Hello hello, welcome back to Faves & Fades for the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson. Before I get into it this week, I have to broach a little housekeeping item. I will probably be sunsetting the Faves & Fades articles going forward after this week. Since the Sentry Tournament of Champions the first week of January this year, I have released four articles every week: Tournament Preview, Bombs & Values, Faves & Fades, and Final Thoughts. As the site has evolved over time, I’ve started to feel that this article in particular isn’t offering a ton of ground breaking insights. My Faves are 3 guys at the top of the leaderboard, my Fades are over-owned, chalk players that I think have a path to not win. So after thinking on this for a couple weeks, I have an idea for a new weekly article I’ll be rolling out to replace Faves & Fades starting with the PGA next week, and I’m really excited about it.
A glaring hole in my content week to week is the absence of any prop takes. There are SO many props in golf across so many different books. We have Matchups, T5/10/20/30/40 Placements, Make/Miss The Cut, Hole In Ones, Winning Score Margin, Top Nationality Finisher, Top College Finisher, etc, etc. So every Wednesday morning going forward, I will release a write up of my 5 favorite props with all the research and rationale you’d come to expect here week to week. The final thing I need however, before I can roll this out, is a good name for the Prop article. I have some thought starters. As you can see, they’re all terrible, so if you have something better in mind, please let me know!
- Gotta Give Props
- What’s Proppin’?
- Prop Lock & Drop It
- The Prop Drop
Okay folks, let’s all pour one out for Faves & Fades, and wish them a nice early retirement. For one last time, let’s get into it!
Daniel Berger (+1700, $10,100)
Sentimentally speaking, DB Strait Vibin will always be a Fave in my heart. He delivered the first Outright cash in thepgatout.com history at the AT&T Pro-Am, and he stacks up very well to complete the highly sought after AT&T Slam this time again at the Byron Nelson. Let’s not forget Berger has never lost an AT&T-sponsored event in which Dustin Johnson WD’d the Monday before.
He’s a complete player all around, and priced appropriately, ranking Top 10 in the field T2G, BS, OTT, and APP. He’s 16th SG: P over the last 36 rounds and that number improves to 10th SG: P on Bent grass, which we’ve seldom seen over recent months. The last time we saw Berger on Texas Bent grass, he won the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge. The odds are too rich for my blood, but as the #1 player in my model this week, I’ll be going to Berger in OAD and DFS.
Matt Fitzpatrick (+2100, $9,500)
If this is the Birdie Fest, Putting Contest everyone is making it out to be, it would seem prudent to take the #1 player SG: P over the last 36 rounds. Fitzpatrick is in arguably the hottest form of his career to start 2021, with 5 T11-or-better finishes in his first 6 events. People also tend to forget that he closed out his 2020 season with a win on the Euro Tour at the DP World Tour Championship, so while he has a reputation for never winning on the PGA Tour, it’s not to say he can’t win a tournament versus a decently formidable field.
Fitzpatrick ranks 9th SG: OTT over the last 36 rounds, which admittedly can be a bit misleading for this week when we consider that is skewed by his rank of 11th in Driving Accuracy compared to 103rd in Driving Distance. Fitzpatrick has been steadily working to improve his Driving Distance week over week however, and the rolling reports on Fantasy National show that from 24 rounds ago to his last start, he’s already jumped from 112th to 56th in Driving Distance. Fitzpatrick has been a steady performer week over week, regardless of the length of course, so I expect him to have another strong showing at TPC Craig Ranch with the aid of the hottest putter on Tour at the moment.
Will Zalatoris (+2100, $9,700)
I am a Will Zalatoris fan, which means when he gets knocked down (even if he is the one knocking himself down), I’m going to be here to pick the man back up. Should he have missed the cut at Quail Hollow last week? No absolutely not, there were about 7 different stat indicators last week that would suggest he was more likely to win at Wells Fargo than to miss the cut. Rather than diving deep into exactly what went wrong at Wells Fargo, I choose to assume Zalatoris was just so excited to get back to his hometown Dallas area, sleep in his own bed, and dominate a track he’s already played dozens of times in his life, that he couldn’t be bothered to spend the weekend at Quail Hollow.
So all of the reasons I loved Zalatoris last week remain true a week later at the Byron Nelson, as both courses are 7,400+ yards. Zal is 5th in SG: TOT, 5th T2G, 2nd APP, and 7th BS. He’s also 24th in Driving Distance, which as we all know, should be a difference maker this week and help get to Par 5s in two for Eagle opportunities. I’m not going to let one down week cause me to fade the Runner Up at the 2021 Masters at this price, and am hoping last week’s disappointment only leads to higher returns now with the price discount.
Jordan Spieth (+1100, $10,700)
I was shocked to pull up the Fantasy National ownership projections and see Jordan Spieth with the second highest projected usage this week. Spieth has not played for over a month since the Masters, so a stop over in hometown Dallas feels like a quintessential tune-up spot before the PGA Championship, understanding a player of his caliber is not going to go a month and a half with no reps before going into a Major.
We also learned in the media rounds this week that the cause for Spieth’s longer than usual hiatus was actually due to a positive COVID test. COVID effects every single player on tour differently, but there are far more cases of players returning sluggishly than there are of players returning better with the time away. At this premium price and ownership, I think the PGA look-ahead and COVID recovery are more than enough reasons to fade.
Ryan Palmer (+4000, $9,100)
On the one hand, it’s not a bad idea to back the TPC Craig Ranch course record holder and lifelong native of Dallas, Texas. On the other hand, that has absolutely already been factored into the 40/1, $9,100 price tag for a guy who has proven to be nothing quite more than a solid, above average PGA Tour pro in 2021, and one who has still not won a Stroke Play event since 2010.
Palmer’s experience and familiarity at this course, which a majority of the field will be seeing for the first time, is undoubtedly an advantage. But, from everything we’ve heard this week about TPC Craig Ranch, this is not a course that throws many surprises your way. The course is all right in front of you, and unlike most courses on the PGA Tour circuit, it doesn’t seem like there are many holes where players need to “miss in the right places.” If winds stay down, players will be firing at pin after pin, which would seem to take away from Palmer’s home turf advantage appeal.
Doug Ghim (+7000, $7,500)
I have already seen Doug Ghim succumb to the pressure of a big moment at THE PLAYERS, and while a Byron Nelson birdie fest is a far cry from the limelight of a penultimate Sunday pairing with Justin Thomas at golf’s 5th Major, playing at a stadium tournament course in front of friends, family, and 10,000 patrons can be a lot to handle. At $7,600, Ghim is projected to be the 4th highest owned player this week on Draft Kings at 19%, and may be the only player at 70/1 this week I’m not betting on.
Ghim has been a T2G machine over the last 24 rounds ranking, 4th in the field in that category to go along with ranks of 3rd in SG: APP and 4th SG: BS. Unfortunately the putting has been consistently abysmal, ranking 141st in this field SG: P over the same span, losing strokes to the field in each of his last 6 events. If this is the putting contest it’s made out to be, leveling the playing field T2G, I’ll be looking elsewhere for players I can trust to convert birdies throughout the week.