CJ Cup Byron Nelson 2024 Tips: Six big each-way picks for Texas

 | April 29 | 

20 mins read

jamie worsley pga tour

The PGA Championship at Valhalla draws nearer but before the ideal prep of a challenging Quail Hollow in the Wells Fargo Championship next week, the tour takes a detour back to Texas for a wholly different test: THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch.

Let's jump right in with star golf tipster Jamie Worsley's CJ Cup Byron Nelson Predictions, which range from 50/1 to 250/1!

CJ Cup Byron Nelson Betting Tips

  • 1 pt Mackenzie Hughes each-way (1/5 - 6 places) - 50/1 
  • 1 pt Seamus Power each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 50/1
  • 1 pt Garrick Higgo each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 90/1 
  • 1 pt C.T. Pan each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 100/1
  • 1 pt S.H. Kim each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 100/1 
  • 1 pt Pierceson Coody each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 250/1

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

This tournament began in 1944 as the Texas Victory Open, later becoming the Dallas Open and has always been played in and around the city. The legendary Byron Nelson won that inaugural edition and since 1968, the event has shared its name with the five-time major winner; this year joining forces with THE CJ CUP to create THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson.

Tom Watson is the most successful player in the history of the event on four victories; first winning in 1975 and then went on to win three on the spin from 1978-1980.

Sam Snead comes next on three wins (1945, 1957, 1958) and there have been a further five players to record multiple Byron Nelson wins: Jack Nicklaus (1970, 1971), Bruce Lietzke (1981, 1988), Sergio Garcia (2004, 2016), K.H. Lee (2021, 2022) and Jason Day (2010, 2023).

THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson has become somewhat of a birdie-fest in recent years, continuing the trend at its new home, TPC Craig Ranch, which has hosted the event since 2021.

Last five winners:

  • 2023 – Winner: Jason Day (-23); runners-up: Austin Eckroat, Si Woo Kim (-22)
  • 2022 – Winner: K.H. Lee (-26); runner-up: Jordan Spieth (-25)
  • 2021 – Winner: K.H. Lee (-25); runner-up Sam Burns (-22)
  • 2019 – Winner: Sung Kang (-23); runners-up: Matt Every, Scott Piercy (-21)
  • 2018 – Winner: Aaron Wise (-23); runner-up: Marc Leishman (-20)

*2020 edition cancelled due to covid

Jason Day ended his five-year drought on the PGA Tour in this event last year, ending the run of K.H. Lee, who won each of the first two editions of the event at TPC Craig Ranch. The Aussie returns to defend this week.

THE COURSE

TPC Craig Ranch was designed by Tom Weiskopf and opened for play in 2004. Prior to hosting this event the course had been regularly used on the Korn Ferry Tour, both as host of Q-School and regular tour events.

After playing as a par 72 for the first two editions, it switched to being a par 71 in 2023, with the par 5 12th changed into a lengthy par 4. This predictably resulted in a higher winning score but at -23, and with -18 enough to see you inside the top 10, this is still an incredibly low-scoring course.

This par 71 measures 7414 yards and contains 11x par 4s (330-512 yards), 4x par 3s (147-232 yards) and 3x par 5s (552-569 yards).

Coming in at a long 7414 yards and home to a creek that snakes its way through 13 of the holes on the course, there’s enough to expect the course to play more difficult than it does. However everything is incredibly straightforward at TPC Craig Ranch.

The gently-rolling fairways are very generous and predominantly straight, with little in the way of severe doglegs. Bunkers are plentiful but rarely intrusive on the landing areas and even if you find them, they’re generally easy to play out of.

Whilst many fairways are tree-lined, there’s little risk of being blocked out providing you don’t stray too far from the short grass. Combine this with the lack of troublesome rough and it’s easy to see why it ranks among the least penal driving courses on tour.

The bentgrass greens are relatively large, slow and easy to hit. Not only that, but they are simple to putt on and though bunkers again offer some protection, the punishment for missing the putting surfaces is very mild; with TPC Craig Ranch ranking as the second-easiest scrambling course on the PGA Tour.

Although the aforementioned water is a feature of 13 holes, players will have to be way out with their ball-striking to find it on most holes.

There are three par 3s above 200 yards and a couple of tougher par 4s, including the 512-yard 13th. Having said that, there are plenty of chances on the par 4s – two that are potentially drivable – and all of the par 5s will be reachable for most in the field.

