AT&T Byron Nelson Power Rankings
In another exciting weekend on the PGA Tour, Max Homa broke through for his first victory ever. There is so much immense talent on tour these days, and we have been surprised time and time again in recent years with rookies and Web.com Tour players stepping up and seizing their chance to make history. In a week where Rory McIlroy was a heavy favorite, Homa plotted along and made few mistakes, eventually beating Joel Dahmen by three strokes on a rainy Sunday in Charlotte.
We now go to Dallas for the AT&T Byron Nelson, which is played at Trinity Forest Golf Club, a par-71 Core/Crenshaw design. The players tore this course apart last year. No different is expected this year, as the weather looks dry until potential scattered storms on Saturday. This is the last chance for players to shake off any rust before next week’s PGA Championship, but as the field indicates, most of the major names have elected to take this week off to prepare for Bethpage Black.
10. Jordan Spieth
Spieth makes this list based on name recognition, reputation, and class for the third time this season. He has yet to live up to expectations. The 25-year-old will get to sleep in his own bed this week, as we go back to the site where he made his PGA Tour debut as a teenager. He has yet to match or beat his T16 from 2010, and it has traditionally appeared to be one of those weeks where he has had a hard time balancing friends, family, and playing in a PGA Tour event. This season has been a disaster for Spieth and I don’t have too much faith that it will improve, but if a recovery is going to start anywhere, it could be this week at home in Dallas. Proceed with extreme caution.
9. Sungjae Im
It’s just a matter of time before the incredibly talented South Korean breaks through, and you don’t want to miss out when he does. With fellow rookies Adam Long, Cameron Champ, and Martin Trainer having already won on tour this season, it has been another phenomenal year for rookies. Im is widely considered to be the most talented of this year’s rookie class after finishing first on the Web.com Tour last season. With five top-10 finishes so far this season and over $1.8 million in earnings, he is the highest-ranked player in the rookie ranking (fourth) without a win. He has shown balance throughout the bag, ranking 25th in Scoring Average, 26th in Birdie Average, 23rd in Shots Gained (SG): Tee-to-Green, and 24th in SG: Total. He hasn’t played Trinity Forest before, but Im has already shown he can adjust to a new course each week.
8. Patrick Reed
Reed makes this list against my better judgment based purely on pedigree during a week where he is the field’s second-highest ranked player. Despite a slow start to 2018-19, he is still playing well enough to rank 62nd in the FedExCup and has close to $1 million in prize money on the young season. He will be looking to sharpen his knife in advance of next week’s PGA Championship, where he’ll try to get back in the picture as a reoccurring factor in major championships. His best finish in Dallas is a T20 in 2017; he will look to improve on that this week at Trinity Forest.
7. Keith Mitchell
Let the good times roll for the recently coronated PGA Tour winner, who has been playing as if a weight was lifted off his shoulders ever since breaking through. Mitchell enters the week playing with house money, coming in ranked 21st in the FedExCup with a cool $2.23 million in the bank already on the season. A T8 last week at the Wells Fargo Championship was his second top-10 finish since hoisting at the Honda Classic. Things look even better for the Georgia Bulldog when you see that he tied for third place here last year and lights up the stats that traditionally click at the Byron Nelson. He is 25th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 11th in SG: Off-the-Tee, and 38th in SG: Approach-the-Green. Mitchell struggles with the putter from time to time, but he appears to have it dialed in at the moment. A great complementary piece to your lineup in a lighter week.
6. Aaron Wise
Defending his first ever PGA Tour title this week in Dallas, Wise had a bit of a slow start to 2018-19 before coming on lately with top 20s in his last two events (The Masters, Wells Fargo). He will learn a lot this week about how to manage his time and still prepare for a tournament. The responsibilities of a defending champ can be overwhelming, so it will be important to watch how he starts on Thursday. The stats support a young player who is finding his way on the PGA Tour. He is sixth in Birdie Average and 19th in SG: Off-The-Tee, and yet 192nd in the critical SG: Putting at -.171 on the year. Given what we have seen lately, Wise is grooving headed into what should be a feel-good week for the sophomore. Could he be the second player this season to successfully defend?
5. Branden Grace
The PGA Tour veteran has quietly put together yet another solid year. He’s fresh off a T32 in the team play event in New Orleans with South African teammate Justin Harding, where they faded significantly on Sunday. Grace has two top 10s to his credit on the year, which includes his second-place finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. But the confidence surrounding Grace this week is primarily based on his third-place finish here last year. That high outcome on a course similar to TPC Scottsdale provides good analytics for Grace headed into Dallas this week.
4. Henrik Stenson
The veteran has found his stride recently and is starting to resemble the weekly danger he was a short time ago. With four top 28s in his last five events, gamers are beginning to trust the Swede again. Stenson plays a lighter schedule, so his stats are a bit skewed, but his top rank in SG: Approach-the-Green jumps off the page. That could very well be the most important statistic headed into this week in Dallas. Look for him to keep showing steady form in advance to the PGA Championship.
3. Hideki Matsuyama
Matsuyama struggled to find his stride last week in Charlotte and will give it another go this week in advance of the PGA Championship. The Japanese sensation has been consistent this year with three top-10 finishes, and yet he is perhaps not quite living up to what we have come to expect from the immensely talented iron player. He has one of the longest missed cuts streaks going, as he hasn’t missed a weekend since July of last season. He has one appearance here, and it was a T16 last season. The stats monster is third in SG: Tee-to-Green, 11th in SG: Total, 15th in SG: Around the Green, and sixth in SG: Approach the Green. Wondering why someone with those numbers is only 43rd in the FedExCup? The putter. Matsuyama has always struggled with the flat stick. This year is no different, as he enters the week 177th in SG: Putting at -.373. If it were not for this club, he would likely be a multi-major champion as well as a perennial top-10 player. Here’s to hoping this is the week he can putt average because when he does, look out.
2. Marc Leishman
The Aussie hasn’t made one of his patented runs yet this season, but Leishman remains consistent as ever, coming into this week ranked 13th in the FedExCup. He loves it here, too, with seven top-13 finishes dating back to 2009. This is somewhat of a no-brainer pick in a week where there are only three players ranked inside the top 22 in the world, and he is the only one with significant knowledge of the course. He ranks 16th in SG: Approach-the-Green, 36th in Greens in Regulation Percentage, and 39th in SG: Total. In fact, his highest ranking on PGATOUR.com is actually his FedExCup ranking. Use with the utmost confidence in a weaker field.
1. Brooks Koepka
Far and away the class of this week’s field in Dallas, Koepka will tee up this week as the only player ranked inside the top 10 in the OWGR. While fellow elite golfers are off preparing for next week’s PGA Championship, the No. 3-ranked player in the world will elect to tune up before heading to Bethpage Black. With a win and two second-place finishes already this year, Koepka has been his usual self — crashing leaderboards one week and struggling the next. He is too talented to be ignored and is a must-start in any week-to-week league lineups. DFS players that feel he may be looking ahead will elect to fade him, but let’s not forget he finished second here in 2016. Lastly, Brandel Chamblee had a recent podcast in which he declared Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson the two biggest threats to Tiger Woods. Koepka’s response via Twitter indicated that not only did he feel slighted, but that Brandel looks pretty good as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.