This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
AT&T BYRON NELSON
Winner's Share: $1.422M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Course: Trinity Forest Golf Club
2018 champion: Aaron Wise
We had never seen Trinity Forest Golf Club before last year. What we now know is that it's almost impossible to miss a fairway, resulting in the second biggest birdie-fest of last season. Expect more of the same this time around. And like last year, don't expect many good players – although this year is a big improvement, relatively speaking. Last year, there were only seven golfers in the top-50 in the world on hand. This year, there are 14 – and half of them are from Nos. 40-50. Still awful. We probably can attribute the "bump" to the Byron Nelson now being positioned as the lead-in to the PGA Championship. Still, the tournament that bears the name of one of the signature players in PGA Tour history is saddled with one of the weakest fields of the season.
Brooks Koepka is the lone member of the top-10 OWGR, and Patrick Reed and Marc Leishman complete the entire representation from the top-25. Of course, there's another player now outside the top-25, and dropping, but he's the biggest name of them all: Dallas native and Trinity Forest member Jordan Spieth, now down to No. 39. Interestingly, nine of the 14 top-50s are internationals. There's also Hideki Matsuyama, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Lucas Bjerregaard, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Harding, Branden Grace,Charles Howell III and Kevin Na. The opposite end of the field features almost all the 50 Web.com grads, numerous major medical exemptions and some of last season's 126-150 guys before dropping all the way down to ... Tony Romo! Wait, what? Yes, he's back, and it's not in the opposite-field event in the Dominican Republic, at which he's missed the cut, really badly, the past two years. Romo is a Trinity Forest member, but we can think of 155 guys we'd put in our lineup before him.
Back to the course, which was the tournament home for the first time last year after years at TPC Four Seasons. The first thing to know about Trinity Forest is that it's not in a forest; in fact, there are zero trees (in play), and no water either. If that sounds like a links course to you, it sort of is. Trinity opened just three years ago and was co-designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, who likens it to Pinehurst No. 2 (site of the 2014 U.S. Open). Spieth compares it to Royal Birkdale, a links course where you play the ball more in the air and where he won the Open Championship in 2017. Interestingly, it was built on a landfill, and therefore no digging was allowed. They had to build "up," and what emerged were a lot of bumps and hills and tall native grasses on wide-open spaces. The greens have undulations that repel the ball into collection areas and run-offs. The signature of the course is probably not a hole but a green – a double green for the 3rd and 11th holes that organizers say could be the largest in North America. It clocks in at about 35,000 square feet and is about 100 yards long – not feet, yards. Yes, the length of a football field. And it will come into play not once, but twice. Golfers, just take your quadruple-putt and head to the next tee.
Last year, the driving-accuracy and greens-in-regulation numbers were off-the-charts high. We'll provide the numbers in the Champions Profile below. Since last year, they added almost 200 yards to the course, from 7,380 to 7,554. It's hard to envision that making much of a difference. The 2018 tournament was a complete joke ... um ... er ... we mean birdie-fest. Trinity Forest was the seventh easiest track on Tour last year. There were nearly 2,000 total birdies/eagles, second most on the Tour. Only Glen Abbey for the RBC Canadian Open saw more, and we're pretty sure that's simply because of the unfavorable exchange rate of the Canadian dollar (we have no idea what that means, disregard).
Weather-wise, a big rain is in the forecast for Wednesday, along with morning showers on Friday and more rain on Saturday. That may keep the ball from running as far in the fairway as it did last year. Otherwise, temperatures will be in the low- to mid-70s. Right now, the wind is expected to be fairly light, but of course it could whip up pretty strong in Texas.
Key Stats to Winning at Trinity Forest (in order of importance)
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Driving distance/strokes gained: off the tee
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: tee to green
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green
• Putting average/strokes gained putting
2018 - Aaron Wise (Trinity Forest)
2017 - Billy Horschel (TPC Four Seasons)
2016 - Sergio Garcia (TPC Four Seasons)
2015 - Steven Bowditch (TPC Four Seasons)
2014 - Brendon Todd (TPC Four Seasons)
2013 - Sangmoon Bae (TPC Four Seasons)
2012 - Jason Dufner (TPC Four Seasons)
2011 - Keegan Bradley (TPC Four Seasons)
2010 - Jason Day (TPC Four Seasons)
2009 - Rory Sabbatini (TPC Four Seasons)
The field average for driving accuracy last year was almost 80 percent, and a handful of golfers exceeded 90 percent. By comparison, the Tour leader in driving accuracy this season is at about 75 percent. That's the same for the Tour leader in greens in regulation – about 75 percent. Wise, who won his first PGA Tour event here a year ago, led the field at an astounding 91 percent in GIR. He won at 23-under, with four rounds in the 60s. Among the first 15 guys on the leaderboard, no one had more than one round in the 70s. So, whoever wins will obviously need to go low. This course reminds us of the two Hawaii courses – wide, wide open where you can just let fly. Check who did well there.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Brooks Koepka - $11,400 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 13-2)
We know all about Koepka's record in majors vs. non-majors. And it's a real thing. But this track should be in his wheelhouse. He wasn't here a year ago, but he did tie for sixth in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a track that Jordan Spieth compares to Trinity Forest.
