Expert Picks for HP Byron Nelson Championship
This event made its debut on the PGA Tour in 1926, becoming a staple in the Tour schedule in the 1940's. Since that time it has enjoyed status as one of the more illustrious non-major events of the season, and while the elite golfers continue to shorten their schedules (making this week's field one of the more vulnerable this event has ever known), the history associated with the Byron Nelson is long and storied with the list of former champions revealing some of the game's greats. Sam Snead, Jack Nicholas, and Tom Watson have all ruled this track for extended periods of time, though recent seasons and a diminishing list of elite competitors taking part has allowed this event to become a bit of a stomping ground for young, talented golfers on the rise (see Jason Day last season). While the Byron Nelson is steeped in tradition, the host venue -- the TPC Four Seasons in Irving, Texas -- may be one of the more recently-constructed tracks we will see on Tour this season. The Four Seasons Resort underwent massive and comprehensive redesign just a few short years ago, formed by the hands of former PGA Tour champion D.A. Weibring along with architect Steve Wolfard of Golf Resources Group. The desire was simple: Bring the PGA Tour to the greater Dallas area, and this course has done just that, maintaining its connections to history while strengthening the challenge for the golfers of today. The original design was constructed in 1983 under the watchful guidance of both Byron Nelson and Ben Crenshaw, using indigenous oak and mesquite trees as the setting for one of the more colorful TPC designs. However, the Weibring and Wolfard vision was just built in May of 2007, adding length and additional risk/reward contemplation via strategic hole construction and obstructions. Thus the course is quite a bit different from the track producing leaderboards you might review prior to '07. Recent trends suggest there is benefit to prodigious length, and you'll note some of the names found in (and out) this season's field suggest power could be of benefit once again.
Dustin Johnson [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #22
DJ returns to the PGA scene and we are quick to jump back on the bandwagon. He's enjoyed positive work at this TPC track in the past, he is rested, and gets a field lacking in star quality and competition. This should be prime real estate for DJ to shine.
Ben Crane [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #144
Crane has been at the top of our wish list for the Byron Nelson for a couple of years, touting one of the best long-term records of performance on the links of the TPC Four Seasons. He returns this season and we want to insure you give him as much respect as he commands on this track.
Matt Kuchar [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #11
The Kuch is back and ready to serve once again, and while he came up just short in his work at Colonial (finishing one stroke shy of the top ten), he was once again in view of the top of the final leaderboard and could have easily made a charge to compete with a few breaks on Sunday. We have every reason to believe he'll be right back to it this week in Texas.
Jason Day [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #8
The defending champ doesn't boast the momentum we had hoped would evolve at Colonial coming in, but he's still the defending champ and one of the more talented kids on the Tour. Day is known for going long, and on this updated version of the TPC Sawgrass, this is of definite benefit.
Nick Watney [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #140
There may not be a better golfer for wager in the crowd, and all he lacks is history. Watney is capable of low scores on every track he hits these days and, much more often than not, he is doing just that. Watney has all the game needed to do work at the Four Seasons and he needs to be respected for it.
Sergio Garcia [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #6
Garcia appears to be headed toward positive ground with two majors dead ahead and several positive finishes in the books. He should be a favorite for anyone seeking momentum over a vulnerable field.
Verplank waited until late in the week to withdraw at Colonial, indicating he had hopes of swinging throughout the Texas arm of the Tour schedule. The nature and severity of the injury are unknown, and if he can play, we want him on the roster.
Carl Pettersson [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #179
Pettersson has been as reliable as any member of the game's grinding class. However, we are raising the stakes this week at the Four Seasons where his history stands out. He knows and loves this track.
Sean O'Hair [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #156
Slowly but surely we see the rising talent out of Texas shooting up weekly leaderboards. With the Tour hitting his home state, we review his body of work at the TPC Four Seasons and the lack of stars in the field and suggest this could be his week.
Charley Hoffman [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #74
Hoffman is another member of our course-specific list for the Four Seasons, but he also happens to rank as one of the more reliable golfers on the set. We love him any time the Tour swings south and this may be the best opportunity to employ him.
K.J. Choi [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #125
Choi has victory in his recent memory and gave a sizable chunk of his earnings to relief efforts in Japan. The karma could come back his way if he can carry that momentum into the Byron Nelson.
We are extremely low on proven star power at the Byron Nelson this week, marking Allenby as one of the best in the bunch. His resume at the Four Seasons is mixed, but his ability to conquer fields of this nature has long been established.