HP Byron Nelson Championship
TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas
TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas
Yards: 7,166 as per the scorecard
Par: 70 (35-35)
Rough: Bermudagrass at 2.25”
Water Hazards: 8
Course Architect: Jay Morrish (1986); D.A. Weibring and Steve Wolford (2008).
Winner’s Share: $1,206,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Jason Dufner defeated Dicky Pride by one shot for his second victory of 2012 and second of his career.
Dates: May 16-19
Notes: Gamers, this tournament was played on TWO courses before TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas took all four rounds in 2008. Course history stats for me will pertain from 2008 forward.
The HP Byron Nelson has been hosting TOUR events since 1944, making it the ninth-oldest event. It is also the first event on TOUR named after a former player. Lord Byron won 11 times in one season back in the 40’s. And you thought Tiger Woods was having a good year! Nelson was known as one of the great gentlemen in the game of golf and is a legend in these parts. He spent his later years sitting in the shade just off the 18th green to thank the players for coming and playing. Shouldn’t that have been the other way around?
Tom Watson and Bruce Lietzke are the only multiple winners in the last 40 years.
Only Ernie Els (1995), Jason Day (2010) and Keegan Bradley (2011) won in their first attempt. Still, that’s two of the last four winners so don’t rule out the first-timers completely.
Since 2000, Robert Damron (2001), Ted Purdy (2005), Brett Wetterich (2007), Jason Day (2010) and Keegan Bradley (2011) have made TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas their first wins on TOUR. Only Bradley has won another TOUR event over time. Weird.
There are eight former champions in the field this week.
Jason Dufner 2012
Keegan Bradley 2011
Jason Day 2010
Rory Sabbatini 2009
Scott Verplank 2007
Vijay Singh 2003
Jesper Parnevik 2000
Neal Lancaster 1994
Jason Dufner was first in fairways hit and second in GIR last year. All righty then!
Since 1968, 17 of the 45 winners here have won in a playoff. That’s the highest percentage of playoffs in an event on TOUR in that time frame. #ExtraGolf
In 2013 10 of the 18 stroke-play events this season the 54-hole leader (or co-leader) have gone on to victory. This is the SIXTH week in a row where the 54-hole leader(s) have not held up their end of the bargain as Phil Mickelson faded to third and Nick Watney leaked to T10.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR TIMES (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26) and Ernst (22). The young folks (30 and younger) now have eight victories; the 30-somethings have nine victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have their two wins. Jeff Maggert was flying the flag last week for the old folks with T2.
Rank and File
What a difference a week makes! After 46 of the OWGR top 50 teed it up last week, just 11 of the top 50 are playing this week.
Designed by Jay Morrish in 1986 and completely renovated by D.A. Weibring and Steve Wolford in 2008, TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas has taken on the natural surroundings in the Dallas area. Tree-lined fairways that are tough to hit, rugged bunkers that swallow errant tee and iron shots are prevalent and there’s just enough water in play to keep you on your toes. Once on the greens, the undulations will test even the steadiest of strokes on TOUR.
TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas has ranked 14th-hardest in 2012; 5th in 2011; 12th in 2010; 30th in 2009; 7th in 2008. Rory Sabbatini turned this place upside-down in 2009 when he scorched it for a tournament record 261 (19-under-par). Keegan Bradley has seen the “other” side as he ground out a 277 (three-under-par) in his first victory on TOUR here in 2011. Stuck in the middle of all of this is the average winning score which has been 10-under since 2008. I prefer courses where par is a fair score instead of birdie-fests!
The winning formula for me this week will be guys who strike the golf ball solidly from tee to green. These fairways are tough to hit so guys will have to find the greens from places other than the fairway as well this week. With par-70 in play, those who are par-four players will also be on my radar since two par-fives are missing. Guys who can make birides on the par-fives will be rewarded but they only have two chances each round to cash. If they don’t take advantage of the only two par-fives, they are going to have to make it up somewhere else. If you look at the list of previous winners from this course, only Jason Dufner stands out as a guy who doesn’t “kill” it off the tee and he’s not “short” by any means. The farther you drive it, the closer your second shot, right?
I’ll also take a look at guys who have had success in Texas during this time of year when the wind can blow. Australians are famous for playing in the wind and it’s not a surprise Day, Scott and Leishman have done well here. On the contrary, Dufner and Bradley don’t jump out as wind players, yet they have solved the riddle as well. Day, Bradley and even Ernie Els have won in their first times at this event so don’t completely dismiss any young up-and-comers this week!
