2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship Preview and Picks to Win – Betting Odds

Tournmament: HP Byron Nelson Championship
Where: TPC Four Seasons Irving, TX
Date: May 20th through May 23rd, 2010
What Channel? The Golf Channel/CBS

by Evergreen of Predictem.com

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The PGA Tour has made it a tradition to honor the greats of the game by attaching their names to certain events throughout the year. We focus on the legendary Byron Nelson this week when the pros tee it up in Texas at the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship. Rory Sabbatini will defend his 2009 crown and while the BMW stop on the Euro PGA has drawn the top international talent, the four previous Nelson winners are in the field. As with most events in Texas, you always have to look out for the local boys like Scott Verplank and Justin Leonard, both of whom are in the field this week. The players are down to their last chance to become or remain exempt for the upcoming Majors, so there is more than just a trophy on the line for many.

The TPC Four Seasons is well-known to the players and is relatively unique in that almost all styles of play can do well here. The par-70 track is not overly long at 7,166 yards but does limit easy birdie opportunities with only two par-5s. The third is the toughest hole on the course and players will be happy to card a par on the 528 yard par-4. The course record is 61, most recently carded by Justin Leonard in 2001 but no player that has shot the course record has gone on to win the event. Look for the top-tier ballstrikers to have an advantage this week, especially if the winds kick up and fairways and greens become harder to hit.

Each week, we take a look at the online golf sportsbooks and highlight the players that we think will contend. We pick a short, middle and long odds golfer to win outright and breakdown a couple of head to head matches as well. Here are our picks for the 2010 Byron Nelson Championship.

Short Favorite: Hunter Mahan (20 to 1 odds to win)
Mahan is the consensus favorite at most books and rightly so based on his 2010 Waste Management win and his three straight top-17 finishes coming into the week. Hunter has one of the most impressive stat sheets in 2010, made even more impressive considering he is still two years away from turning 30. Mahan is best on Tour in both total driving and ballstriking so tee to green is more than covered. The putter is ranked outside the top-125, but even a modest improvement this week will have him in contention and the greens at the TPC arent exactly treacherous. If you dont like him enough for the win, he can still be bet confidently in just about any head to head match.

Middle of the Road: Ben Crane (25 to 1 odds to win)
Crane is having one of the best years on Tour that no one knows about. You might remember his win at the Farmers, but Ben has shown consistency by only missing one cut in 11 starts and is coming off a T4 at the PLAYERS. Crane is ranked 9th in fairways hit and comes in at 10th in both GIR% and ballstriking. The putter has been above average all year and the rest of the stat sheet is good (9th in all around), but the scoring has been mediocre at times mostly due to long strings of pars. Patience is a key for windy days and Crane is among the slowest, errmost patient on Tour.

Longshot: Carl Pettersson (50 to 1 odds to win)
Pettersson is one of the Tours road warriors and will be making his 15th start of the season at the Nelson. His early season results were mixed and while his play has been average at best, he hasnt missed a cut since early March and has a T4 here in 2008. The putter has been Carls best weapon this year and he is currently in the top-16 in average, putts per round and total putting. Thats led to the 9th most birdies on Tour and has paid off even greater on the par-4s where Pettersson is second best with a 19-under aggregate. Having two fewer par-5s should be bonus for him this week.

Head to Head Matches (our pick) *all matches are for entire event. Check with your favorite offshore sportsbook for single round matches and prop bets.

Rickie Fowler (-115) v. Stewart Cink (-115) (Fowler)
Take the young buck versus the grizzled vet in this one as Fowler outranks Cink in both driving distance and fairways hit. That combo plus a top-25 GIR% has Rickie in the top-10 in ballstriking and a college career at Oklahoma should have prepped him for this style of course. Cink does make more birdies than the youngster, but surprisingly makes more bogeys as well so the scoring edge is with Fowler.

Rory Sabbatini (-115) v. Kenny Perry (-115) (Perry)
Sabbatini will feel good teeing it up as the defending champ, but the overall game looks a bit shabby at this point. Sabbs is outside the top-100 in both fairways and greens hit and his scoring has suffered because of it. Perry isnt much better as far as raw score goes, but its all with the putter as Kenny is a top-20 ballstriker and is actually marginally longer than Sabbatini. I like Perry to figure out the flatstick quicker than Rory will figure out multiple issues.

Good Luck!