The AT&T Byron Nelson has taken over as the pre-PGA Championship tournament on the PGA Tour after moving the major to May. The Nelson has changed venues quite a bit over the last decade, but this will be the third year in a row it has been played at TPC Craig Ranch and the third year in a row where weather may play a factor.
While rain or thunderstorms are unpredictable, there is two years’ worth of winners data, which is helpful for first-round leader purposes, especially in a field without a lot of obvious plays. Two-time defending Byron Nelson champion K.H. Lee was great with his mid and long irons in both of his two wins and rode good form and a hot putter to his wins. This week we will target players who are trending well and showing strength in strokes gained on approach and proximity from over 200 yards.
As always, this column will use the OddsShopper’s golf betting tools to identify the best value options as well as a few numbers to include for 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson first-round leader selections.
2023 AT&T Byron Nelson First Round Leader Bets
The first seasons at TPC Craig Ranch have seen at least one morning starter in the first-round leader slot. Texas is warm in the morning again this time of year, but spring still brings plenty of building wind in the afternoon, which is exactly the forecast for the first day of the event. Calmer morning conditions should be a decent advantage on Days 1 and 2, making the early wave slightly preferable.
Min Woo Lee First Round Leader (+5000) at BetMGM
Despite not having seen Lee since the RBC Heritage (where he missed the cut), he has plenty of appeal in this weaker field. Lee is one of only a few players in this tournament ranked inside the top 50 in the OWGR that have already won a tournament as a professional. It was only a couple of months ago that Lee pushed Scottie Scheffler in the final round of the Players, where he eventually finished sixth and gained over nine strokes combined putting and around the green. This week’s venue is not nearly as technical as Hilton Head or even Augusta, which should have Lee in a much better spot to perform. He is a former winner on a windy and open course over in Scotland in 2021, and he has an early tee time this Thursday. After a few weeks off, Lee should come ready to attack this softer course and makes sense as mid-range first-round leader play.
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Stephan Jaeger First Round Leader (+5500) at DraftKings
While the morning wave looks slightly better for Thursday, it is not a bad idea to get some exposure to the afternoon wave in case winds are not that big of a deal on Day 1. Jaeger looks like a solid play regardless of the betting market and is overdue for a hot round or two with his putter. He comes in having lost strokes on the greens in 10 straight events, but he is hitting the ball better than perhaps he has his entire career. Jaeger is just two events removed from gaining 8.2 strokes against a weaker field in Mexico and finished 27th against a strong field last week despite losing over four strokes putting. He has also been a fast starter, landing a first-round hit at the Valspar, and ranks ninth in first-round scoring average. While he may not be able to sustain above-average putting for four rounds, Jaeger has the pedigree and form to start fast and get a big lead after Thursday.
2023 AT&T Byron Nelson First Round Leader Longshot Bets
Longshot bets in the first-round leader market hit all the time on the PGA Tour. You can always use OddsShopper’s tools to check out and compare odds across the major sites.
Trey Mullinax First Round Leader (+10000) at BetMGM
First Round Leader Top 5 (+1800) at BetMGM
First-round leaders have hit with long odds in each of the past two seasons at TPC Craig Ranch. With the openness of the course and much higher-than-normal greens-in-regulation percentages, it makes sense to roll with a couple of longshot plays. Trey Mullinax has gone way down in the odds everywhere after a poor West Coast swing, but he has started to break out of his slumber of late. He gained multiple strokes on approach in each of his last two starts and made a cut finally at Quail Hollow, where he also gained strokes around the green. Mullinax can go low almost everywhere and was fourth at the Houston Open over the fall and 32nd at this event last season, shooting four rounds of 69 or better. With massive odds, he is a great longshot bet and a top-5 first-round play as well.
Kevin Chappell First Round Leader (+12500) at BetMGM
First Round Leader Top 5 (+2000) at BetMGM
To add even more variance to Thursday, why not try Kevin Chappell on for size? He has shown some progressive form of late, having made the cut in five straight starts while also gaining strokes with his irons at every stop on this streak. Like Jaeger, Chappell has struggled to find consistency on the greens but is also due for a little positive regression in that area. He has played this venue before and has one of the earliest tee times on the slate. If the wind stays mild and the course stays wet, Chappell will have a chance to challenge for a top-5 or better.