CJ Cup Byron Nelson betting guide: 5 picks our expert loves this week

Alex Noren of Sweden plays his tee shot on the 2nd hole during the third round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio on April 06, 2024 in San Antonio, Texas.

Our expert likes Alex Noren's chances this week.

Getty Images

Welcome to our weekly PGA Tour gambling-tips column, featuring picks from GOLF.com’s expert prognosticator Brady Kannon. A seasoned golf bettor and commentator, Kannon is a regular guest on SportsGrid, a syndicated audio network devoted to sports and sport betting. You can follow on Twitter at @LasVegasGolfer, and you can read his picks below for the CJ Cup Byron Nelson, which gets underway Thursday in McKinney, Texas. Along with Kannon’s recommended plays, you’ll also see data from Chirp, a free-to-play mobile platform that features a range of games with enticing prizes, giving fans all kinds of ways to engage in the action without risking any money.

For the fourth straight year, the CJ Cup Byron Nelson will be contested at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, just about a half-hour north of Dallas. If history holds true, we are in for a birdie-fest this week as the average score of the three prior editions of this tournament has been better than 24-under par.

It looks like weather will be a factor too. Rain and scattered thunderstorms are in the forecast for each day of the event. It appears Thursday and Sunday will also be affected by wind. While moisture and possible electricity in the air could cause delays, any significant amount of rain could potentially soften up this golf course and make scoring even easier.

Weather delays are nearly impossible to predict which in turn makes it very difficult to spot a potential draw bias this week — that is, if either the early-late or late-early start times will catch an advantage. Thus, I have played it straight, handicapping the golf course and the field with all things being equal.

TPC Craig Ranch is a par-71 Tom Weiskopf design that stretches to over 7,400 yards. It features very wide fairways with very little rough and large bentgrass greens. Driving distance is not necessarily required this week but it is more important than driving accuracy, in my opinion. Long approach play will be a factor, as will making the most of the golf course’s long par 4s, and taking advantage of the three par 5s. With another birdie-fest being the expectation, I have also looked at players who excel in making birdies and players who putt at a high level.

C.T. Pan hits shot during 2024 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass
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Golf courses making the list this week that feature very similar layouts and thus require similar skill sets for success are Port Royal Golf Club (where they play the Bermuda Championship), Memorial Park in Houston, TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, and Detroit Golf Club, where they hold the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Note that wind is also a typically present weather factor in Bermuda, Las Vegas, and Houston.

In returning to a standard stroke-play format this week, we will also return to playing our selections for both an outright win and a top-20 finish.

Alex Noren (25-1)

Noren has yet to miss a cut in 2024 and, along the way, has racked up six top-25 finishes. He is No. 1 this week on the correlated courses, having collected top-5 finishes at each venue, including a runner-up finish at Port Royal. Over the last 36 rounds, he ranks 17th in this field for both SG: Approach and SG: Putting (bentgrass). He also ranks sixth on Par 4s measuring between 450-500 yards and is eighth for SG: Par 5s. On top of all this, Noren is a very good wind player.

Byeong Hun An (30-1)

An is my only selection this week who is not traditionally a good putter. But off-setting that is the fact that he bombs it off the tee and is No. 1 in this field for Birdies or Better Gained over the last 36 rounds. He is also excellent on lengthy approach shots, ranking in the top 14 for Hole Proximity from 175 to over 200-yards. I also like the form this season with top-20 finishes or better at the Sentry, the Sony Open, Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the Masters.

Adam Schenk hits drive at 2023 Tour Championship at East Lake
Adam Schenk hits a drive at the 2023 Tour Championship at East Lake. Getty Images

Adam Schenk (40-1)

When looking at the stats, one has to like the combination of areas of success for Schenk: being upper tier in SG: Off the Tee, on the long Par 4s, and being an excellent putter. Keep that up all week and you just might have an outright winner. In 2023, Schenk had the best season of his career, and he’s held serve for the most part in 2024 with a 17th-place finish in Phoenix, a 19th at the Players Championship, a fifth-place finish at the Valero Texas Open, followed by a 12th at the Masters.

Mackenzie Hughes (45-1)

Over the last 36 rounds, Hughes ranks 26th in this field on the 450-500 yard Par 4s and is fourth for SG: Par 5s. Like Schenk and Noren, he too is one of the best putters in this field, ranking 14th out of 156 players. The form this season has been very strong, only missing one cut in 10 starts and finishing inside the top 40 seven times, including a third-place finish at the Valspar Championship and a 14th in Houston, both happening as recently as last month. Already a two-time career winner on Tour, last year Hughes finished 14th at TPC Craig Ranch.

Maverick McNealy (55-1)

Like Hughes, McNealy too has only missed one cut this season in 10 stroke-play event starts, with top-10 finishes at both the WM Phoenix Open and the Players Championship. Similar to Schenk’s numbers, McNealy is top-tier in this week’s rankings for SG: Off the Tee, on the long Par 4s, and is No. 2 in this field for SG: Putting (bentgrass) over the last 36 rounds. On the correlated courses, McNealy has top-10 finishes at TPC Summerlin and Detroit Golf Club, and has two top-20 finishes at Memorial Park in Houston.

Who Chirp users like this week

Chirp picks CJ Cup
Chirp user picks for the CJ Cup Byron Nelson. Chirp

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