HP Byron Nelson Championship
TPC Four Seasons Resort-Las Colinas
TPC Four Seasons Resort-Las Colinas
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Bentgrass; 6,000 square feet on average.
Rough: Bermudagrass at 2.25”
Water Hazards: 8
Course Architect: Jay Morrish (1986); D.A. Weibring & Steve Wolford (2008)
Winner’s Share: $1,242,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Sang-moon Bae defeated Keegan Bradley to win for the first time on TOUR
Dates: May 15-18
Notes: TPC Four Seasons Resort-Las Colinas has been the exclusive course to this tournament since 2008. Any historical data before this time will be omitted as TWO courses shared this tournament.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 20 of 26 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar and J.B. Holmes have added trophies for the USA. Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed four victories along with South Korean Seung-yul Noh. After querying about the lack of Euro winners this season, Kaymer decides to break the duck by winning the biggest payday of them all!
With his victory at Zurich, Noh joined Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley and Matt Jones as the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had seven in 26 events in 2014.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, flew the flag before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Since the first major, Matt Kuchar (37) and J.B. Holmes (32) have also added to the Prime Timers.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26), Russell Henley (24) and Seung-Yul Noh (22) all welcome Martin Kaymer, 29, to the twenty-something party!
Australian John Senden, 42, won at Tampa Bay for the only W for the “Old Guys” this season. For the second week in a row Jim Furyk needed the leader to miss a four-footer on the final hole to get into a playoff. He’s playing awfully well for an “old” guy. Another solid “oldie”, Lee Westwood, 41, continued his steady play with a T6 as well.
Pay Attention: It’s FREE!
The HPBNC has been a TOUR fixture since 1944 making it the ninth-longest running event on TOUR.
Only four players have won on their first try and that includes three of the last four winners. Ernie Els (1995), Jason Day (2010), Keegan Bradley (2011) and Sang-moon Bae are the only names on this list.
In addition to Day, Bradley and Bae, Robert Damron (2001), Ted Purdy (2005) and Brett Wetterich have broken their TOUR maidens on this course. Only Day and Bradley have gone on to win another TOUR event.
Since moving exclusively to Las Colinas, the world has been represented. USA (Keegan Bradley 2011) and Australia have won twice (Adam Scott 2008; Jason Day 2010) while South Africa (Rory Sabbatini 2009) and South Korea (Bae 2013) all have a victory as well.
Only Sabbatini and Bae have put all four rounds in the 60s of these five winners. #grind
Since moving exclusively to Las Colinas, only the 2008 edition needed a playoff to decide the winner.
Only Tom Watson has defended the title at HPBNC as he made it a turkey with back-to-back-to-back victories in 1978-80.
The course record is 60, set by Keegan Bradley in 2013 on Thursday en route to a solo second finish.
Rory Sabbatini blitzed Las Colinas in 2009 to the tune of 19-under-par 261.
Adam Scott’s 7-under is the highest winning score since the move to Las Colinas and this was in the inaugural year as solo host.
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson are the only players on TOUR with multiple victories in the 2013-14 season. Of the three, two have a chance to add to their bounties this week. Watson is not in the field.
As of Monday evening 15 of the top 50 players in the OWGR are scheduled to tee it up this week.
Past Champions in the Field
2013 Sang-moon Bae -13
2012 Jason Dufner -11
2011 Keegan Bradley -13
2010 Jason Day -10
2009 Rory Sabbatini -19
2008 Adam Scott -7
2007 Scott Verplank*
2003 Vijay Singh*
*played on multiple courses
Inside the Ropes
Established in 1944, the HPBNC has been the ninth-oldest event on TOUR and one of four in the Texas Swing. No player has ever won the Texas Grand Slam in a season, let alone a career, and that streak will continue this year as Steven Bowditch won the Valero Texas Open and Matt Jones won the Shell Houston Open.
The Byron Nelson was named after the legendary golfer and was the first TOUR event to be named after a former player. Nelson won the inaugural event in 1944 by 10 shots. Sam Snead would win three of the next five. The “other” winners in that stretch were Peter Thomson and Ben Hogan. I can stop typing now, right?
TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas designed in the early 80s by Jay Morrish but it was the 2007-08 redesign that is what the players face today. D.A. Weibring and Steve Wolford have tilted greens, brought tree-lined fairways into play and have added water to add to an already tough challenge. During this renovation and redesign, all of the green complexes, bunkers and tee boxes were rebuilt to handle the rigors of all four rounds of a TOUR event. The par-70 course only has two par-fives to attack but the winner has posted all four rounds in the 60s 13 of the last 19 times to win here.
Any time the ball is teed up in Texas, weather, mainly wind, will be a focus. We’ve learned spring time in Texas brings blustery conditions and the chance of thunderstorms. Prevailing winds this time of year blow from the south but if the applecart is upset and the winds blow from the north, look out!
The average winning score here since the move to one course in 2008 is just a hair over 12-under. Las Colinas has been found to be quite a fair and tough challenge over the last six years. Here’s how the course has stacked up:
2013: 18th-most difficult; +.413 strokes over par
2012: 14th; +1.087
2011: 5th; +2.354
2010: 12th; +.790
2009: 30th; -.315
2008: 7th; +2.028
As noted above, three of the last five winners have gone on to win major championships and four of the five winners have been in their 20s. This tells us gamers that this course isn’t difficult to get accustomed to but it does take some pedigree to rack up a W around here. This course reminds me a bit of Innisbrook and I bet Sang-Moon Bae would tell you the same thing since he was P2 there to Luke Donald in 2012 and the winner here last year.
Tree-lined fairways will reward those who find the short stuff and GIR is a priority this week. Of the top 32 players over the last two years, only five of them were outside the top 28 in GIR. Since there are only two par fives this week, players are going to have to avoid bogeys and make birdies on par fours. Toss in a little weather, a little water and the ghost of Lord Byron hovering around and this should be another close, exciting finish. Remember, 17 of the last 46 winners (since 1968) have been victorious in a playoff.