AT&T is the sponsor of the match play. They were the sponsors of Tiger’s event. They’re the sponsors on Jordan Spieth’s golf bag. Unlike their cell phone coverage (I’m a customer), they’re everywhere.
Including this week’s Byron Nelson.
Hosted at the TPC Four Season just outside Dallas, TX, it’s an event which represents one of the great (and perhaps underrated) men in the history of golf– Lord Byron. At one point, winning 11 events in a row and beating Ben Hogan into oblivion before retiring from the sport, Byron Nelson was more than just a great golfer. He was a humanitarian, a man built from great faith and a family structure, which he upheld against to all other priorities his celebrity life lent itself. It’s an honor to celebrate the man this week.
As for Dallas, it’s the only city to host two PGA Tour events and this event is one of only two events on the Tour to be named after a former player (the other being the API). So aside from being played at a largely forgettable course with a slew of forgettable past champions, this event has some unique traits heading into the week.
As for Jason Day, he has reached the pinnacle of the golfing world after his win at the PLAYERS, but it all started at the Byron in 2010–his first.
And don’t forget Jordan Spieth bobble head.
On Saturday, May. 21, Jordan Spieth bobbleheads will be given out to the first 8,000 fans at the AT&T Byron Nelson. pic.twitter.com/utKaaDntY5
— Joe Trahan (@JoeTrahan) May 16, 2016
Last Year’s Top-10
Click here for a link to the entire 2016 HP Byron Nelson field via PGATour.com.
Last 5 Champs
- 2015: Steven Bowditch
- 2014: Brendon Todd
- 2013: Sang-Moon Bae
- 2012: Jason Dufner
- 2011: Keegan Bradley
Course Overview: TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas
A Jay Morrish design with consultation from Ben Crenshaw and Byron Nelson, it opened in 1986, designed as a stadium course. In 2007, the course underwent a massive overhaul with the green complexes changing significantly and run-offs around the greens. The re-design also hoped to bring more ponds and trees into play.
It’s a par-70 course and there isn’t a hole I can definitively claim to memory. Not to say it’s a forgettable course, but…it just doesn’t stick out to me.
This Week’s Picks
Three From the Fairway
Back-to-back top-10s in two appearances here at the Byron (2015 & 2013). Before missing the CUT at the PLAYERS, he was one of the hottest players on Tour, even though he’d recently shaved off the mullet.
Heading into the PLAYERS, Hoffman had gained strokes with his putter in 4 straight events and for the season, ranks 36th on the Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. His overall game has been about as good as any on the Tour.
Armed with a 2nd place finish here last year (4 shots behind Bowditch’s 18-under), and good vibes going in, I like Hoffman for another solid, horse for the course week. Top-25 for Hoffman.
Here’s a quote from Dustin Johnson, provided by Josh Culp, on the Byron and the TPC Four Seasons:
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don’t know. I’ve always liked the golf course. I think it’s a fun course to play. Got to hit all kinds of shot. If you’re hitting the ball well you can make a lot of birdies.
You know, I think this is the first time I’ve played it when it was soft. You know, usually it’s firm and fast, which I really enjoy. You know, I’m hitting a lot more drivers off the tee than normal. Usually the fairways are so firm that I hit quite a few irons off the tees but this week wherever the ball flies is where it’s stopping. Just some — only difference is hitting a lot more club off the tee. -2015
When looking at a player who will be highly-owned and presents the highest likelihood for winning this event, your guy is Dustin Johnson. Since 2009, he’s never finished outside the top-20 in this event and has locked top-10s in 4 of his past 5 showings. Statistically, I don’t need to write about how he’s “long” or that he’s “been putting well.” If you need statistics for why Dustin will play well here, you’re simply thinking too hard.
The Texas native is a guy to look at every time an event comes to the Lone Star state (or when a course favors long ball hitters who hit the ball high). When looking at Palmer, his history here has been an interesting one. In 4 events from 2007-2010, he missed the CUT in every playing, however since, he’s made the course look like home. Four top-25s in his last five starts have left him in a favorable position heading into the 2016 Byron.
He’s gained a ton of strokes on the field (33.9 of them to be exact) here since 2010. In 2016, he’s 11th in driving distance (which will help him here) and 19th on the Tour in birdie or better percentage.
I’m hitting Palmer this week and looking for a nice like T13 finish when it’s all said and done.
Bonus players to Watch:
- Danny Lee: Lives only three minutes from the course. Has played well lately.
- Matt Kuchar: Played great at the PLAYERS, near win. Hasn’t missed a cut here at the Byron.
This week, I’m going to take a break from writing our USGolfTV preview (my picks continue below), to introduce a new contributor to our site, Ryan Rauch. Ryan is the owner of the Sports Monte and provides fantastic weekly picks complete with Draft Kings analyses for the DK players. Dude knows the game and provides excellent insights.
Here he is!
Draft Kings Picks from the Sports Monte
by the Sports Monte
Below are five strong plays for both GPP and cash games.