Ultimately, if you give professional players a receptive course that doesn’t require a great deal of strategy and barely punishes errant ball-striking, you are going to end up with the low scoring we’ve seen here previously. Barring some extreme weather, there’s no reason to expect the scoring to be much different this time around.

THE WEATHER

It could be a chaotic week weather-wise in Texas. Storms and heavy rainfall are forecast before the start of the event, which will soften the course up further. Those storms are set to continue into tournament week, meaning stoppages could be a constant and frustrating occurrence.

With gusts at up to 28mph over those opening two rounds, conditions could be pretty difficult when players are out on the course, but that should calm over the weekend and if playing this receptive course in benign conditions, the field will take it apart.

KEY STATS

  • SG: Approach
  • Proximity from 200yds+

With the soft, receptive greens at TPC Craig Ranch, it shouldn’t come as a shock to discover that quality iron play has been an important factor among the winners/contenders in previous seasons.

Jason Day was 3rd in approach when winning last year, whilst K.H. Lee ranked 2nd when winning for the first time in 2021 and 8th the following year.

In both of those years, the Korean was at the head of approach-heavy leaderboards; with six of the top 10 in each ranking inside the top 10 in approach. This includes both runners-up, Jordan Spieth and Sam Burns, ranking 4th and 6th respectively.

Focusing on players who excel in approaches exceeding 200yds looks particularly important. As mentioned, there are three par 3s that measure 200+; the three par 5s will see most going for the green in two from distances 200+ and there are several longer par 4s on which approach distances will also fall into this range.

  • SG: Putting (bentgrass)

Birdie-fests can so often become about the putter and it will be a benefit to have strong bentgrass putters on side this week.

Jason Day was solid on the greens last year, whilst runner-up, Austin Eckroat led the field in this area. Meanwhile, K.H. Lee ranked 9th and 13th in putting for both of his victories.

  • Birdie or Better Percentage

You don’t need to drive it especially well here and though the course is on the long side, leaderboards often feature a good mix of longer and shorter hitters. Instead I’m going to keep it simple and for obvious reasons, the final stat I’ll be looking at in this low scoring tournament is birdie or better %.

CORRELATING EVENTS (COURSES)

Shriners Open (TPC Summerlin)

The Shriners Open is another of the tour’s lowest scoring events, with winning scores regularly in the -20s. It provides a similar ball-striking challenge to TPC Craig Ranch, with generous fairways and large bentgrass greens easy to hit.

With just three renewals of THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson staged at TPC Craig Ranch, correlating form isn’t ample; the most notable are detailed below.

Notable correlating form:

Jason Day:

Byron Nelson (1st) / Shriners (4th)

K.H. Lee:

Byron Nelson (1st, 1st) / Shriners (7th)

Si Woo Kim:

Byron Nelson (2nd) / Shriners (8th, 8th)

Patton Kizzire:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / Shriners (2nd, 4th)

Jhonattan Vegas:

Byron Nelson (9th) / Shriners (5th)

John Deere Classic (TPC Deere Run)

The generous fairways and easy-to-hit bentgrass greens at TPC Deere Run means that low scoring is usually a given, and it can give us some clues as to who might go well this week.

Notable correlating form:

Jordan Spieth:

Byron Nelson (2nd) / John Deere (1st, 1st)

Sebastian Munoz:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / John Deere (4th)

Scott Stallings:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / John Deere (4th, 5th)

Daniel Berger:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / John Deere (5th)

Jhonnatan Vegas:

Byron Nelson (9th) / John Deere (3rd)

Seamus Power:

Byron Nelson (9th) / John Deere (8th)

Sanderson Farms Championship (Country Club of Jackson)

The fairways at the Country Club of Jackson are much narrower, however there’s a similar lack of penalty for missing them. Possessing one of the least demanding short-game challenges on tour – much like TPC Craig Ranch – and with comparable GIR numbers, both from on and off the fairways, some players have been able to transfer strong form between these two courses.

