2008 EDS Byron Nelson Championship Preview and Pick

2008 EDS Byron Nelson Championship
April 24-27, TPC Four Seasons Resort at Las Colinas - Irving, TX
Golf Channel/CBS
by Matt of Predictem.com

The PGA travels to Texas this week for a stop that bears the name of one of the greats of the game. The EDS Byron Nelson Championship takes center stage and although Lord Byron is no longer here to take his traditional seat behind the 18th green, none of the tradition or legacy of this event is lost, especially to the native Texans in the field. The Golf Channel brings you the early rounds, with CBS picking up the weekend action.

The TPC Four Seasons course serves as host for the tournament and will play a big part in the outcome as she has been revamped since last year’s play. D.A. Weibring was charged with tweaking and modifying the layout to ensure the course rewards shotmaking and stays relevant in a high tech golf word. Scott Verplank is the defending champion and is back to vie for the $1.152 million winner’s share of the $6.4 million total purse.

Weibring and his co-contributors brought many changes to the Four Seasons since last May, but most differences will be hard to notice. A change to a tee location or a tree planted along a dogleg won’t be obvious to the TV viewer but will test the golfers just the same. The turf has been replaced and countouring to the greens will provide a brand new feel to the players that have teed it up in the past. Look for solid ball striking and a hot putter to fare well as usual.

Many of the Tour’s bigger names are absent this week, leaving the trophy available to a number of players and also pushes the odds and payouts higher should you bet the eventual winner. We’ll take a look at some contenders and pretenders for this week, and send you to your favorite golf sportsbook with confidence.

With Tiger rehabbing and Phil, Vijay and Ernie all out as well, the favorite on the board at Bodog is Adam Scott, currently 12 to 1 to win and 5 to 2 for a top-5 finish. Scott has been going well this year with no missed cuts in 5 American starts and 4 top 25’s in those events. The Tour’s number 1 ranked All Around golfer hasa 3rd here in ’06 and seems over the upper respiratory issues that hampered him a few weeks back. Scott’s length and 24th ranked GIR% lead to an average of 4 birdies per round.

Luke Donald is next on the list at 14 to 1 to win and 7 to 2 for the top-5. Luke has a solid Nelson track record with a 2nd last year and no finishes outside the top-19 in his last 5 starts here. Donald is the Tour’s 7th ranked putter and should handle any tweaks to the Four Season’s greens. Bet him late in single round matches as he ranks in the top-15 in both 3rd and 4th round scoring.

Trevor Immelman made a name for himself with his Masters victory and tees it up this week as an 18 to 1 shot to win and a 3 to 1 play for the 5 or better bet. While Immelman handled Augusta, he had not been playing particularily well to that point with no finishes inside the top-40 for a month preceding the Masters. He does have a 2nd here in ’06 and has the 12th ranked total driving game to put him in good position, but will have to improve on the 196th ranked putting stat to contend regularly.

Rory Sabbatini follows at 25 to 1 and 7 to 2. The South Africanstarted the year well with a 2nd and 3rd at the Sony and Buick, but has been average since although making the weekend in all starts minus Augusta. Sabbatini’s best Nelson was a 3rd last year and will contend again if he can continue to average a 5th best 4 birdies per round.

Sean O’Hair comes in at 25 to 1 to win and 9 to 2 for the top-5. The Texan has a win this year at the PODS and posted a solid T14 at the Masters. O’Hair has enjoyed the home cooking at the Nelson, finishing T25, 19th and 2nd in 3 appearances. He will have to have a better putting week than his 151st ranked average thus far to contend.

Fellow Texan Chad Campbell is another at 25 to 1 and gets 6 to 1 for the top-5. Campbell fares well at the Nelson with 6 straight cuts made and posting 13th and 5th place finishes in his last two. Chad is in the top-15 in GIR%, putting and birdie averages and is the Tour’s 2nd ranked All Around player. His best finish this year was a T2 at the Shell, another Texas stop.

Sergio Garcia is back a bit at 28 to 1 and 9 to 2. Garcia has the talent to compete week in and week out, but has yet to put it all together this year. 6th in total driving and 40th in greens hit give Garcia plenty of looks for birdie, but the 157th average in putts per round leave Sergio trailing at the end. A MC at the Masters, his best finish was a T15 at the WGC-CA and struggled here last year, finishing 70th.

Scott Verplank is 28 to 1 to repeat as champion and 9 to 2 to take one of the top-5 spots. Verplank hits a 2nd best 78% of fairways which will play here and this event has always had a special place for the Texas native. Scott is solid with the flatstick, ranking 37th and is 35th in birdie average. I’d like him a bit more had Weekley not just repeated at the Verizon.


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Another Longhorn is Justin Leonard at 33 to 1 and 9 to 2. Leonard is riding a perfect 11 for 11 string of cuts made and has 4 top-10’s on the year. Justin’s accuracy numbers will serve him well as he hits a 9th best GIR% and ranks 12th in fairways hit. A solid putter as well leads to 3.95 birdies a round for Leonard. All the Texans we highlighted are good bets this week.

This week’s longshot is Steve Marino at 50 to 1 to win and 10 to 1 for the 5th or better. The Sophmore Pro was 10th here last year and has 6 top-25 finishes in 11 starts in ’08. Marino ranks in the top-40 in the ball striking stats and is 6th in scoring average while posting the most birdies on Tour this year. It seems to be a matter of time for this player.

Matches:

Luke Donald (-120) v. Rory Sabbatini (-120)

I like Donald here and his 2nd ranked scoring average(69.4) to go along with his recent Nelson results. Sabbatini is 38th in scoring average and has been uneven since a hot start.

Justin Leonard (-120) v. Sean O’Hair (-120)

Inan all Texas battle, I’m taking O’Hair based on his last three at the Nelson (25,19,2) while Leonard was a T51 last year and has hadno top-25’s in his last 4 starts here. Look for this to go all four days as I don’t see Leonard ending his cut streak in his home state.

For the Win:

Short Favorite: Luke Donald 14 to 1 odds

Middle of the Road: Chad Campbell 25 to 1

Longshot: Steve Marino 50 to 1