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Scheduling, especially in this season of new $20m ‘designated events, means the field for this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson was always going to be compromised.
At least organizers could lean on the support of two Texas superstars in Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth.
Well, that was the plan. The unfortunate reality is that Spieth has been forced to pull out with a wrist injury.
Spieth was runner-up last year to K.H. Lee, who proved that lightning can strike twice.
The Korean was the shock winner in 2021 when shooting 25-under to beat Sam Burns by three.
And last year he pulled off an unexpected defense, this time posting 26-under to edge out Spieth by one.
Anyone wondering why he’s the same price this week as 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama has their answer.
With Sung-hoon Kang winning the 2019 edition (2020 was canceled due to the pandemic) at Trinity Forest, Koreans have won the last three editions.
TPC Craig Ranch is a 7,414-yard par 71 located around 25 miles north of Dallas.
That’s a change from last year, par being reduced from 72 due to the 12th hole now being played not as a par 5 but a par 4 measuring 493 yards.
It’s a modern track designed by Tom Weiskopf and only opened in 2004.
The course features bentgrass greens but bermuda rough elsewhere.
Weather conditions ahead of the tournament have led to the rough not being as thick as expected which could help the longer drivers.
And with birdies required in bunches, don’t rule out a super-low round.
Sebastian Munoz fired a 60 last year while Xander Schauffele and James Hahn both twirled 61s.
As for the weather, it doesn’t look great.
Rain is in the forecast all four days, t-storms can’t be ruled out and, this being Texas, there are bound to be testing winds too.
Given Spieth’s WD, Scheffler’s odds have contracted even further.
That’s hardly a surprise given that Scheffler hasn’t finished worse than 12th in nine starts since the calendar flipped.
In that run, the Texas local has wins at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and THE PLAYERS Championship.
Less convincing is his course form: 47th in 2021 and 15th last year.
Tyrrell Hatton is second in the betting at +1200.
The Englishman, who is making his course debut, was impressive last week when finishing third at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Tom Kim got a sighter here last year when tied 17th and comes in off-tied 23rd at Quail Hollow on Sunday.
Jason Day won this event in 2012 but has form of 51-MC since the event moved to TPC Craig Ranch.
It won’t have gone unnoticed among the Korean contingent that they’ve been the dominant force in this event over the last few years.
So let’s back them to extend that winning sequence from three to four by putting our faith in the hands of Tom Kim.
The youngster is a phenomenal talent and last October became the first player since Tiger Woods to win twice on the PGA Tour before the age of 21.
That victory arrived when shooting 24-under at the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas and came just two months on from his five-shot win at the Wyndham Championship, a triumph secured with 20-under.
In other words, when it’s a birdie-fest - as we’ve got this week - Kim is a man to watch closely.
As noted, he was 17th here last year while in the last month he’s posted 16th on his Masters debut, added seventh in the Zurich Classic pairs event and a top 25 last week at the Wells Fargo.
Something is brewing and the final piece of the jigsaw is that Kim now resides in Dallas so he’ll have some extra home comforts this week.
Take the Korean phenom at +1600 with bet365.
Tyrrell Hatton and Jason Day had contrasting fortunes at Quail Hollow last week.
Hatton had a sniff at the title before finishing third while Day shot 72-70 and missed the cut.
And, no surprises, I’m going to go with the form man here and back Hatton to get the better of Day over 72 holes at -125.
Hatton hasn’t played this course yet but he’s a fast learner and also boasts some decent form in Texas.
He’s had top 10s in the Charles Schwab Challenge and Houston Open as well as a couple of runs to the last 16 of the World Match Play in Austin.
At Wells Fargo last week, the Englishman ranked 7th for Strokes Gained: Approach which bodes well and that third place followed a top 20 at Hilton Head.
Going further back, Hatton was also runner-up at THE PLAYERS Championship a week after a fourth at Bay Hill so let’s hope for big back-to-back finishes once more.
Day hasn’t shown any form at this course in two visits and looks to have gone off the boil.
Well fancied for a big week at Augusta National, he fired 74-80 on the weekend and his only start since resulted in that MC at Wells Fargo.
Back Hatton to win their 72-hole match at bet365.
Backing Matt Kuchar to play well in Texas is just about one of the most surefire bets in golf.
The veteran has nine top 20s in his last 11 starts in the Lone Star State and six of those, including the last two, have doubled as top 10s.
With current form of 23-19-3-9, everything looks in place for Kooch to do what he does best: finishing on page one of the leaderboard without actually winning.
Kuchar is +300 for a Top 20 with bet365.
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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at SkySports.com and Golf365.com and has been writing betting previews for the PGA Tour and European Tour since 1997. He has also written for a range of betting companies, including William Hill and Betfair, as well as being a regular columnist for Rotoworld, The Guardian, Sporting Life and Planet Sport. His other area of speciality is football while he's also covered cricket and tennis.
Email: [email protected]More info on Dave Tindall
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