A DFS Look at the course and field for this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson
Course: Trinity Forest (Dallas, Texas)
Yardage: 7,380 – Par 71
Purse : $7.5 M
Field: 152 players
*Past AT&T Byron Nelson Champions
|2013||Sang Moon Bae|
The 2018 PLAYERS Championship marked an end to Webb Simpson’s winning drought that dated to October of 2013. Simpson was outstanding for three straight days, gathering a seven-shot lead with rounds of 66, 63, and 68. Going into Sunday it was already a done deal. Simpson got around TPC Sawgrass without any disasters, and took home the crystal trophy by four strokes, even after dropping one in the water on 18. Simpson’s PLAYERS win is his first victory since the “anchoring” method to putting was outlawed. It’s been a series of ups and downs since his last victory in 2013, but this win now puts a stamp on Simpson’s career as a player who could win big tournaments. In his fifth career PGA win, three of the five have been in the strongest of fields; a major (U.S. Open), a FedEx playoff win (Deutsche Bank Championship), and now a PLAYERS Championship.
The finish may have been anticlimactic, but there were some decent side stories to keep it interesting over the weekend. The Tiger Woods fireworks were on full display over the weekend. After barely making the cut on the number, Tiger charged his way up the leaderboard for two straight days, beginning his first 12 holes with eight birdies on Saturday, and six on Sunday. Woods reached as high as second place, before shooting 3-over for his final five holes that included him dropping one in the water at the famous 17th. He finished T11.
Also, we have a new number one ranked golfer in the world! Dustin has been replaced by Justin now. At age 25, Justin Thomas is the new number one ranked golfer in the world. Dustin Johnson’s final round 72 may have cost him the number one spot as Thomas was able to sneak ahead of him with a final round 66. Johnson held the number one spot for 64 weeks, or about 15 months. Don’t be surprised if the two may do a little do-si-do at the top for awhile. Unless one really outplays the other going forward, the standings are still very close and Johnson could be number one in the world with a good finish in his next event.
This week’s AT&T Byron Nelson will include:
—Two of the world’s top-10 players
—Four of the world’s top-20 players
—Six of the world’s top-30 players
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) May 14, 2018
Preview: We won’t have as big of a dip in field strength as we did the week after the Masters, but obviously the drop-off from a tournament that had all Top 50 golfers in the world playing will be severe. Jordan Spieth will headline the field as the heavy favorite. He’s the lowest-ranked golfer in the field (third in the world), and is also a member at Trinity Forest.
Along with Spieth, Sergio Garcia, Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Kuchar, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott, Branden Grace, and the recently skyrocketing Jimmy Walker will all be in Dallas this week.
After that group, the next tier of players looks something like: Charles Howell III, Bill Haas, Brandt Snedeker, Beau Hossler, Satoshi Kodaira, Kevin Na, Ryan Palmer, James Hahn, Aaron Wise, Russell Knox, Grayson Murray, Peter Uihlein, J.B. Holmes and Scott Piercy.
Held previously at TPC Four Seasons, the Byron Nelson moves to a new home at Trinity Forest Golf Club. Designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, Trinity Forest lies on the grounds of a former landfill, and ironically it’s a treeless links course. The course officially opened in the fall of 2016, and is making its first appearance on Tour, so without any data from past years, we’ll have to do some digging, gather whatever information we can, and make assumptions about how the course will play.
Although it’s a tree-less links course, in an interview, Spieth claimed that although this is a links-style course, it’s more beneficial to fly the ball onto greens rather than to run it up. The fairways have been described as “very large”. The approach shot should hold a lot more value than the tee-shot, making strokes gained: approach one of the most relevant statistics to use. The course has shortened a 537 yard par 5 for members to a 471 yard par 4 for the pros. That means there will be 11 par 4s this week. Outside of the driveable 315 yard 5th hole, the other 10 par 4s play out to 410 yards or longer and with three of the par 3s playing over 200 yards, Par 4 scoring and approach proximity 200-225 yards, look like the way to get a jump on the rest of the field.
The course is heavily undulated, which means that course management and good ball striking are key to keeping scores low. Unfamiliar players need to get accustomed to the bowl-shaped greens and the contours on and around the greens. If you’ve watched certain golf events, most notably the Masters, you’ll see the value on course knowledge combined with solid ball striking when a player drops an iron shot right into the correct spot funneling the ball down to the hole. While the greens will be nothing like Augusta’s, the courses contours will come into play on virtually every shot from tee to green, so finding players who gain a lot of strokes from tee to green should be beneficial.
Ultimately, we don’t know what kind of scores will go up this week, or whether or not the course is susceptible to harsh weather conditions, (North Texas is known to get pretty windy at least once over a four-day span) and how much value to put on putting. The best way to going about putting together a DFS roster for this week is to find the players who gain a lot of strokes ball striking, take a look at who’s playing well lately, and maybe grab a guy or two from the Dallas/Ft Worth area, as they’ll most likely be the only players with any experience at this course.
Strokes gained: approach
Par 4 Scoring
Approach Proximity 200-225 yards
Strokes gained: Tee-to-green
Featured Image: (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)