Kern likes Will Zalatoris's chances at the Byron Nelson.
Kern likes Will Zalatoris's chances at the Byron

Bet the PGA's AT&T Byron Nelson: Mike Kern likes Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris, Marc Leishman & a longshot

The Byron Nelson tees off in Dallas Thursday morning.

It’s time for the AT&T Byron Nelson, in Dallas, which this year is being played on a new course. It’s also the last tournament before the PGA Championship, for whatever you want that to mean. Let’s try to get to the second major of the season on a winning note.

Dustin Johnson, who’s finished second in the PGA the last two years, was a late withdrawal due to a knee issue. But he hasn’t played that well the last two months anyway, so … He still would have been one of, if not THE, fave, as he likely will be again next week.

Now Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm have the lowest odds, at 8-1. DeChambeau had a weird week last week, after flying home on Friday thinking he had missed the cut only to return and finish in the top 10. Go figure. Rahm missed the cut, which doesn’t happen all that often. Jordan Spieth, who was playing well before dealing with Covid, is next at 10-1. So who knows? He does of course need to win the PGA to complete a career grand slam. But that’s next week’s storyline.

Daniel Berger is 16-1. He’s the guy I have in my yearlong pool that I pick back in December, and by now you know what that usually means. Hideki Matsuyama, making his first appearance since winning the Masters, is 18-1. Again, who knows. Scottie Scheffler, who a lot of people seem to think has a decent shot, is 18-1 as well.

Matthew Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris, who was in contention until the end at the Masters, are 20-1. Brooks Koepka is 22-1. But he’s been dealing with some physical issues, which makes him maybe tougher to touch. But the number is enticing. Sometimes there’s a reason for that.

Sam Burns, Marc Leishman and Si Woo Kim are 33-1. Ryan Palmer is 35-1. Harris English and Sergio Garcia are 40-1. Jason Day and Keith Mitchell, who almost won last week, are 50-1. Charl Schwartzel is 55-1. Thomas Pieters and Aaron Wise are 60-1. Some feel Pieters could be a live play at that price. Ditto Doug Ghim, at 66-1. He’s joined there by Matt Kuchar, Noren Alexander and Carlos Ortiz.

Brandt Snedeker is 70-1. Cameron Champ and Rickie Fowler are 80-1. As is Luke List, who played well last week. There are other names, but that’s as far as I’m going to go. Feel free to come up with your own longer shots.

I have to admit I don’t have much of a feel for this one. Maybe I’m looking ahead to the PGA. Still no excuse. Every week is a chance to make some cash. So try not to waste it. You only have so many, even if there always is the next event on the sked.

The Picks

If I had to lean toward one of the guys near the top, I’ll try Scottie Scheffler at 18-1. But not for too much. And I would definitely play him at 4-1 for a top five. Probably a better bet, actually.

I wouldn’t be shocked if either DeChambeau or Rahm got it done, or at least came close, but I just don’t like playing the chalk. And as I said, I have my concerns about Spieth and Koepka. So there.

I would also put something on Will Zalatoris, at 20-1. Again, nothing crazy. And he’s +450 for a top five.

I’ll give you one more from the top tier: Marc Leishman, at 33-1 and 7-1 for a top five. More of a hunch, but he did win the team event in New Orleans a few weeks back. And he has his moments.

If I was going to give you a longer shot, how about Doug Ghim. But maybe only a few bucks to win. The play with him would be more like the 11-1 for a top five, and +550 for a top 10.

That should be enough to keep you busy. And hopefully give you something to be rooting for come Sunday. Then it’s on to Kiawah Island for a major, where the big story will be Rory McIlroy. Never too early to start thinking ahead.

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