Sleeper Picks: AT&T Byron Nelson
May 11, 2021
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Sepp Straka is one to watch this week in Texas. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
John Catlin (+15000) ... The 30-year-old native Californian is rapidly losing his label as an international man of mystery. That’s the cost of winning so often. When he debuted on the PGA TOUR at the 2018 CIMB Classic, he appeared in this space as a recent three-time champion on the Asian Tour. He delivered on the promise with a T22 in Kuala Lumpur. He went on to make another five starts on the PGA TOUR that season but they didn’t amount to much. Later in 2019, he prevailed in his transplanted home in Thailand. Since a four-month break due to the pandemic in 2020, he’s picked off three victories on the European Tour, the most recent of which the Austrian Golf Open in mid-April. Two weeks ago, he finished fifth at the Tenerife Open. The AT&T Byron Nelson opens a fortnight of competition as he’s poised for his major championship debut at Kiawah Island next week. He’ll be among the leader in fairways hit at TPC Craig Ranch.
Talor Gooch (+8000) … With his second start in the PGA Championship looming and without a break in four weeks, the commitment to the AT&T Byron Nelson cannot be overstated. At 53rd in the FedExCup, the 29-year-old from Oklahoma is entrenched in that sturdy seam of talent between the elite and the rank and file. It’s an extension of the pedigree he brought when he broke onto the PGA TOUR in 2017-18. Three top-five finishes this season, most recently a T5 at THE PLAYERS Championship.
Sepp Straka (+15000) … Now in his third season on the PGA TOUR, the 28-year-old from Austria is experiencing a flattening of his learning curve. In his first two seasons, he went a collective 23-for-50 but still qualified for the Playoffs in each. In 2020-21, he’s 16-for-21 with a pair of top 10s among five top 25s. He arrived at TPC Craig Ranch having strung together six paydays and sits a comfortable 92nd in the FedExCup. There isn’t much gloss on the back of his trading card but it’s also devoid a significant weakness. He presents as a quintessential sum-is-greater-than-his-parts talent.
Ben Martin (+10000) … Whether it’s a truncated season, a super season or just a traditional season, reaching the FedExCup Playoffs from the conditional status category never is easy. If anything, it’s a bonus after the stress of navigating the year not always knowing in advance when one’s number is high enough to wiggle into a field. This is his reality in 2020-21. The 33-year-old has made some noise of late with a T9 at Corales in March and a T11 at Quail Hollow last week to rise to 162nd in points. He’s doing his thing as usual off the tee, which is half the preferred equation at TPC Craig Ranch where he’s not a stranger. He placed T13 when the Korn Ferry Tour Championship was last held here in 2012.
Wes Roach (+30000) … Quietly going about his business juggling the PGA TOUR on conditional status with spot-starts on the Korn Ferry Tour. He’s 8-for-10 with three top 20s across both circuits in 2021. He’s slipped into a groove before, connecting for four top-11 finishes in six starts in the summer of 2019, three of which on the PGA TOUR. The 32-year-old is closer to qualifying for the KFT Finals via the FedExCup for which he’s ranked 200th, but he’s also knocking on the door on the KFT where he’s 91st in points. His strength is keeping his ball in play from tee to green, so even an average week with a putter at TPC Craig Ranch would yield tee times on the weekend.
Odds were sourced on Tuesday, May 11 at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
NOTE: Sleeper is a relative term, so Rob uses unofficial criteria to determine who qualifies. Each of the following usually is determined to be ineligible for this weekly staple: Winners of the tournament on the current host course; winners in the same season; recent major champions; top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking; recent participants of team competitions.