Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the PGA Tour's AT&T Byron Nelson Classic taking place at TPC Craig Ranch.
2021/2022 US PGA Tour
AT&T Byron Nelson Classic
TPC Craig Ranch, McKinney, Texas
Max Homa survived some apocalyptic weather conditions at TPC Potomac to win his fourth career PGA title. Here’s to hoping that this trip to the Lone Star state will provide slightly more hospitable conditions.
Originally known as the Dallas Open, the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic has a champion’s roster as illustrious as any Major Championship. Byron Nelson- the event’s current namesake- won the first edition back in 1944.
Sam Snead and Ben Hogan would then win the next two editions of the event. Subsequent winners of this event include Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. Did I mention Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson are also Byron Nelson champions? So, it’s fair to say that this event has enjoyed a fairly charmed existence.
TPC Craig Ranch to pose stern test ahead of PGA Championship
That was until TPC Four Seasons took away a bit of the event’s lustre in recent times. The tournament switched to Trinity Forest in 2018 and settled on TPC Craig Ranch last year.
I think it’s fair to say that it’s slowly regaining some of its lost credibility and should be the perfect appetizer ahead of next week’s US PGA Championship
Designed by severely underrated pro Tom Weiskopf, TPC Craig Ranch was opened in 2004.
This is really a course that should instil confidence ahead of next week’s gruelling Major test. The course features minimal rough and wide zoysiagrass fairways. The bentgrass greens measure 11.5 on the stimp and Rowlett Creek provides plenty of water danger throughout the course.
The pros have absolutely destroyed this event since its switch to TPC Craig Ranch. Stats suggest that what you do off the green is largely irrelevant. As with most birdie-fests, hitting greens and making putts will be of paramount importance.
That’s probably the reason why all the champions here have been wild outsiders. It’s harder to accurately pinpoint success on such a gettable course (all you need is a hot putter to get in the mix).
Strong field set to compete this week
Last year’s event attracted a strong field and this year sees a continuation of the tournament’s renewal, with nine of the world’s top 17 players in attendance. Current World No.1 and proud Texan Scottie Scheffler will no doubt enjoy huge support this week.
With the year’s 2nd Major looming, it will be interesting to see how the current Masters champ treats this event. He is still likely to trail Jordan Spieth in terms of fanatical Texan support.
The Dallas native is like a god in this neck of the woods and he will be looking to harness some good vibes ahead of Southern Hills. DJ will be looking for a little momentum after a slow start to 2022.
Elsewhere, the likes of Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele are never too far away from contention. This event gives the pros one final chance to finetune their game ahead of next week’s US PGA Championship.
2021: KH Lee (-25)
2020: event cancelled due to pandemic
2019: Sung-Hoon Kang (-23)
2018: Aaron Wise (-23)
2017: Billy Horschel (-12) *playoff
2016: Sergio Garcia (-15) *playoff
To Win Outright:
Scottie Scheffler 10/1 | Justin Thomas 12/1 | Sam Burns 20/1 | Xander Schauffele 20/1 | Jordan Spieth 22/1
Adam Hadwin- To Win 50/1 | To Place 11/1
Adam Hadwin looks like brilliant value at 50/1. The Canadian is currently ranked inside the top 50 of the FedEx Cup rankings. He is ranked inside the top 20 in approach play and putting (which should prove to be vital stats this week). He could be primed for a tilt at his 2nd US PGA Tour title. He finished 9th at the Players, 7th at the Valspar and 4th at the Texas Open. He also has history on this course, finishing 3rd at the 2012 Web.com Tour Championship.
Dylan Frittelli- To Win 125/1 | To Place 25/1
I’m looking here through the lens of Texas familiarity. As an alumnus of Texas University, South African Dylan Frittelli has a huge affinity for the area. This was evidenced by his 8th-place finish at last month’s Valero Texas Open. That’s only half the story as he was the 54-hole leader in that event. In total, he has two top 10’s and another top 20 in his last four Texas starts. His recent approach play also encourages me. He ranked inside the top 25 for strokes gained: approach at both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Texas Open. He also ranked 11th for approach at the Players. This- coupled with his Texas cred- make him a nice dark horse pick this week.
The Man to Beat- Will Zalatoris- To Win 22/1 | To Place 48/10
This will be the first traditional stroke-play event that Zalatoris will have played since his T6 at the Masters. I think Zalatoris could continue the trend of first-time winners at TPC Craig Ranch. He hasn’t missed a cut this year and has three top-six finishes to his name. This included an agonizing runner-up finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Zalatoris also ranks 2nd in strokes gained: approach for the year (this could prove to be a crucial stat this week).