Four betting angles ahead of the AT&T Byron Nelson

The PGA Tour returns to Texas this week, but the players will face a test new to the circuit – TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney.

This week's PGA Tour event is no youngster, with a history heading back to 1944, a year when most folk had had other things on their mind, but Byron Nelson himself claimed the title ahead of the gloriously named Jug McSpaden.

Poor old Jug finished second a year later, but not in 1946, when everyone could safely concentrate on the golf without feeling like the orchestra on the Titanic.

Instead, that year Herman Kaiser, a man who sounds like a clumsily-named character from a 1970s comic strip obsessed with World Wars I and II, claimed the runner-up spot.

Truly, there is some stuff you just cannot make up.

The AT&T Byron Nelson might have a long history, but this week marks its first visit to TPC Craig Ranch.

The tournament is the last chance for the field to find their swing ahead of the second Major Championship of the year and the two leaders in the betting, Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau, will be particularly keen to iron out a few creases in their games.

Let's take a closer look at four betting angles we can make use of ahead of Thursday's first round.

Big hitting

Texan Ryan Palmer is the course record holder at Craig Ranch and, speaking about what he believes will be key to success this week, said: "You've got wide fairways and it's going to be tough to tighten them up. The greens are big and you've got to hit it a long way. I think it will be a bombers course."

The only defence he could foresee was the Texan wind, but the current forecast is for nothing exceptional in the way of gusts.

In terms of big-hitting there is currently no-one quite as obvious as DeChambeau, who also proved he has a warm putter when second for Strokes Gained Putting last week.

DeChambeau is a best price of just 8/1 with William Hill which will attract some.

But what about a big hitter whose price has a bit more meat on the bone?

Cameron Champ ranks third in the Driving Distance category, behind only DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy, and he also recorded a career-best Putting Average of 1.58 in his last solo start at the Masters.

The two-time PGA Tour winner is best price 100/1 with Sport Nation.

Hot putting

Palmer also said, "It's going to be a big putting contest," and if that's true the obvious call is Jordan Spieth, who is a three-time winner in his home state of Texas and, moreover, he won there, in San Antonio, at the start of last month when leading the Putting Average category.

The three-time Major champion is best price 10/1 with Unibet so let's look elsewhere for a bigger quote.

There's no doubt that Matthew Fitzpatrick would struggle if distance and nothing else mattered, but if it becomes a putting contest he should have no worries.

Fitzpatrick is a demon on the greens.
Fitzpatrick is a demon on the greens.

He ranks first for Putting Average in this field over the last 12 months and his seasonal stats are equally impressive.

He's 11th for Strokes Gained Putting, 13th for Total Putting, 25th for Putting Average and 30th for Birdie Average.

He won the European Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship at the end of last year and has racked up five top 12 finishes in his last six strokeplay starts on the PGA Tour.

The Englishman is best price 20/1 with Unibet.

Sneaky course experience

TPC Craig Ranch might be new to the PGA Tour but the layout was well-enough thought of to host the second tier Tour Championship in both 2008 and 2012.

In the second of those Luke List made a poor start with a 74 for T55th, but thereafter he caught fire, carding 68-67-68 to race through the field for T13th.

He's been a constant on the PGA Tour since 2016, but the win has proven elusive.

At the start of the return from lockdown last June he opted to play a Korn Ferry Tour event and promptly won it, since when there has been more good golf without quite turning it into another success.

He finished T17th in the Texas Open at the start of last month and was an impressive tied sixth last week at Quail Hollow.

Nor will he mind if long tee balls make a difference because he ranks seventh this season.

List is best price 80/1 with Unibet.

Don't discount recent winner Sam Burns either.

He played Craig Ranch in 2017 Qualifying School and thrashed the field by five shots, littering his card with birdies and eagles.

His putter was red hot when he won the Valspar Championship.

After waiting a while for the first win, might two arrive one after the other?

He's best price 33/1 with Unibet.

Event specialists

Aussie Jason Day is fond of the event - he's got a win, second, fifth and ninth from five starts - but let's focus instead on his compatriot Marc Leishman who's in better form and spends less time in the first aid room.

The Leish did miss three cuts when the tournament was at Las Colinas, but when he did make the weekend he always made hay.

He finished tied eighth on debut in 2009, has finished T12th twice, T13th once, and was third in both 2012 and 2014.

Nor did the move to Trinity Forest bother him, opening with a 61 for a three shot first round lead in 2018 before slowly having that advantage eaten into with every subsequent lap, eventually finishing third.

Golfers from Down Under often say they enjoy Texas, believing the blustery winds and dry turf are reminiscent of home.

Leishman actually won his first start in the state on the second tier in 2008 and, in all, he's recorded nine top 30 finishes in 33 starts.

Moreover, he was tied seventh at TPC Craig Ranch back in 2008.

He's in great nick, too, finishing tied fifth at the Masters and then winning the Zurich Classic alongside Cameron Smith.

He's a best price of 33/1 with Unibet.

READ MORE: Texas Ranger: Can Jordan Spieth add to his trophy haul in this week's AT&T Byron Nelson?

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