By: John Heffelfinger
Last week was an alright week with 3/6 of the guys making the cut and two guys missing it by 1 shot. Mr. Spieth did end up getting 2nd which helped, but I am aiming for more than 3/6 this week.
This week ; the Byron Nelson will be taking place in Dallas, TX where there has been a lot of rain and severe weather the last week so the course will most likely be playing a bit slower, and going to be relying on good accurate driving along with good approach shots. These are my picks for the week.
*Beware of guys withdrawing as Ian Poulter and Jason Day have withdrawn.
Jordan Spieth – I know that he is going to be very expensive this week, but I still wouldn’t be the one to fade him. Let’s start out with the Vegas odds. Spieth this weekend is a 9/2 favorite which makes him the odds on favorite. Following him are Dustin Johnson at 11-1, Jason Day at 15-1 odds (he just withdrew), and then Brent Snedeker at 25-1 odds. Now this shouldn’t be surprising as he is the best player in the tournament and the most expensive. However, the difference between Spieth and Johnson is somewhat telling, and then the drop to Snedeker who is the 3rd highest favorite at 25-1. Now let’s get to the actual stats. Spieth has made 12/14 cuts this year and 1 of those missed cuts he attributed to a lack of practice. He has 9 top 10 finishes this year with 3 2nd place finishes and 2 Wins. He has been incredibly consistent at finishing at the top which is what you want if your spending big on these guys. He has made the cut here the last two years finishing T-37th last year at -2 and in 2013 he finished T-68th at +5. Now there is nothing to get excited about with those finishes, but I’ll use recent success in the case of Spieth because he has been on fire. One thing that worries me about him is his driving % especially when the rough could be quite difficult with all of the rain. He is 97th on the tour hitting roughly 61.32% of the fairways. Now he has shown that he can get out of trouble and his putting is simply incredible (27.50 putts per round) which is the best on the PGA. With the greens going to be playing slow and hard to read, I’ll go with the guy who can consistently nail putts this weekend
Brendan Todd – I think he is going to be one of the more popular plays of this weekend (like Palmer last weekend), but I expect some better results. He is the defending champion, shooting a -14 last year and defeat Mike Weir by two shots. He is going to be a bit cheaper than some of the other big guys, yet still brings a lot of consistency. He has made 12/14 cuts this year having 6 top 25 finishes and 3 top 10 finishes this year. He doesn’t have any wins or runner ups, but again he has had success on this course before so I expect good things. Vegas has him with the 14th highest odds to win the tournament at 40-1 which is about accurate for where he is going to be ranked this week. The two things I like about him again his driving accuracy and putting which are two of the big factors for me this weekend. He is 16th on the tour in driving % at 69.19 so he is going to be giving himself a good chance at attacking the pins vs. having to scramble in the likely deeper wetter rough. Then he is a pretty good putter himself where he is tied for 36th with an average of 28.45 putts per round. Now while Todd has said himself, it’s going to be more difficult for him than last year, I still expect him to be up towards the top of the leaderboard and hopefully contending for the W.
Jason Dufner – Dufner has been struggling a bit this year, but where he is at price wise, I think he’s very good value. He won this tournament back in 2012 with a -11 , tied for 33rd in 2013 with a -1, and tied for 48th last year with an E. 3 straight years of making the cut is enough for me to take a flyer on him especially with him having won here in the past. He has only made 8/12 cuts this year, only has 3 top 25 finishes and 1 top 10 so there is some pause for concern. Dufner has been driving the ball pretty well hitting the fairway 66.78% of the time which is 33rd on the tour. His putting hasn’t been good however averaging 29.12 putts per round which is 120th on the tour. If he can keep hitting the fairway, and from what I hear has a good approach game, then he should leave himself some makeable putts this weekend.
Hunter Mahan – For his price I really like the consistency he has had this year. He has made 13/14 cuts, having 6 top 25 finishes and 3 top 10 finishes. Last year in 25 events he had 9 top 25’s and 6 top 10’s, and he has always struck me as a pretty consistently safe bet week in and week out. Mahan is only 96th in driving % this year at 61.33%, but he fell from 75th the week before, so I would still consider him slightly above average in that category. He’s also very average in putting at 28.92 putts per round which is 91st on the tour. He is however 64th in Greens in Regulation at 67.25% so I look for a good amount of birdie tries out of Mahan this weekend. Mahan hasn’t played here the last two years so there is a bit of risk there, but with his consistency and price I think he a good pick.
Carlos Ortiz – As I stated last week the main goal of these lower money guys is to have them make the cut. If they can win, then that’s the cherry on top, but getting those extra points on the weekend is crucial for making a run. Carlos Ortiz is a guy I noticed last weekend and looking at him, he should be a guy that makes it into the weekend. He has made 13/18 cuts which is pretty good and shows me that he has been playing a lot of golf which is also good. Like Mahan, Ortiz hasn’t played in this tournament the last two years which is kind of scary for a lower money guy, but if his game is on then I’m not going to be too worried. To go along with those 13 made cuts, he has 7 top 25s and 1 top 10 this year so he has shown some brilliance this year so far. He’s tied for 96th with 28.97 putts per round which is around average in the PGA tour which again is not bad. One of the things he does do poorly is drive the ball (only 59.52% in the fairway which is 120th on the PGA), but for a player of this price, he is going to have some holes. I like Ortiz especially if you’re going with a player like Spieth this weekend, and I believe he will make the cut
Jhonattan Vegas – Vegas, like Ortiz, has done a great job of making cuts for such a low price point. He has made 12 of 18 cuts including 6 out of his last 7. Then there is the fact that he has 7 top 25 finishes as well as 1 top 10 tournament. Over 50% of the time he makes the cut, he ends up in the top 25 which is a stat that I really like. Vegas is one of the most inaccurate drivers at 54.12% of fairways hit, which could end up being a problem this weekend. The good thing however is that there are some really good players like Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed that are even worse at it, so you can have success without hitting the fairway. He’s also 120th in putting at 29.20 putts so he is slightly below average in that aspect. The driving and putting stats may say to stay away from him, but as one of the cheapest guys available, he also allows you to spend big elsewhere. Making 6 out of his last 7 cuts gives me some confidence that he can do it again this weekend and hopefully keep the trend of top 25 finishes.
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