AT&T Byron Nelson
Defending Champ: Steven Bowditch
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AT&T Byron Nelson Field
156 Players | Top 70 & Ties Make the Cut | First Tee Time 8:00am EST
Rory McIlroy and Masters champ Danny Willet highlight a field boasting a lot of recognizable names: Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, David Lingmerth, Russell Knox, Martin Kaymer…….. wait. That’s the not the Byron Nelson field, that cast list for the Euro Tour stop in Ireland this week.
So, who’s making the trek to Dallas? Well, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson represent the Top 10 in the world rankings contingent, and they’re joined by seven others inside the Top 30: Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Zach Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia, and Brandt Snedeker. After that, there’s a mini-tier featuring Jimmy Walker, Danny Lee, Charley Hoffman, Ryan Palmer, Jason Dufner, and Marc Leishman, but, with 156 players lacing up the spikes this week, the Byron Nelson field is one of the softest of the season.
Outside of the bigger names, SUPER ROOK Byrson DeChambeau is back in the mix on an exemption, as is Wake Forest’s Will Zalatoris, a former US Junior champion, and former Alabama star (and 4th at the Zurich Classic) Bobby Wyatt.
AT&T Byron Nelson Key Stats
Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green
Par 4 Birdies or Better
Par 3 Efficiency 175-200 Yards
Sand Save Percentage
AT&T Byron Nelson Course Details
TPC Four Seasons | Par: 70 | 7,166 Yards
A year later, most thinking back to the 2015 incarnation of the Byron Nelson simply wonder, “How the fuck did Steven Bowditch win a golf tournament?” Completely justifiable. However it’s easy to overlook the course being submerged in water most of the week. Conditions were so soggy, the Par 4 14th was converted to a barely-over-100-yard Par 3 from Friday-Sunday, and the course played as a Par 69. The first time that had happened in PGA Tour history. This year, anticipate things getting wet again. At least in the lead up to the event. With the barrage of thunderstorms expected to rinse the DFW area Monday-Thursday, delays in tee-times are inevitable and the course will play damp, something which should favor longer hitters, especially if lift-clean-and-replace rules come in effect. Fortunately, the weekend weather looks pristine, and it appears as if we’ve avoided a Monday finish or a three-round final.
For you course history buffs, TPC Four Seasons got a major redesign in 2007 when the greens were altered into bumpier surfaces, which has resulted in the one of the lowest make-percentages of any course on TOUR on putts from beyond 20-feet. They also removed a lot of the forest area, leaving players exposed to far more water hazards scores the layout, including the addition of a four-pond water cascade on No. 18. Add in 68 bunkers and a conversion to bermudagrass fairways from a traditional winter ryegrass between the 2008 and 2009 tournament, and you have a pretty tough track. Even with Bowditch posting (-18) as the winning score last year, TPC Four Seasons was 15th most difficult course (of 52) in 2015, with a scoring average of +0.029.
Although it’s a Par 70, distance off the tee will be critical in certain spots on the course. Obviously on the Par 5s, but there are three other holes of note. Two of the hardest holes, No. 3 and No. 15 are 500+ yard Par 4, which could play even longer if the fairways are too wet to generate much roll. Also, there’s a tiny 323 yard Par 4 that should yield some easy birdies to the deeper drivers.
AT&T Byron Nelson Picks
Dustin Johnson – DJ’s T10 streak came to a halt at three, but his T28 at THE PLAYERS kept his TOUR-best consecutive cuts streak alive at 18. Plus, THE PLAYERS isn’t a course tailored to his skill set and he still managed to churn out a quality result. TPC Four Season is however. DJ’s never missed the cut at the Bryon Nelson, with T10 finishes in four of his past five starts.
Gary Woodland – You can easily go Jordan Spieth in this spot, but since I’m running out of Spieth starts, I’ll pivot on to Woodland. He’s only missed one cut during the 2015-2016 season and has the distance (3rd DD) to take advantage of the potentially wet conditions.
Brandt Snedeker – Snedeker’s been incredibly boom or bust this season, and the busts have been far more prevalent lately – MC/T25/MC. Still, he remains Top 30 on TOUR in birdie average, scoring average, sand saves, and Par 3 & 4 scoring, while sitting tops in scrambling from beyond 30 yards. With the TPC Four Season’s fairways being among the toughest to hit, not bleeding too many strokes after missing off the tee box becomes incredibly important.
Ryan Palmer – Like DJ and Woodland, Palmer has been uber-consistent. He hasn’t failed to play the weekend since the season-opener in October at the Frys.com, and has begun heating up lately – T23/T4 in his past two starts. Toss in his elite driving distance (11th), overall Birdie or Better percentage (19th) and quality recent history at the course (T10/T22/T33/T9/T2) and Palmer is clearly one of the safest options available.
Charley Hoffman – Dallas is in Texas, so take Hoffman. Guy just destroys events in the Lone Star state. He finished T2/T8 in his past two Bryon Nelson appearance, and has posted three T15s overall, including a win, before missing the cut last week at Sawgrass.
Danny Lee – Lee’s game is quietly rounding into form, almost to the date as it did last season when he went on a HOT FIYAAAAAA summer run. He’s played well at distance and accuracy courses alike, and won’t be flummoxed by the amount sand sprinkled across the course (7th SS%). Plus, there have been nine international winners at the Bryon Nelson since 2000, Lee can definitely make that No. 10.
Charl Schwartzel – In the Yahoo C-List, I’ll go with the chalk. Schwartzel’s the No. 21 player in the world, already won twice this year (Valspar/Tshwane), and rates best on TOUR from the key Par 3 distance.
Louis Oosthuizen – Louis actually sits higher than his countryman in the world ranks (No. 13), has six T15s in his past eight starts, and is second in efficiency on Par 3s from 175-200 yards. He’s Top 10 in total driving and ball striking, 11th in Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green, and one of the better iron players, from any distance, in the world. If you want to go a tad contrarian, Scott Piercy is a viable option this week too.
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