With the PLAYERS Championship in the rear view, the PGA Tour is now on the road to the U.S. Open, with the first stop being the HP Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons-Las Colinas in Irving, Texas.
2013 Byron Nelson Championship Fact Sheet
- Course: TPC Four Seasons-Las Colinas
- Location: Irving, Texas
- Yardage: 7,166 yards, par 70
- Defending Champion: Jason Dufner
- Five Consensus Favourites: Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Charl Schwartzel
- Thursday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday – 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
- Sunday – 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
Key Storyline This Week
What is going on with Jason Dufner? After appearing to have his breakout campaign on the PGA Tour in 2012, the only thing that Dufner has been able to do successfully in 2013 is start an internet meme. His best finish so far this year was a tie for 12th at the WGC-Cadillac, and he’s coming off of his worst result of the year, finishing tied for 62nd at the PLAYERS after an awful final round of 8-over par 80. It was here last year where he picked up his second PGA Tour win, following up his tie for 8th back in 2011. If he’s going to break out of this funk, this week appears to be the most likely time for it. One other small thing to keep an eye on is a pair of sponsor’s exemptions given to two players at completely opposite ends of their golfing careers: John Daly and Guan Tianlang.
TPC Four Seasons-Las Colinas
The course itself has been around since 1982, but underwent major overhauls in 2007 as this event went from being held at two separate venues to being contested exclusively at Las Colinas. Even after the redesign and lengthening, the course has remained a par-70, and it has been one of the more difficult tracks on the PGA Tour since those renovations were completed ahead of the 2008 tournament. That could be why in the last five years, we’ve seen five solid champions in this event in Adam Scott, Rory Sabbatini, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley and Dufner, as opposed to some other events which don’t always produce a long line of established champions. The biggest factor at Las Colinas will be the wind, with steady gusts expected throughout the week of 20-30 km/h. Those who can handle the high winds will be in a much better position to score.
Thoughts on the favourites
- Jason Day: Hard not to like Day this week, as outside of that win in 2010, he’s posted top-10 finishes in both of his other two appearances at the course. Had a good week at the PLAYERS with a T-19 finish.
- Matt Kuchar: Kuchar’s record at Las Colinas isn’t great, with two top-15 finishes in five tries, but he rarely puts himself in a position where he’s out of a tournament. Just a really solid player that you expect to stick around every week.
- Jason Dufner: Still seeking his first top-10 on the PGA Tour this year, despite two early in the year in the Middle East. With his track record here, I won’t be surprised, but I’m staying away.
- Keegan Bradley: It may not seem like it, but Bradley actually has five top-10 finishes this year on the PGA Tour. Despite that record, he hasn’t had the type of year that was expected out of him, and he comes into this week with back-to-back missed cuts at the Zurich and PLAYERS.
- Charl Schwartzel: Never played at Las Colinas, and after a sizzling start to 2013, he’s cooled down considerably. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, and is one of the best putters in the field this week.
There really isn’t much in terms of trends to look out for when it comes to past champions. In the last five years, the best finish that a winner had in the previous week of competition was a T-25 by Scott back in 2008. That’s not to say that you should ignore guys who are in good form currently, but it is something to keep in mind. One other thing to note is that both Day and Bradley won this event in their course debuts, while Scott, Dufner and Sabbatini all had prior top-10 finishes before coming away victorious.
Jason Day (Best Odds 14-1 at Coral)
His record here is simply too good to ignore, and with a lesser field due to the bigger names taking the week off, you’re actually getting the favourite here at a pretty good price. I think there’s a good chance that he wins it again, but an each-way bet seems like the play here.
Charl Schwartzel (Best Odds 22-1 at Stan James)
Personally, I think Schwartzel is the most talented player in the field this week, so getting him at 22-1 seems like a no-brainer. Even though he’s cooled down after a great start to his season, his results have been good enough to make me think he’s still feeling pretty good about where he is. The fact that he hasn’t played Las Colinas before makes me a little apprehensive, but that didn’t stop Day and Bradley in the past.
Louis Oosthuizen (Best Odds 22-1 at bet365)
Schwartzel might be the most talented player in the field, but Oosthuizen is probably the best, and there is a difference. You should never be able to get a player of his caliber at 22-1, so I’m jumping on it. Missed the cut in his lone appearance here last year, but has finished inside the top-20 in every other tournament he’s played in the Texas area.
Marc Leishman (Best Odds 25-1 at Spreadex)
Leishman is on a hell of run, with three straight top-10 finishes in difficult events at the Masters, the Heritage and the PLAYERS. He’s flying under the radar a little bit because he’s not the biggest name out there, but in four appearances at this event, he’s posted three top-10′s, including last year’s T-3 where he ended up two shots behind Dufner. He doesn’t do one thing better than anyone, but he’s as solid as there is when it comes to an all-around game.
Ben Crane (Best Odds 50-1 at Coral)
Crane tends to run hot and cold, but one thing that never changes is his ability to roll the ball on the greens. He’s one of the best putters out there, and assuming that the rest of his game is in relative order, he should be good to contend this week. He’s posted two top-10′s in his last four events, including last week at the PLAYERS, and has two top-10′s here in the past, with a runner-up finish in 2002.
Graham DeLaet (Best Odds 100-1 at Ladbrokes)
Once again, DeLaet is my dartboard pick of the week at 100-1. It’s the same story as always with him, as he’s one of the best players on the PGA Tour from tee to green, but he’s a terrible putter. If he gets hot with the flatstick, he’s going to win some tournaments.