CJ Cup Byron Nelson Preview: Course Breakdown, PGA DFS Model Plays & Much More

I’m not going to lie: as fun as it is to watch dominance in any sport, I’m extremely relieved for this to be a Scottie Scheffler-free week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been jamming him in PGA DFS, but the fact that I haven’t been backing his short numbers in the betting markets is a completely different story. Plus, game theory and roster construction are more fun when the eventual winner isn’t so obvious, right? Right? Don’t answer that.

Anyways, after a week off from this article due to the two-man event in Louisiana, we’re back in full force as the tour heads to Texas for the CJ Cup Byron Nelson. As always, let’s start by breaking down the course, followed by my favorite skill sets to target on this particular layout, then rounding it out with my favorite target at each salary range.

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CJ Cup Byron Nelson Preview

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The Course:

At long last, we’re back to a full-field event! 154 players will be teeing it up at TPC Craig Ranch which makes its fourth appearance on the PGA TOUR schedule. At first glance, a 7,414 yards, Par 71 layout doesn’t scream ‘birdie-fest’, but that’s exactly what it’s been in all three renditions of this tournament with the winner at 23-under-or-better each and every year. Plus, while it was a Par 72 for the first two playings of this event, the change to Par 71 in 2023 still saw every player in the Top 30 at 15-under-par-or-better.

Lindy’s Skill Set Priorities for the CJ Cup (Ranked By Importance):

  1. Strokes-Gained: Approach
  2. Driving Distance
  3. Approach Proximity From 175-200 Yards

Strokes-Gained: Approach

It's our PGA DFS picks series by looking at our CJ Cup Byron Nelson preview, picks and model choices. CJ Cup Byron Nelson DFS picks...

I was getting a little sick of writing up “Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green” every single week as the all-encompassing stat, so let’s just focus on iron play here first, shall we? Obviously no Scottie Scheffler, Shane Lowry, or Corey Conners in the field this week, but we do have Tom Hoge ($9,100) and Ryan Moore ($6,800) making appearances.

And while this is the skill set I’ll be accentuating the most due to an abundance of long par 4’s and short par 5’s that bring multiple 175-to-225 yard shots into play, I doubt I find myself on too much of either. Hoge is fresh off a Top 20 in Hilton Head (T18) but will be pulling right around 20% when all is said and done this week. Simply put, I just think we can find better plays with perhaps not equally-as-strong of approach games, but close.

In fact, let’s post the rest of the top 25 SG:APP on the PGA TOUR and get to the good stuff:

Again, tons of names here that won’t be making appearances this week, but the bottom half of this list is littered with 8k players I’ll be using in 15%+ of my lineups, starting with Aaron Rai ($8,000). He’s projected for slightly lower ownership than Hoge for substantially less, so he’s the chalk player I’m the most comfortable jamming on the slate. He was abysmal here in 2023, but will be making his third-consecutive appearance at the event and has made both cuts in Texas events in 2024 including a T7 at the Houston Open.

Next up is Mark Hubbard ($8,100) who pops across multiple categories for me this week. The iron play is obviously strong here, and he is yet to miss a cut in 2024. He looks like a high-floor, high-ceiling option when comparing his price to the rest of the field, and with the well-rounded nature of his tee-to-green game, I believe he’s a decent putting week away from serious contention here. And finally, it would appear the field has soured on Jake Knapp ($8,000), but he’s still Top 20 in SG:APP and moves it out there plenty far at 27th in driving distance on the season.

Say, let’s move onto the next skill set, shall we?

Driving Distance

Bombs away! While I’m ever-so-slightly valuing iron-precision above all this week, I really like the idea of some bomber-heavy stacks should this golf course play as soft and wet as is being forecasted. Well, that and there is very little trouble of the tee to be found anywhere, so swing away, gents.

Now, similar to SG:APP, we’re going to skip the Top 5 above because Rory McIlroy isn’t in the field and the other four lads all sit at $7,100-or-below with sub-5% ownership attached to each. You have a favorite of the bunch, go for it. But numbers 6-thru-25 on the driving distance list have some appealing options with far more well-rounded skill sets:

Min Woo Lee ($9,400) and Byeong Hun An ($9,300), Kevin Yu ($7,500) and Joseph Bramlett ($7,200) on the cheap end, I can make cases for so many of these players as potential smashes on a forgiving golf course that offers very little trouble off the tee or around-the-green resistance.

Approach Proximity From 175-200 Yards

But Eric, you already broke down strokes-gained: approach, this is cheating! Umm, no it’s not, this is an article with no rules and I really want to highlight the Par 4’s here.

Well, that and highlight the PGA DFS Sims tool, which is all over Adam Scott this week:

It's our PGA DFS picks series by looking at our CJ Cup Byron Nelson preview, picks and model choices. CJ Cup Byron Nelson DFS picks...

I’ll leave the analysis at that for now, but be sure to check out PGA Live Before Lock on Playback TV as I breakdown the entire event with a special guest!

The CJ Cup Byron Nelson DFS Picks and Model Top Plays

Below are my current top plays this week based on a heavier weighting towards the criteria above as well as ownership. All listed ranks next to the statistics are their overall rankings in that metric for the 2024 PGA TOUR season, not relative to the field.

Jason Day ($10,400)
SG: App — 152nd
Driving Distance — 59th
App 175-200 — 176th

Adam Scott ($9,600)
SG: App — 79th
Driving Distance — 64th
App 175-200 — 2nd

Aaron Rai ($8,000)
SG: App — 23rd
Driving Distance — 145th
App 175-200 — 12th

Taylor Pendrith ($7,400)
SG: App — 123rd
Driving Distance — 12th
App 175-200 — 30th

Nick Hardy ($6,900)
SG: App — 122nd
Driving Distance — 68th
App 175-200 — 18h

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Eric Lindquist hails from Sioux Falls, South Dakota (yes, that’s the one with Mount Rushmore). A steady diet of three SportsCenters a day at an early age led to his obsession with sports, one that 30 years later is paying dividends for him as a successful DFS player and sports bettor. Despite over half a million dollars in net career earnings, he’s most passionate about helping others achieve their financial goals, an energy you can witness on the daily in his current role as a host and analyst at Stokastic. He’s a former Division I golfer at Iowa State, wishes he was a former Minnesota sports fan, and is a proud father to a 100-pound Bernese Mountain dog named Duke that wishes he could just eat people food instead of the crap he and his wife feed him on the daily.

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