Notable correlating form:

Sam Burns:

Byron Nelson (2nd) / Sanderson Farms (1st, 3rd)

Si Woo Kim:

Byron Nelson (2nd) / Sanderson Farms (8th)

Sebastian Munoz:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / Sanderson Farms (1st)

Scott Stallings:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / Sanderson Farms (2nd)

Patton Kizzire:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / Sanderson Farms (4th)

C.T Pan:

Byron Nelson (4th) / Sanderson Farms (9th)

3M Open (TPC Twin Cities)

As a par 71 of a similar length to TPC Craig Ranch, with large bentgrass greens and generous fairways – ranking closely to this week’s course in GIR and driving accuracy percentages – TPC Twin Cities looks a strong comp for this week.

Notable correlating form:

K.H. Lee:

Byron Nelson (1st, 1st) / 3M Open (6th)

Sam Burns:

Byron Nelson (2nd) / 3M Open (7th)

Jhonattan Vegas:

Byron Nelson (9th) / 3M Open (2nd)

Phoenix Open (TPC Scottsdale)

I’m going to explore the Tom Weiskopf angle next with TPC Scottsdale, host of the Phoenix Open. Whilst not appearing the most obvious comp it possesses similar GIR percentages to TPC Craig Ranch and like many venues in the TPC Portfolio, features plenty of risk/reward opportunities.

Notable correlating form:

K.H. Lee:

Byron Nelson (1st, 1st) / Phoenix (2nd)

Jason Day:

Byron Nelson (1st) / Phoenix (5th)

Sam Burns:

Byron Nelson (2nd) / Phoenix (3rd, 6th)

Daniel Berger:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / Phoenix (7th, 9th)

Ryan Palmer:

Byron Nelson (5th, 8th) / Phoenix (2nd, 2nd)

Charles Schwab Challenge (Colonial Country Club)

There was no course that possessed as much correlating form as Colonial Country Club. Located just an hour’s drive from TPC Craig Ranch, it is a much more demanding ball-striking test, with the narrow, densely tree-lined fairways and small greens tough to find. However, with bentgrass greens, bermudagrass rough and plenty of bunkers, there’s enough here to make TPC Craig Ranch performers feel at home, which has shown in the following comp form.

Notable correlating form:

Jason Day:

Byron Nelson (1st) / Colonial (4th)

Sam Burns:

Byron Nelson (2nd) / Colonial (1st)

Daniel Berger:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / Colonial (1st)

Patton Kizzire:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / Colonial (3rd)

Sebastian Munoz:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / Colonial (3rd)

Scott Stallings:

Byron Nelson (3rd) / Colonial (4th, 4th)

C.T Pan:

Byron Nelson (4th) / Colonial (3rd)

Ryan Palmer:

Byron Nelson (5th, 8th) / Colonial (3rd, 5th, 5th)

THE FIELD

Local star and world #20, Jordan Spieth is the top-ranked player in this week’s field. Having twice finished inside the top 10 here – including as runner-up in 2022 – he will be hoping to gain some confidence before heading to Valhalla in two weeks.

There is plenty of depth in the field, with a further nine of the world’s top 50 and 36 of the top 100 in attendance. The next best of these is defending champion, Jason Day at #23 and he is one of four former winners in the field, joined by K.H. Lee (2022, 2021), Sung Kang (2019) and Adam Scott (2008).

Wesley Bryan gets another start following his excellent runner-up finish in the Corales Puntacana Championship two weeks ago; Japan’s former #1 amateur, Taiga Semikawa gets in on a sponsors exemption; and watch out for 16-year-old English amateur, Kris Kim, winner of the Boys Amateur Championship in 2023.

SELECTIONS

Market leaders: Jordan Spieth 12/1, Jason Day 18/1, Si Woo Kim 22/1, Will Zalatoris 22/1, Adam Scott 25/1, Sungjae Im 25/1, Alex Noren 25/1

It is tricky to know what to expect from this week’s conditions. Plenty of stoppages could lead to a fractured event, with draw biases and even the potential for a shortened event if thunderstorms persist throughout the week. With that it’s not a week to venture too close to the top of the betting for me and I’m going to largely roll the dice on some larger prices.

My first couple of selections come from the middle of the pack and after his usually trusty putter has started to pick up over recent starts, I’m taking Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes to record a third PGA Tour win this week.

1 pt Mackenzie Hughes each-way (1/5 - 6 places) - 50/1 

Hughes has been ultra-consistent this year, missing just one cut in 10 but he’s been at his very best over his last five starts. Following top-30 performances among strong fields at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and PLAYERS Championship, he recorded his best finish of the season in the Valspar Championship, finishing 3rd. He backed that up with a 14th in the Houston Open on his next start and when we last saw him he finished a solid 39th in the RBC Heritage; an event in which he sat 5th entering the weekend.

