The betting market for the Byron Nelson tournament is dominated by three players who have all won major championships over the last three seasons. However, there are valid reasons to oppose Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia and focus on players at bigger prices. The event in its different guises has been played solely at the TPC at Four Seasons in Texas since 2008 so there is plenty of course form which is a key factor in identifying potential winners of golf tournaments.
The comparison between the prize money on offer and quality of the respective fields on the PGA and European Tours is again highlighted this week. The Portugal Open was little more than a Challenger Tour event and went up against the Players Championship last week. The Rocco Forte Open in Sicily is not much better but will provide Nicolas Colsaerts with a chance to win on the European Tour for the first time since 2012 when he played in the Ryder Cup.
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The Byron Nelson event is titled after the golfer of that name. The player does not quite have the kudos of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer who have given their names to Tour events but Byron Nelson once won 11 tournaments in succession which is one sporting achievement that will never be beaten. In 1945 in total he won 18 out 35 tournaments and any golfer that wins twice in the same year in the modern era has achieved something special. That level of dominance will never be repeated as equipment and fitness regimes have created more of a level playing field.
Johnson won three times in as many outings earlier this season and went into the Masters as the clear favourite. In fact he didn’t hit a shot because he suffered a freak injury in Masters week and withdrew on the first tee as he was about to start the first round. The Players top 12 finish last week was a great effort as he has a poor overall record at TPC Sawgrass. However, Four Seasons is not an ideal fit for his game and the odds are much too short for a wager.
The event used to be played over two courses in Irving but became a one-site event in 2008. TPC at Four Seasons is a tree-lined, par 70 track over 7,166 yards with two reachable par 5s. The course puts a premium on accuracy from tee to green but this is balanced by large, undulating bentgrass greens which yield plenty of birdies. As with all tournaments played in Texas the wind is often a significant factor. Johnson is good enough to win in any conditions but he will have better opportunities than in Texas this week.
Jordan Spieth has not quite recovered from wasting a great chance of winning a second US Masters last season. Sergio Garcia is the defending champion and two times winner but he might not be back on his game after the celebrating his win in this year’s Masters. He can be forgiven some lacklustre golf after winning his first major after years of disappointment. In any case the two players closest in the betting to Johnson are others to avoid. Golf Rater has identified three players at bigger prices with the game and form to contend this week.
In 2012 Nicolas Colsaerts was seen as one of the bright new talents in European golf. He found some focus after a few years of not reaching his potential and had a great Ryder Cup. He played more golf in the States but things didn’t quite work out. This week’s Rocco Forte tournament provides a chance for the Belgian to get his career back on track on a course where he has played well in the past. The seaside course measures 7,350 yards and is a good fit for Colsaerts’s game and he can win again this week.
The focus for the better players is now the US Open in four weeks. Johnson, Spieth and Garcia will be prominent in the betting for the second major of the season but they are ignored this week for various reasons and the banker bet is Colsaerts on the European Tour.
Back next Thursday.
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