AT&T Byron Nelson: Louis can strike it big in Texas

Louis Oosthuizen looks ready to win
Louis Oosthuizen looks ready to win

Dave Tindall is back with his analysis and tips for this week's PGA Tour event - the AT&T Byron Nelson in Texas...

"The South African was top 10 for greens in regulation at both Sawgrass and Augusta National and also in the top three for GIR in Perth, the WGC-Cadillac (T14) and the Valspar (T7) so he's really dialled in with his irons right now."

Main bet: Back Louis Oosthuizen @ 29.028/1

Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 5 places


Main bet: Back Louis Oosthuizen e/w @ 28/1

There is no magic recipe for success at the Byron Nelson but I'm mainly looking for players who give it a good thump off the tee and handle windy conditions.

Steven Bowditch was ninth for Driving Distance last year and, as an Aussie, was comfortable when it got a little gusty. Keegan Bradley, the 2011 winner, was 7th for DD when he took victory and also 2nd for DD when runner-up in 2013. Sang-Moon Bae won that year and tonked it 308.6 yards to be 14th in DD.

Dustin Johnson is the standout name when looking for a big hitter who can thrive in the winds and I really do think he has a massive chance. Those skills have helped him finish in the top eight here in four of his last five visits (the other was T20) and he has a bunch of good recent form.

DJ appeals much more than tournament favourite Jordan Spieth (MC at Sawgrass and not a single top 15 here in five attempts) but the 8/1 really does look cramped. Since 2013, he's only won once on the PGA Tour and that's not enough to be backing him at these sort of prices even though I think he'll make the top five.

So let's turn to a man who hits it long, grew up playing in the wind and has a victory to his name in 2016, albeit on the European Tour.

Louis Oosthuizen racked up his eighth European Tour win when landing the Perth International in Australia at the end of February and now it's time he repeated the feat on American soil.

He's overdue having never done so (his one PGA Tour win was the Open Championship in Scotland) and, obviously, there have been some near misses.

The most famous was his Masters play-off loss to Bubba Watson in 2012 while he also had a good chance in this event on his last visit in 2014.

Oosthuizen was the 54-hole leader after a superb 64 in the third round but he wobbled on Sunday and slid all the way back down to T11 after a 74.

However, as a punter, I prefer that it was achieved after being bang in contention rather than being a nearest-the-finish T11 so this is a tournament where he can thrive.

As for latest form, he's coming in off a T28 at Sawgrass and that was his second best finish at The Players Championship (four of his other finishes there were 69-MC-MC-MC).

That was his first appearance since at T15 at Augusta National while just two starts earlier he was runner-up in the WGC-Dell Match Play, an event also played in Texas.

The South African was top 10 for greens in regulation at both Sawgrass and Augusta National and also in the top three for GIR in Perth, the WGC-Cadillac (T14) and the Valspar (T7) so he's really dialled in with his irons right now.

The TPC Four Seasons is usually voted as one of the least popular on Tour but Oosthuizen said a couple of years ago: "I love the golf course. It's a golf course I can see myself playing well, you know, scoring well on. It's a course I feel comfortable on."

After being injured so often over the last few seasons, Oosthuizen has a clean bill of health again and everything looks good for him to add to an already impressive 2016 with a victory here.

The 28/1 looks reasonable in a modest field.


Next best: Back Scott Piercy e/w @ 66/1

Piercy battled 20mph winds to finish fifth here in 2013 and he sits 26th in Driving Distance this year so, combining those elements, he's immediately on my shortlist here.

He really starts to appeal when you look at his end-of-round positions in this tournament.

From 2011-2013 Piercy was a regular leaderboard presence in this event, ending the opening day inside the top 10 in all three years and also lying 4th, 8th and 8th respectively after 54 holes.

He shot 66s in round one on all three occasions so that should alert R1 backers this week.

The fact that he only managed a single top 10 (fifth in 2014) from those three efforts is a tad disappointing but, again, I like the fact that he's been in contention in this event rather than added some slightly fake gloss to his finishes with very low final rounds.

Texas has been a good location for him and in his last 12 events in the Lone Star state he's racked up nine finishes of T26 or better. That includes a T19 in Houston on his last visit, an event where he was T10 the year before.

His current form is of a similar ilk with eight top 25s this season.

A latest thermometer check shows a T23 at Sawgrass and a T29 at Augusta National but both those need context.

Piercy had missed his last four cuts at The Players Championship while T29 was his best finish in The Masters following a T54 on his only other appearance three years earlier. Some solid play in those two marquee events should set him up nicely here and the 66/1 looks generous for the three-time PGA Tour winner.

One final comment...a tweet doing the rounds this week is one that Piercy put up during a recent Q&A. Asked which tournament he was going to win this year, he replied "Byron Nelson".

There was no further detail and it isn't the reason why I like him this week but let's just say it's no bad thing to see him say that.

The other one at 66s who caught my attention was Bryce Molder.

Current form is the main reason for that as the 37-year-old has finished T12 at Sawgrass, T8 at New Orleans and T6 at Hilton Head in three of his last four starts.

He's got three top 25s at the Byron Nelson including T22 last year when shooting 69-67-65-68 so his chances are well advertised.


Local angle: Back Danny Lee e/w @ 50/1

It emerged last year that shock winner Steven Bowditch actually married wife Amanda on the 18th green at TPC Four Seasons.

So, how about taking the local angle again this week and backing Danny Lee?

The Korean-born Kiwi has been a member at TPC Four Seasons since moving to the area in 2007 and lives just minutes from the course.

Naturally, we've seen this sort of thing many times before and it hasn't worked out but I want to keep on the right side of Lee this year after his excellent finish to 2015 and I also put him up a couple of weeks ago.

This was always going to be the next obvious place to back him and he certainly did well in his first two tries in this event when T13 in 2009 as a teenager and T19 in 2012.

He missed the cut in 2014 but shout four rounds in the 60s again last year when T34. That included a hole-in-one at the 190-yard 17th in Thursday's opening round.

Speaking after that ace, Lee said: "Was definitely a home-course advantage, I guess, and I'm just really blessed I was able to make hole-in-one in front of all my friends and fans out there. I also made an eagle on hole No. 7, the par 5. It was a fun day today.

"I play quite a bit on this golf course and probably I know how many trees out there on the whole golf course."

Lee has only produced his best golf in patches so far but did finish fourth in the Waste Management Phoenix Open and was prominent for 36 holes at The Masters before slipping back to a still creditable T17.

More recently, he closed with a 67 to finish T9 in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow and was T11 going into the final round of The Players Championship (his Saturday 72 was a particularly gutsy effort in such difficult conditions) before falling to T35 after a poor closing round.

But there are certainly plenty of good signs in there and 50/1 in a pretty thin field could look very good business indeed.

Others that were in my crosshairs this week included 80/1 Russell Henley (great record in Texas) and 150/1 Jon Curran (T6 here last year).

Ryan Palmer at 40/1 could also be a decent play after his top 25 at Sawgrass followed a fourth place in the Texas Open. His four-year form here reads 10-22-33-9-2 but his lack of a PGA Tour win since 2010 is enough to stop me pulling the trigger.

My three picks - Oosthuizen, Piercy and Lee - have all posted a win inside the last 10 months.

You can read my colleague Steve Rawlings Byron Nelson Championship 2016 Guide & Betting Preview behind the link.

Dave's 2016 P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £580
Returned: £634.5
P/L: +£54.5

(After The Players Championship)

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