Pick 'Em Preview: AT&T Byron Nelson
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The easiest course since PGA TOUR Pick ‘Em Live launched has been Copperhead at Innisbrook Resort, host of the Valspar Championship. No, you’re not going to find professional golfers describing it as a pushover, but that’s not the point.
In our relative world of betting, all we care about are results. However, when scores promise to be as low as they will be at TPC Craig Ranch, site of this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson, expand your focus and oil your swivels because they’re gonna be a-spinnin’ in correlation to a kaleidoscope of red numbers.
After posting top 40s in Pick ‘Em Live at the Mexico Open at Vidanta, Rob and Glass absorbed a couple of knockout blows at the Wells Fargo Championship. That’s fine, they can handle it. They’ve landed hard on the mat before. Those who know them best would say that that explains a few things.
Indicative of their expectations this week, their approaches are varied in the bets below, particularly the weeklongs. It gives respect (and capitalizes on) the random, and it’s likely going to require keeping a closer pulse of the action than usual.
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Rob … Kurt Kitayama (+10000)
If I wanted the PGA TOUR's version of Rich Strike, I'd plunk down a couple of units for, who else, Richy Werenski. And at +50000, he qualifies. But no thanks. Lightning strikes only once, too.
TPC Craig Ranch will host its own version of a horse race this week, so I'll reach for the first grouping at five digits. Defending champion K.H. Lee is among them but Kitayama's arrow is pointed in an upward direction. Dude has been on a heater with a T2 in Mexico and a T15 outside D.C. He's secured his card for next season, so all pressure is off and focus singularly sharpens to finding an open lane for an upset victory.
Glass … Matthias Schwab (+15000)
In an event where half-a-dozen guys broke 20-under last year and the top-60 players were 10-under or better, there's no chance I would start my staking plan with anyone less than +10000. Scott Stallings made THIRTY birdies here last year and didn't win!
Free minds, swings and putting strokes will open up all of the doors this week, so start down the board and work your way back up. With big targets off the tee and into the greens, I'll take my chance on a guy who can get hot with the putter. Young guys have an easier time of letting it rip, he hits enough GIR and he’s top 20 Strokes Gained: Putting.
Rob … Matthew Wolff (+900)
My outright, Kurt Kitayama, is +800 for a Top 10, so I'm compelled to look beyond his horizon. There I see Wolff in sheepish clothing at even longer odds.
The fact that he's sitting there should be a coup for y'all. His firepower is documented, he's excelling at the hard part about discussing his mental health the right way, and he's an Oklahoma State University product where he's always been comfortable.
Oh, and if you want a physics lesson, or at least a lesson from my physics teacher of which Wolff's approach reminded me this week, you'll appreciate his perspective that I shared in Draws and Fades on Tuesday.
Glass … Hank Lebioda (+1400)
Led the field in proximity last year when he was just starting to find his feet before a hot summer. He's cashed three straight events for the first time this season and he returns to familiar ground with T17 and 22 birdies. If you dig this deep, you'll have to be on your toes as the week rolls on to catch the window to update/abandon ship or roll with a more conservative choice such as Sebastián Muñoz (+575).
Rob … Shaun Norris (+550)
And now, with my Top 10, Wolff, at +475 for a Top 20, I'm extending to one of the most intriguing international non-members right now.
Not that this is a reach, however. In fact, the value in the trenches spreads nicely that you can roll with a personal fave and feel good not only about his chances to convert but also that ownership dispersion is your friend.
Norris' story is such a good one that I went into more detail about it than usual in Sleepers, so please take a moment to read that if you already haven't. As he approaches "The Big 4-0" on Saturday, he's arguably in the best form of his career and has stacked starts in the last three majors recently, so this is a free play for the last man in the field on a sponsor exemption.
Glass … Mac Meissner (+1600)
Dallas resident who played at SMU should be more than comfortable and excited to make the home fans proud. He's cashed in seven of 10 tries on the Korn Ferry Tour, with T30 or better in six of those. The breeze shouldn't bother him and having just his second free roll on the BIG TOUR should have his full attention.
Glass … Xander Schauffele (+3300)
Had no problem racking up birdies with his SoCal buddy, Patrick Cantlay, in winning the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Tom Weiskopf's TPC Scottsdale has been a happy hunting ground, minus a win, so he should slide right in. What better way to prepare for a major than ripping off an early-bird Thursday round? Ride this birdie-maker until you don't have to!
Rob … Patton Kizzire (+6000)
Riffing off Glass' predictable and proper approach, I'm also limited my initial play to a pro in the morning wave. This is how it’s done in PGA TOUR Pick ‘Em Live. In fact, like Schauffele, Kizzire also goes off at 7:56 a.m. local time, albeit on the opposite side (No. 1).
If we didn't have the power to make changes during the competition, I wouldn't go back to Kizzire's well because, well, fool me thrice and all that. But the numbers don't lie. He's seventh on the PGA TOUR in R1 scoring average with 16 red numbers in 17 starts. He also finished T3 here last year with sub-70s in every round. His 63 in the finale was the field low on the day.
MAKE THE CUT
Rob … Kurt Kitayama (-140)
If he doesn’t win, I don't want to be empty-handed. Compared to his opening odds as my outright, this would be worth 9,982 fewer coins, but that's still greater than zero.
Glass … J.J. Spaun (-135)
Opened with 63 here in 2021, so maybe I should have loaded him up for FRL instead! Well-deserved break after winning Valero to get into his first Masters (T23) before fading out at RBC Heritage. Obviously, he doesn't mind a bit of wind as his other top 10 this season was T7 in Bermuda.
Glass … Sebastián Muñoz (+155) over Matt Kuchar & Danny Willett
Muñoz has rattled off seven consecutive paydays and the North Texas alum will be right at home in McKinney. Posted 60 earlier this season on a wide-open RSM and opened with 66 last time out at the Mexico Open.
Rob … Aaron Wise (-137) over Jonas Blixt & Jason Dufner
As I’ve detailed, even if a guy at +200 delivers 50 coins, it’s not going to have an impact unless you’re connecting on the weeklongs, R1 leader and/or 2-balls, and even then, it’s unlikely to matter due to the distribution of total points and since only the top five get paid. So, when Glass and I go at it blind before 3-balls are on the board, I always default to an obvious favorite. If another on my short list of 4-6 is a little bit longer, I’ll bite, but that’s only because I’m competitive. Ya think?
Wise is in my Power Rankings. End of story.
NOTE: While Glass and Rob typically stick with their selections as detailed in Pick ‘Em Preview, they are allowed the right to make changes at any time.