Hideki Matsuyama - $11,000 (16-1)
Matsuyama is 12-for-12 in cuts this season, with seven top-25s. But he hasn't really come close to contending for a title. That should happen this week. He finished 16th here a year ago while on the rebound from a wrist injury. He's among the longest hitters on Tour, but has terrible accuracy off the tee. That should correct itself just by being at generously wide Trinity Forest. As always, the difference between winning and coming close for Matsuyama will come down to putting.
Marc Leishman - $10,000 (25-1)
Leishman is coming up on two months without a great finish. We all like to take snapshots like that, and they aren't often fully accurate. Leishman was runner-up here a year ago, finished top-5 at both Hawaii tournaments back in January and, of course, is one of the top golfers in this watered-down field. Last year, Leishman navigated these new greens better than anyone else – he led the field in strokes gained: putting. He also tied for sixth at Royal Birkdale in the 2017 Open Championship.
Aaron Wise - $9,400 (20-1)
Wise has been a huge disappointment to his backers this season. But he did win here last year, and that counts for something. He also arrives having put together very good back-to-back results: top-20s at both the Masters and Wells Fargo. It can be pressure-filled for a first-time winner to return the next year with new expectations. The wide fairways should help take some of the edge off for Wise. Last year, he hit more than 80 percent of the fairways and 90 percent of the greens. That's insane.
Tier 2 Values
Keith Mitchell - $9,100 (30-1)
Mitchell tied for third here a year ago, closing with a 63 to soar up the leaderboard. He's a far better player now. Like Matsuyama, he's a long hitter with accuracy issues; again, those should be mitigated this week. Mitchell has shown the ability to play well at courses where birdies are scarce and where birdies are plentiful. He tied for 16th at the Sony back in January.
Ryan Moore - $8,800 (40-1)
Since missing a third straight cut at Phoenix three months ago, Moore has been playing some good golf. None more so than when he tied for third at what turned out to be another birdie-fest in Texas: the Valero Texas Open. Moore is among the more accurate golfers on Tour tee to green, so that strength will be somewhat neutralized this week. But he's also among the top putters in the field.
Lucas Bjerregaard - $8,700 (60-1)
The big Dane is another guy who hits the ball far but not straight. After playing six weeks out of eight ending with the Masters, Bjerregaard has been idle and will be rested. He tied for 21st at Augusta.
Rafa Cabrera Bello - $8,600 (40-1)
Cabrera Bello has missed only one cut in 12 starts, with eight top-25s, and in fields far superior to this one. The Spaniard is not long off the tee and, while that is a disadvantage, we did see some shorter hitters do well here a year ago. He's not an elite putter or scrambler, but in this field he is. And going by the OWGR, he's the No. 5 guy in the tournament.
Tier 3 Values
Russell Knox - $8,000 (60-1)
Knox has missed only two cuts all season, one of them back in October. He's longer off the tee than many of us might think, and that helped him to tie for 16th here a year ago. Knox is ranked 33rd on Tour in strokes gained: tee to green.
Pat Perez - $7,700 (50-1)
After missing two months with an Achilles injury, Perez returned last week and tied for eighth at the Wells Fargo. He surely could be drained this week, or he could e invigorated. Perez is sixth on Tour in strokes gained: putting.
Kyoung-Hoon Lee - $7,500 (80-1)
After missing the cut at Pebble three months ago, Lee has made seven straight (excluding the Zurich and a WD at the Valspar). He tied for seventh at the Honda and for 14th at the Valero. Lee does not hit the ball far off the tee, but that hasn't stopped him from ranking top-50 on Tour in greens in regulation.
Brian Stuard - $7,400 (80-1)
The 36-year-old Stuard is quietly on a pretty good run. He's finished top-20 in four of his past six starts (excluding the Zurich), including a tie for fourth at the Valero. He is among the shortest hitters on Tour, but that didn't stop him from making the cut and tying for 42nd here a year ago. Stuard is ranked in the top-50 on Tour in strokes gained: approach, around the green and putting.
Ollie Schniederjans - $7,200 (100-1)
Schniederjans has been having a horrible season. But we're gonna try to spin it so there's a slight glimmer. Since tying for 16th at THE PLAYERS – and how the heck did he finish 16th at Sawgrass? – he's made 3-of-4 cuts. We're excluding his DQ from the RBC Heritage and MC at the Zurich, because it's a team event. Okay, so 3-of-4, with a tie for 36th at the Valero and for 28th last week at the Wells Fargo. Schniederjans is another one of those guys with really long but inaccurate drives. Unlike some of those golfers, he's a pretty good putter.
Nick Taylor - $7,000 (100-1)
The Canadian has made eight straights (excluding the Zurich) – and he, too, somehow tied for 16th at THE PLAYERS. He also tied for 32nd here a year ago. Taylor is ranked 101st in strokes gained: tee to green, which isn't bad this week, and 46th in SG putting, which is really good this week.
Adam Schenk - $7,000 (100-1)
Yep, him again. And why not? Still making cuts, still playing well – T13 at the Wells Fargo last week, T7 at the Valero last month – and still getting low-balled by the DK pricing committee. Schenk made the cut here a year ago, tying for 59th. He's ranked 31st on Tour in strokes gained: approach and 27th in SG putting.
Hank Lebioda - $6,700 (Field 11-2)
The 25-year-old rookie got off to a rocky start but now hasn't missed a cut since February. Lebioda is ranked a very impressive 40th in strokes gained: tee to green. If you're thinking, "That must mean he's a horrible putter," you're right, he is. Lebioda tied for 17th at the Valero last month.