Sebastian Munoz has a high ceiling at AT&T Byron Nelson

Fresh off a tournament where the winning total was several digits below par in cold, rainy weather, we should be back to a proverbial bird feast for this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson in warm, windy conditions at TPC Craig Ranch. This tournament delivered a winning score of 25 under in its original host role last year, along with five other scores of minimum 21 under and 25 at 15 under or better.

Unlike the last two events, this one will have more star power for the second major of the year. Seven of the world’s top 13 players will be in attendance, including Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Sam Burns, Xander Schauffele and Hideki Matsuyama.

Let’s start with an outright play in a range that I believe has some serious value.

Outright winner: Sebastian Munoz (80/1)

Sebastian Munoz tee off on the second tee during the final round of the Mexico Open at Vidanta in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Sunday, May 1, 2022.
Sebastian Munoz tee off on the second tee during the final round of the Mexico Open.
AP

I originally had Erik Van Rooyen as my favorite outright game. I liked everything about him – from the fact that he was heading in the right direction to his tendency to make birdies.

There was only one small problem: not long after the piece was published, he withdrew. I’ll own that as a #JINX if you wish, but really EVR just represented a sweet spot on the board where I wanted to throw a few darts.

Instead, I go to Munoz, which comes very close to the Colombian Charles Howell III area here – and as I’ve written in the past, that’s not an insult at all. In his last seven starts, Munoz has finished between 21st and 39th each time and has cashed in on some solid paychecks without ever seriously competing for a title.

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If the CH3 equation doesn’t do this justice, it’s actually in a group with the likes of Russell Henley, Maverick McNealy and Brian Harman as guys who continue to deliver solid performances without showing much in the way of points or money or big results. Still, I still think good things are ahead for all the players I’ve mentioned here.

I’ll admit Munoz may have more value for props where he can pay off that high floor, but I don’t mind taking a risk on his inevitable ceiling here. And think about it: all that Van Rooyen money we’ve been saving from the WD could go to a few other players in this series.

Top-five finishes: Dustin Johnson (+400)

Dustin Johnson tracks his shot from the 16th tee during the second round of the RBC Heritage at Harbor Town Golf Links on April 15, 2022 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Dustin Johnson follows his shot from the 16th tee during the second round of the RBC Heritage.
Getty Images

This remains one of my favorite current stats because it says a lot about us and how we look at these things and how we can shape them to fit our personal stories: Since his most recent global win last February, Johnson has not owned a single top five finish in a stroke play event. (He did reach the semifinals of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, resulting in a solo fourth-place finish.) On the other hand, in 25 stroke play starts since that win, he owns eight top-10s and 13 top-ranked players. 25s .


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That tells us that DJ didn’t fight seriously on the back nine of a Sunday afternoon, but he barely plays golf badly, finishing in the top 25 in half of his appearances.

With all that in mind, I will be backing Johnson to break through one of those streaks and finally get a top-five finish this week. While it’s not very relevant given he hasn’t played this tournament in half a decade and hasn’t taken part in this course, Johnson owns seven consecutive top-20s on this one, though only one top-five, way back in 2009.

Top 10 finish: Aaron Wise (+400)

Aaron Wise makes a par on the second green during the final round of the Mexico Open in Vidanta on May 1, 2022 in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.
Aaron Wise putts to make par on the second green during the final round of the Mexico Open.
Getty Images

Let’s say you play Powerball every week. Instead of using the computer generated numbers, you enjoy choosing your own numbers, having some control over the outcome by choosing your lucky numbers each time. And let’s say you still haven’t won a $183 million jackpot after a few months of playing Powerball.

What are you doing now? One option, of course, is to simply stop playing. If you keep going though, you might as well keep playing your lucky numbers. Finally, think about the regret you would have if you didn’t play them and they suddenly strike one day.

This is essentially how I feel about Wise right now. I’ve played enough against him over the past few months that I’m going to seriously regret it if he wins and I’m not on his way in any way.

With three finishes of 21st or better in his last five starts, he is heading in the right direction and could pull off a Max Homa this week, winning the same event for the second time, but on a completely different course.

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