AT&T Bryon Nelson
Defending Champ: Sergio Garcia
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AT&T Bryon Nelson Field
156 Players | Top 70 & Ties Make the Cut After 36 Holes
Generally, the week after a YUGGGGGE event, where all the world’s top players convene in one place, the following week’s tournament has Matt Kuchar as its top draw. Not the case with the Byron Nelson. Sure, Kuch is in the field, but plenty of the game’s elite decided to hop the flight from Jacksonville to Dallas this time around. World’s No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a career best showing at TPC Sawgrass is playing for the third consecutive week. He’s joined by fellow Top 10ers Jason Day (4), Sergio Garcia (5), and Jordan Spieth (6). Toss in Charl Schwartzel, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Kuch, Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Moore, Marc Leishman,
PLAYERS champ Si Woo Kim (He withdrew), and PLAYERS final round gagger, JB Holmes, and you have the core of an impressive field.
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While the top end is very strong, it’s the mid-range players who have a bit more incentive to post a quality result in Dallas. Yes, a paycheck with that many zeros is likely incentive enough, however there are automatic spots in the US Open up for grabs too. At the conclusion of the Byron Nelson, all players inside the Top 60 in the world rankings will be guaranteed an invitation to Erin Hills a month from now, destroying their father’s day plans. Currently, Scott Piercy holds down No. 60, but he must contend with a slew of players jostling for position. Byeong Hun An (58), Zach Johnson (59; ZJ is already in based on his 2015 Open Championship but can clog a spot for someone trying to sneak in), Piercy (60), Jhonattan Vegas (62), Jason Dufner (63), Tony Finau (69), Billy Horschel (76), Hudson Swafford (77), Ian Poulter (80), Fabrizio Zanotti (82), James Hahn (83), and Sung Kang (85) don’t necessarily need to win, but will require a lofty spot on the final leaderboard to secure a berth in the year’s second Major.
Beyond the names you know, NCAA finalist and University of Texas Longhorn Beau Hossler is making his sixth start of the year. His former teammate Kramer Hickok is in the field as well. Hickok claimed an Adams Tour victory three weeks ago.
AT&T Bryon Nelson Key Stats
AT&T Bryon Nelson Course
TPC Four Seasons | 7,166 Yards | Par 70
This will be the final time the Byron Nelson calls TPC Four Seasons its home. Next year the event is moving to downtown Dallas at Trinity Forest GC from Las Colinas, presumably because of Lawrence’s shoddy work on the drywall at the local McDonalds. I’m sure the players are ecstatic about the switch; TPC Four Seasons is annually one of the most derided venues on TOUR.
Last week, we called the TPC Sawgrass a “ball strikers course.” This week, same thing. Basically any event where Sergio has experienced a lot of success and Keegan Bradley has won in the past earns that title. Despite being on the short end of PGA courses, just 7,166 yards, TPC Four Seasons has some sneaky length to it that can cause the field problems. Both Par 5s are fairly short (542/546), but there are two daunting Par 4s that provide those hair pulling moments. No. 3 is the most difficult hole on the course. Measuring 528 yards, there were twice as many bogeys/Doubles/Others than birdies in 2016. At 504 yards, No. 15 pairs up with No. 14 to create stumbling blocks for the leaders trying to get into the clubhouse. Four of the final five holes played over par last season, much of which has to do with the bevy of water hazards protecting the putting surfaces.
Like always, gaining strokes through approach, around and on the greens is going to be important, but a glance back at numbers, shows an impressive week driving the ball should have you in contention Sunday afternoon. That doesn’t mean you need to crush the ball off the tee or be something in one of those long-drive competitions, just get yourself to the proper spots to make sure you can minimize the impact the water will have on your second shot.
Finally, watch out for the weather. From the early forecast, wind appears like it’s going to prevalent for the first two days, then IT GONNA RAIN overnight Friday. Two years ago, there was so much rain on the course, No. 14 had to be changed from a Par 4 to a Par 3 and the tournament played as a Par 69 (Niceeeeeeeeee) for the final three rounds. It may not get that bad, but expect the weekend to resemble conditions that year. Also, they didn’t make the Par 4/3 switch until mid-way through round two, and, two years later, I still want DraftKings to give my Gary Woodland ace/albatross points for that hole.
AT&T Bryon Nelson Picks (Yahoo Game)
Dustin Johnson & Patrick Reed – Dustin in the field? Yes? Take him… I feel like Reed has begun to turn the corner. Whether he’s all the way back is TBD, though. It’s all been his approach game. After losing (a lot) of strokes to the field on approach shots every event from February through April (3 MCs – And one DJ – and no finish better than T38 in six starts) Reed has it going the other way his last two times out. He gained 3.8 strokes on the Wells Fargo field with his irons, good for a T12, and another 4.8 at THE PLAYERS en route to a T22. His driving is worrisome, which could be his downfall here, but the rest of game is close and we know Reed can flick the switch and run away with an event. There’s a reason he’s still the No. 15 player in the world.
Jordan Spieth, Sung Kang, Boo Weekley & Charley Hoffman – Spieth. Meh. He’s the class of this group on Yahoo and people may fade him after blowing it at THE PLAYERS. There’s no reason to do that this week… ALL HAIL PRESIDENT KANG!!!! You may have voted for Kodos, but that was unwise. You can play the inspiration angle, with Kang having witnessed countryman Si WOOOOOOO cash a $2M novelty check last week, but I prefer the recent form + stats argument. Kang has played five straight weekends, with three T11s in that stretch, doing it, exactly the way you’d want for this track: Par 4 Scoring, gaining strokes off the tee, and a consistent putter… Call Boo a hunch. He’s a proven Texas player (A win at the Byron Nelson would give him the DFW SLAM), gains strokes on the tee box, and remains a world class ball striker…It’s Texas and it’s Charley Hoffman. That’s good enough for me. Should be for you too.
Jason Dufner & Tony Finau – Brooks and Sergio will be on close to 90% of rosters this week, so I’ll pivot in another direction. I’ve always claimed that Finau is 85% Brooks, so if one’s skill set translates well for a layout, the other’s should too. At least theoretically. Finau’s never finished worse than 12th in two starts at the Byron Nelson, and trails only Sergio for the most strokes gained off the tee over their past 12 rounds. He’s sixth in SG on Par 4s over his past 24 rounds, sits T7 in Ball Striking for the season, fourth from the key P3 range, and, weirdly, is Top 10 in SG: Putting at this course of those in the field. Obviously not a great putter, Finau has rolled it better on Bentgrass in his short career… Dufner is opposite of Finau in many ways, until they get to the greens. Finau mashes it off the tee, Dufner just hits every fairway. Fortunately, both methods work in Dallas. Dufner won this event in 2012, hasn’t missed a cut in any of the past six years, and has his OTT/P4 game peaking right now. He’s been close lately, and the flat stick has let him down. Eventually, he’s going to string it all together all four rounds, and this seems like the perfect place. If you can’t stomach those guys and still want a contrarian option, go Graham DeLaet.
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