Remember, cashing in DFS games is about three things: having all six guys make the cut (generally), rostering the eventual champion (or at least a medalist), and finding low ownership percentages on your rostered players. Not every “value” pick is a good pick when half of your contest also has that player rostered.
None of the below players are the top tier “favorites,” but are great compliments to roster alongside whichever high-dollar player you roster.
5. Aaron Baddeley ($7,200) – Year-in and year-out, Aaron Baddeley has been one of the best putters on Tour. TPC Four Seasons is a course that rewards strong play around the green, and Baddeley is eighth in strokes gained putting and tenth in scrambling. On top of that, he’s seventh in par 4 scoring, which is a key stat on a par 70 course. While he missed the cut last year, he finished in 29th the year before (when the course wasn’t under water) and has two top ten finishes in his last six events.
4. Jason Dufner ($9,100) – Dufner has three top ten finishes in the last five years at this event and hasn’t missed a cut in that time. In 2012, Dufner won this event by shooting four rounds in the 60’s (something each champion has done since then). Dufner makes a lot of birdies and is a pure ball striker, which will be key for him this week. He hasn’t been playing his best golf recently, but that will scare some people away from him. He’s as safe of a bet as there is in the field to make the cut and could contend if his flat stick starts working.
3. Colt Knost ($7,800) – “The Round Mound of Pound” has quietly been putting together a strong run of finishes lately. Knost has made five straight cuts, including a T3 last week at the Players, which was his best finish of the season. His best finish last year was also at the Byron Nelson, where he sandwiched a 65-66 in between a couple of 68’s for a T10 finish. Knost ranks inside the top 20 on tour in strokes gained putting, driving accuracy, and scrambling, and should again be a factor come Sunday.
2. Tim Wilkinson ($6,800) – Wilkinson is a strong statistical fit for TPC Four Seasons. He leads the tour in scrambling, is seventh in par 4 scoring, and ninth in strokes gained putting. He’s missed the cut at this event in three of five tries, but the two times he’s made the cut have been top 25 finishes. He’s made four straight cuts, three of which he’s finished inside the top 30, including an 11th place finish at the Wells Fargo two weeks ago. You want to roster players who get stronger the closer to the green they get, and Wilkinson excels on and around the greens.
1. Scott Piercy ($8,000) – Piercy is one of the best bets in the field to win the event due in large part to his combination of solid course history (three top 26 finishes before a WD in the middle of the second round last year) and recent play (five straight top 30 finishes). Frankly, I’m shocked at how low his price is and worry he’ll be one of the highest owned players in the field in both GPP and cash games. Still, Piercy is one of the stronger wind players on tour, which will help him on this relatively flat track. He ranks 24th on tour in birdie or better percentage, and 42nd par 4 scoring.
Ryan Rauch is the owner and lead writer for Sports Monte, a fantasy sports website that provides proven research for season-long and DFS games. He has played golf his whole life and lives and works out of Columbus, Ohio. For more information, follow @SportsMonte on Twitter.
One From the Rough
He’s been playing great golf and for a minute there, he was peeking around the leaderboard at the PLAYERS with one announcer saying, “if he can find a putter, he’ll be around late on Sunday.” It was that Saturday which rendered a 78 and a plummet down the leaderboard for Boo. A nice bounce back round of 69 on Sunday placed him inside the top-20.
His play this year has been sporadic. Where he misses a cut here, he locks a top-20 there. He sprinkles in a lot of T35s in there, as well. At the Byron, Boo has been even more sporadic. His past 3 seasons have looked like this: 85, 5, CUT. I’m banking on the 5th place in 2014.
For Boo, it’s all about the flat stick. In the two events he’s finished highest in so far this year (PLAYERS and Waste Management), he’s actually lost strokes with his putter. Incredible.
This isn’t a pick to inspire a ton of confidence, but for a sleeper, Boo might be the way to look this week. Low ownership, low price, and coming off a nice week at TPC Sawgrass.
The Man with the Trophy
He’s a player who’s quietly played some fantastic golf as of late, with three top-15s in his last 4 starts on Tour. Since March, he’s gained strokes with his putter at every event he’s played (practically, with a -.007 at Valero), including a 1.977 performance last week at the PLAYERS en route to a T12. He’s also 8th in Strokes Gained around the green so far in 2016.
He’s not just about the putting though. He’s 38th on the Tour in total strokes gained and while only averaging 279 yards per drive, he’s still inside the Tour’s top-80 in strokes gained tee-to-green. Things are trending up for the former collegiate star from Georgia Tech.
Two top-25s here at the Byron since 2009 and a good record in Texas have him coming in and feeling good. In 2011, the 37-year old won his lone event on the PGA Tour and this week, he’ll add number two. Is this the weirdest pick for a winner you’ve seen in any of your previews?
The Byron Nelson has a tendency to crown odd champions, as many players who win here are rarely heard from again.
In Molder though, I think he’s a player that fits the “mold” for a winner. I’m sorry for that joke.