Hughes ranks 18th in strokes-gained total over those last five starts, during which time his putter has started to fire. In addition, he’s been hitting the ball solidly, gaining strokes in 4/5 appearances in approach and 3/5 off-the-tee. For a player who can blow hot and cold it’s been promising to see the consistent quality of his performances over these weeks.

He did miss the cut here on debut in 2022,  however he put that right last year, finishing 14th; a performance in which he shot three rounds of 65 or better and would’ve certainly been a feature on Sunday if not for his third-round 73.

Hughes’ last PGA Tour win in the 2022 Sanderson Farms Championship is a big boost to his chances here and if continuing to fire on all cylinders like he has largely done in recent weeks, he’ll be a danger in Texas.

1 pt Seamus Power each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 50/1

Seamus Power returned from a hip injury at the start of this year. Whilst understandably slow to get going, signs have been more positive of late, especially the quality of his approach play and coming back to a course where he’s finished inside the top 20 on each previous visit, he looks a lively contender at TPC Craig Ranch.

Power finished 50th of 59 players on his first start of the year in The Sentry and had to wait until his seventh start of the season to record a first top 30. That effort came at Bay Hill in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, with his 21st-place finish there aided by a best approach performance of the year, and he has maintained the quality in this area of his game. Indeed it took him to his best performance of the year on his latest start in the RBC Heritage, finishing 12th; ranking 10th in approach.

He's a player that has mostly shone with the short game, where his aptitude on the greens has often been at its brightest on bentgrass. His two best putting performances of last year came at Augusta and Muirfield Village (both bentgrass) whilst his first tour win in the 2021 Barbasol Championship also saw him put well on this grass.

This has been evident on two of his three visits to this course, where he finished 9th in 2021 and followed with finishes of 17th and 19th in the last two years; shooting under par in 12/12 rounds and in the 60s in 11/12.

Each of Power’s two tour wins (the second coming in the 2022 Bermuda Championship) have been relatively low scoring and with numerous top-25 efforts across the John Deere Classic, Sanderson Farms Championship, Phoenix Open and Shriners Open, he has a strong book of comp form to solidify his chances.

1 pt Garrick Higgo each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 90/1 

Garrick Higgo has endured an up-and-down year, though there has been plenty of promising stuff mixed in with the chaos. He comes into this after a top 5 in last week’s Zurich Classic alongside Ryan Fox and returning here – a course at which his wayward driving shouldn’t be too much of a concern – following a promising 30th on debut in 2023, this heavy-scoring South African looks an interesting competitor.

Higgo has only missed three of his seven cuts so far in 2024, though has rarely threatened the top of the leaderboard, with his 16th-place finish at PGA National his solo top 20 of the year individually.

His game has been unpredictable. He’s done everything well at several times throughout the year but has rarely managed to put it all together. Though when he got anywhere near doing that, hitting his irons excellently and putting well at PGA National, we saw how he can upgrade his result.

When he finds it, Higgo can be a lethal scorer, as shown by his two most recent wins on the DP World Tour - in the Canary Islands in 2021 - coming in scores of -25 and -27, and it’s at this type of generous ball-striking course that often erratic, occasional birdie-machines can excel.

He ranks inside the top 60 in birdie-or-better % in the last two years – no mean feat for a player who rarely strings together too many top-class performances in a row - whilst he’s also encouragingly strong with his long irons; both of which should see him go well at this course.

The big-hitter took the course on with driver last year, ranking 2nd in the field off-the-tee. He made too many errors to contend but with four rounds in the 60s and 21 birdies made over the week, he certainly found plenty to like here and finished a respectable 30th.

A 3rd-place finish at The Country Club of Jackson, along with top 25s at the John Deere Classic, Phoenix Open and 3M Open, represents strong comp form across limited starts and points to a player at ease on this type of setup.

1 pt C.T. Pan each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 100/1

C.T. Pan finished an excellent 4th on debut here last year thanks to a closing nine-under 62. Starting to find some noteworthy form in approach on his last two starts, the Taiwanese star looks poised for another contending effort this week.

