncharacteristically damp in Dallas leading up to this event, so anticipate a course where players can smack the driver with impunity.

2018 Leaders in SG: OTT: Keith Mitchell (+4.8/T3), Aaron Wise (+4.6/1st), Hudson Swafford +4.0/T59), Jordan Spieth (+3.5/T21), Kevin Tway (+3.5/T9)

2018 Leaders in SG: APP: Aaron Wise (+6.0/1st), Adam Scott (+5.6/T9), Keith Mitchell (+5.3/T3), Robert Streb (+5.3/T53), Jimmy Walker (+5.0/T6).

2019 Byron Nelson — Targets From Each Range

Rafa Cabrera Bello

In the midst of an uber-consistent season, RCB is one the few second-level players in the field who gains strokes off the tee and through approach almost every single event. Per Fantasy National, the Spaniard has gained strokes with his irons in seven of eight US starts in 2019, with an average of +4.8 SG: APP in his past two weighted starts (Heritage/Valspar). And, while dropping a few at the shorter Harbour Town layout (-0.2), RCB had averaged +3.0 SG: OTT in his three tournaments previous, in closing a scorching +3.9 at the very driver-heavy Arnold Palmer Invitational. Sitting at No. 31 in the world rankings, Cabrera Bello has been close so many times on American soil without breaking through. Put him at a course which deemphasis short game and switches importance to lag putting, and he’s very live.

Aaron Wise

How about Aaron Wise again this year? It appears like conditions will mirror 12 months ago, and he’s beginning to peak after a rough stretch to kick off 2019. Wise followed up a T17 in his Masters debut with a T18 at Wells Fargo, where he landed Top 10 in SG: T2G, ahead of winner Max Homa, even. Homa just didn’t miss a putt over the weekend. So, we know Wise is playing better lately and still rates out Top 10 in this field in Birdies or Better Gained, SG: OTT and Par 4s Gained 400-450 yards over the past 35 rounds, too.

Keith Mitchell

A driver-friendly track with Bermuda greens? That’s Killah Keith’s calling card. Closed Sunday at Quail Hollow HOT, churning out another Top-10 finish, and returns to a course where he lead the field in ball striking a year ago, resulting in a T3. He’s a better player a year later and might actually improve on that result.

Scottie Scheffler

Fresh off a playoff loss on the Web Tour over the weekend, Scheffler’s posted four consecutive Top-Seven finishes on the Web starts. He was T20 at Valero a week before The Masters. He was ninth in the field in SG: APP (+4.8) at Valero and was 15th in Driving Distance gained. In fact, in two PGA starts on the season, he hasn’t gained fewer than +4.6 strokes with his irons. Oh, and he’s a Dallas local, too. Who doesn’t love a good narrative along with a skill fit?

Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im, Brooks Koepka, Trey Mullinax, Ryan Moore, Russell Knox, Boo Weekley, Scott Stallings

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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 (@ThePME) won the 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Podcast of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award, and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2019 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year). His 17 FSWA 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), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). 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 ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com 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.