Let see who’s going to factor this week.
Top 10, Plus One
Jason Day: In three events here Day has finished T9, fifth and W. Shall I continue? In 10 events this season he has banged four top 10s. His length off the tee and his short game (14th scrambling; 20th strokes gained-putting) will be on full display this week as he should be the clear favorite.
Marc Leishman: Another Aussie jumps to the top of this list and it’s not hard to see why. Leishman has been buoyed by his 2012 victory at the Travelers and his game has blossomed in 2013. His last three outings are T8, T9 and T4 on some very difficult golf courses (Sawgrass, Harbour Town, Augusta) so he’s flying right now. He lands this week in a place he’s very comfortable as he’s registered T3, MC, T12 and T8 in his four starts here. If it gets windy, the advantage for him is even greater as he’s proven before.
Jimmy Walker: THIS IS A RECORDING. You know how I feel about Walker. I have two Yahoo! starts on him remaining. He rewarded my patience last week with a 67 in the final round at TPC Sawgrass with a co-low Sunday 67. It could have been 65 except for his ball in the water on No. 17! He will be making his sixth start in a row here and has made all five cuts. He’s also made 22 cuts on the bounce, best on TOUR. He’s first on TOUR in par four performance.
D.A. Points: Here’s another player right now in fine form as Points recovered from a nothing winter to fully blossom this spring. Victory at SHO was backed a month later with a runner-up at Zurich. Instead of fading he posted T16 at Quail Hollow and only had one off round in a T48 at THE PLAYERS. In four appearances here since 2008 he’s four-for-four including finishes of T19, T40, T7 and third. Giddy up!
Jason Dufner: The international man of mystery remains mysterious this season. Currently, he’s better known for “Dufnering” than actually putting the ball in the hole but as his friend Bubba Watson has been known to remark: #golfishard. This time last year he was just coming off a T60-something THE PLAYERS and a honeymoon when he put it all together to win for the second time in 2012. He’s more than capable of having a great ball-striking week because he has the talent. His putter will need to cooperate to give him a shot to repeat. In the last 40 years, only Nicklaus and Watson have repeated at this event.
Ryan Palmer: HA! If Palmer thinks he’s going to fool me again, he’s nuts! Last year, in this very column, I stated that Palmer should be avoided because he missed six of seven cuts and his P2 was the exception not the rule. He finished T9. Last week, Palmer was in the exact same part of the column because he had played the TPC Sawgrass seven times, missed six cuts and his best finish was T75. He finished T5. YOU WIN. I surrender! Get this native Texan in your lineup this week! He’s 20th in par-four scoring and 17th in ball-striking.
Charl Schwartzel: He’s sixth in scoring average on TOUR but hasn’t broke 70 in his last 12 rounds. He’ll have no trouble on the greens as he’s one of the best putters around and his distance off the tee won’t hurt either. He’s been handling the par-fours well and has too much class to dismiss as a first-timer here.
Matt Kuchar: Anytime he’s in the field, he’s on this list. His last two times to this part of Dallas he’s banged out T15 and T6 so this course fits his eye quite well. Kuchar’s short game on and around the greens has been his stabilizer this year as he’s struggled tee-to-green(side). He’s still found a way to make 15 cuts in a row and is 17th in scoring average on TOUR. Class player.
Keegan Bradley: Along with Jason Day, Bradley has shown young guys with mad skills can win here in their first time as he did in 2011. The new question with Bradley is when the slump is going to end. I’m guessing this week as his course history here is T24 and Win. He had a streak of T10, T3, seventh and T4 that he backed up with T54 (Augusta), MC (Zurich) and MC (THE PLAYERS). At the Masters, it was a Saturday 82. At Zurich it was a second round 74 (after opening 69). Last week, it was Friday back nine of 42. Gulp.
Ben Crane: He’s now hit the top 10 in two of his last four starts and his “horse-for-courseness” last week was rewarded with T8. He’s made the cut here in his last three and was T7 in 2010 so I like that as well. I also like that he was par or better in all four round last week at another tough track. Once a hot putter gets rolling, roll with him.
Fredrik "Freddie" Jacobson: Ah, The Junkman. Will he WD or will he play? I’m going with play this week as he completed four rounds last week at THE PLAYERS coming back from his latest niggle. He’s eighth on TOUR in scoring average and enjoys a nice grind on difficult layouts. His putting and scrambling are off the charts so let’s hope his medical chart is not needed this week!