The first of two straight PGA Tour events in Texas tees off this week with the AT&T Byron Nelson and it starts a three-week run of tournaments associated with some of the biggest legends in the game.
Lord Byron .... Byron Nelson, the man who once won 11 tournaments IN A ROW represents this week's stop on the PGA Tour with the tournament bearing his name. Byron Nelson won the very first edition of this event in 1944. Since then, the biggest names in golf have gone on to capture this prize, but in recent years the tournament has struggled to attack a star-studded field. For many years, players showed up to honor Mr. Nelson but since his passing in 2006, the class of the field has taken a hit. Tour players do not love the golf course, TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, for the most part. Tweaks to the design, minor and major, have been made over the years in hopes for improvement, but the fact is this will be the last year the AT&T Byron Nelson is staged here and next year a new venue will play host, Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas. Not all is lost, however, as there are a handful of big names in attendance this week to keep things interesting, including Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia and Jason Day.
TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas is a tree-lined course with water coming into play on nearly half of the holes. The rough off of the fairways can be pretty thick and could be nasty this week with thunderstorms scattered throughout the weather forecast. The wind will be blowing pretty steady before calming down some on Saturday and Sunday into the 10-12 mph range. The course is a par 70, so scoring on the par 4s will be important. Over time, TPC Four Seasons has shown to be a ball-strikers' course with Greens in Regulation being the most common thread among the winners. Driving Distance is a factor, but I would not term it a "bombers" course as Driving Accuracy is a trait we have seen carry shorter hitters to the winners circle as well.
Back in March we had the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, but this week kicks off a run of three straight weeks in which a legend of the game is tied to the tournament. Byron Nelson and then next week it is on to Colonial Country Club, often associated with the late great Ben Hogan, who won there five times. Finally, two weeks from now we'll be at the Memorial, a tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio. Keep in mind, we are also now just 30 days away from the start of the season's second major, the U.S. Open.
Dustin Johnson (+556 Pinnacle): Since his return to action following the back injury at the Masters, DJ has finished 2nd and 12th. with the 12th last week at the Players being his highest-ever finish in that championship. His last six finishes at the Byron Nelson are 12-8-7-20-7-4.
Sergio Garcia (+1589 Pinnacle): The Players was the first time we'd seen Sergio since he won the Masters, and he was very solid in his return. Here he is the defending champion. He also won back in 2004 and has two Top 20 finishes since the redesign in 2008.
Jordan Spieth (+1589 Pinnacle): Spieth's 3rd missed cut in a row at the Players was well publicized last week. His results here are similarly disappointing for the Dallas native as he is yet to record a Top 15 finish in six tries. He was in the final pairing Sunday last year before slipping into a tie for 18th.
Jason Day (+1946 Pinnacle): The inconsistency this season continues for this former Byron Nelson winner. Last week at the Players, Day started out looking like he could win it again but collapsed Sunday, shooting an 80. In four tries at the Nelson, he has a win in 2010 and two additional Top 10s.
Brooks Koepka (+1775 Bookmaker): Koepka is really coming into form with yet another strong showing last week. He arrives this week to a place at which he finished 2nd last year to Sergio and 16th the year before that. I expect him to be in the conversation on Sunday.
Louis Oosthuizen (+3500 5Dimes): Oosthuizen is still yet to have a win on U.S. soil after finishing 2nd last week at the Players. His track record here is anything but stellar despite an 11th-place finish in 2014.
The Long Shots
Tony Finau (+3500 5Dimes): Finau has missed two straight cuts on Tour but took 3rd the last time he was in the state of Texas at the Valero Texas Open a month ago. The long bomber is a popular choice this week as in two trips here to TPC Four Seasons, he has finished 10th and 12th.
Marc Leishman (+5169 Pinnacle): Australians have an excellent track record at the Byron Nelson and that could be related to their ability to play in the wind. The Arnold Palmer Invitational winner has missed the cut here in the last two seasons, but prior to that, Leishman has three Top 10s and two Top 15s in six tries.
Byeong Hun An (+5500 5Dimes): This is An's first visit to the Byron Nelson, but his length off of the tee and strong tee-to-green game ought to fare well this week. He has only missed one cut all year, and that was in the team play event at The Zurich Classic. An was 33rd at the Masters and 8th in his last start at The Wells Fargo Championship.
I find it very hard to not pick DJ here this week. His track record is spectacular, having never missed a cut in seven tries, and in those seven visits, he's recorded four Top 10 finishes and two Top 20s. The difficult part is placing a wager at such a short price, but he's No. 1 on Tour in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, No. 1 in Greens in Regulation, and 2nd in Par 4 Scoring. Coming off of a personal best finish at the Players last week tells me there are no lingering problems with his back injury from the Masters. If he starts playing like he did before the Masters, DJ may win this week wire-to-wire. Trying to find another player in this field who could win at a more attractive price feels like I'm trying to outthink the room.Talk PGA Tour Betting In Our Golf Forum