After missing his first two cuts of the season, Pan has made his last five and recorded a best of 3rd in the Mexico Open. An effort that was engineered by a strong short-game display, though the irons were still cold.

However, he found some improvements on his next start in the Cognizant Classic and after dropping the level of performance in this area again at Bay Hill, he has responded by recording two of his three best performance of the last two years on his last two starts.

Pan ranked 12th in approach two starts ago at TPC Sawgrass, taking him to a commendable 42nd-place finish which would’ve been even better if not for his final-round struggles, as he posted a 76 to drop 30 spots from 12th. He then ranked 22nd in approach on his latest start in the Texas Open, though due to another off week with the putter, he finished just outside the top 50.

He had actually been putting well this season prior to those last two efforts and he has many decent performances on bentgrass to his name, including ranking 27th here in that 4th-place finish last year.

Pan showed quality across the board at TPC Craig Ranch in 2023, shooting rounds of 67, 66 and 68 before that final-round 62 propelled him into the top 5. A 3rd-place finish at Colonial in 2019 again shows his ability to go well on bentgrass, whilst three top-12 finishes in the Sanderson Farms Championship offer further proof that his excellent debut effort last year needn’t be a one off.

1 pt S.H. Kim each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 100/1 

Due to the new sponsor of the Byron Nelson’s Korean roots, this event has attracted a strong group of players from Korea. S.H. (Seonghyeon) Kim won’t be the most famous among these but he has a couple of stats in his favour that make him a tempting price this week, and with his 50th on debut last year offering more promise than the bare result, I fancy him to make a strong play at winning a first PGA Tour title.

Kim’s debut season offered plenty of promise, which included standout performances of 2nd in the Fortinet Championship and 4th in the Shriners Open. There’s been little to talk about in 2024, he’s been solid enough but rarely threatened, however he did record his best finish of the year three starts ago, of 14th in the Texas Open.

He showed himself to be a strong driver with a sharp short game last year. The short game has looked even better in 2024 and whilst he’s struggling a little off-the-tee, he should appreciate the more generous landing areas at TPC Craig Ranch.

Approach play wouldn’t be Kim’s forte but he has gained strokes in this area in his last four recorded starts – albeit narrowly – and he’s a strong top 50 from 200yds+. With his scoring prowess on show from his ranking of 39th in birdie-or-better % this year, he has the skillset to contend.

Though a debut 50th last year doesn’t sound too impressive, the result doesn’t tell the whole story. After opening the event with rounds of 66 and 68, the Korean sat 14th at the halfway point, before a third-round 74 did for his chances. However, he bounced back with his best round of the week on Sunday, firing a 6-under 65; three encouraging rounds to one poor one suggests he definitely has more to offer at the course.

Kim didn’t putt all that well there but as mentioned, he’s usually strong on the greens and has often gone well on bentgrass, including in that aforementioned 4th-place finish in the Shriners Open in 2022. An appealing piece of comp form for this challenge.

1 pt Pierceson Coody each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 250/1

Former #1 amateur, Pierceson Coody grew up and still resides just 20 minutes away from TPC Craig Ranch in Plano, Texas. I’ve backed him a few times over the last couple of months and after recording his best result of the year in his last solo start in the Corales Puntacana, finishing 18th, I felt he was worth another shot at a big price this week.

Coody failed to make any of his first five cuts on the PGA Tour this year but has since made his last four in solo competition, excluding last week’s Zurich Classic when paired with twin brother, Parker.

The latest of those came in the Dominican and though eventually fading to 18th over the weekend, it was encouraging to see him sit inside the top 5 at the halfway point. It gave the impression of a player slowly finding his feet at this level and I’m hoping he can take another step forward this week.

We still have very little evidence about what he can offer overall but up to now, he looks a bomber with a hot putter; not necessarily a bad combo for this event. In addition, he’s a solid top 80 in birdie-or-better % and we have evidence of his ability in low scoring affairs from the Korn Ferry Tour last year, where he won the Price Cutter Charity Championship with a 25-under-par winning score.

That was the third win in a little over 12 months at that level for Coody, after he turned pro in June 2022. It’s a winning habit I expect this talented player to transfer to this heightened level of the PGA Tour in time and though missing the cut on his two previous visits to TPC Craig Ranch, this looks a suitable setup for him to make a breakthrough.

You can find all Jamie's latest Golf Betting Tips over on our dedicated golf Insights hub.

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