PGA TourTournament Previews

HP Byron Nelson Championship Preview

The HP Byron Nelson Championship is to the PGA Tour what the GoDaddy.com Bowl is to College Football. If you didn’t know better, it’s placement on the schedule suggests a big time event, when in reality it’s simply odd schedule-filler fodder for the marquee tournaments nearby as it’s sandwiched on the calendar by Wells Fargo, Players, Colonial and Memorial. In reality, this used to be a bigger stop on the schedule, as evidenced by the girthy list of past champs, both recent and distant.

The field has a few big names scattered amongst it, but so many fully exempt players chose not to play this week that the tournament ended up giving out six spots to players from the 126-150 range that are not fully exempt, as well as seven spots to the “re-order category” (you can read about that here). We’re not complaining about this, as it got our boy Brooks Koepka into the field, but I’m not going to be glued to my couch this weekend.

Course

TPC Four Seasons – Las Colinas 

Before proceeding, in the interest of full disclosure I will go ahead and say that I do work for a rival luxury hotel company (rhymes with Schnitz-Tarlton), which is an obvious rival of Four Seasons in the lux hospitality game. However, any biases I harbor are on the back burner when it comes to golf, as Four Seasons does a fantastic job, and I haven’t been afraid to express disappointment for a couple of the course designs in my company’s portfolio (see: WGC Match Play venue). So, I’m not at all hesitant to proclaim that Dallas deserves a better showcase course than this bland resort course. By all accounts the resort itself is topnotch and the conditions are pristine. However, the course itself was rated the fourth worst course on the entire tour by the players, and was described by an anonymous tour pro (who I always envision to be Jeff Maggert for obvious reasons) as: “The worst course we play on tour. It doesn’t reward a good shot. Just terrible all around.” If that doesn’t get you fired up for this week, I’m not sure what will!

The TPC Four Seasons has somehow hosted this event since 1986 (at one time over two courses in an effort to spread the field out and combat weather-related delays), and despite a redesign in 2007 by D.A. Weibring, I’d imagine the strength of the field speaks volumes about the event. The course is defined by its large and undulating greens, along with manufactured creeks and ponds that scream “resort course” and smack golf purists in the face with their stacks of dollar bills. Although come to think of it, well-manicured, artificial mounding doesn’t sound too out of character for Dallas.

Dallas Cougar

Fear not, MetroPlexuals, as it sounds like Ben Crenshaw & Bill Coore are coming to your rescue by way of Trinity Forest Golf Club (here’s another one). Though there’s a paucity of information on relevant facts like if construction started yet, when the course will open, and when the tournament will relocate, it does seem that this site on a former landfill presents a unique canvas for the Crenshaw & Coore dream team (I’m betting the results will be better than another high profile landfill track – Liberty National). Ironically enough Crenshaw consulted on the original TPC Four Seasons design.

Vibe

NLU‘s longtime MetroPlex correspondent, Andy Staron, was kind enough to sprinkle his local knowledge this week:

Las Colinas (née El Ranchito de Las Colinas) is a perfectly nice, little planned community set in Irving, Texas that is basically 22 million sq ft of office space and some statues of galloping horses that have somehow garnered the tiniest amount of local notoriety (no word on if they’re the same breed as Ricky Barnes). Las Colinas is sandwiched between DFW and Love Field, and the ease with which you can get in/out/get/grab/bonk is probably why it’s home to nearly as many companies as it is people. Dallas sits just to the east, and shares a regional catch-all designation (The Metrolplex) with Fort Worth, and I’ve got to believe the thousands of businessmen keep the multitude of nearby “massage” parlors in business. Ultimately, everybody knows somebody who works in Las Colinas, but I don’t think anybody cares to know shit about it.

Horses for Courses?
Horses for Courses?

Dallas is a sports crazy city with a ton of golfers so I expect a full house, but with Scottie Scheffler in the field. I think the grounds are going to be crawling with Highland Park citizens in particular. What does that mean for the people watching? Just imagine a strong contingent of Matt Stafford and Clayton Kershaw look-alikes milling about (minus the athletic prowess) sporting names like Aiden, Jackson, Reed, and Trip. In that same vein, expect a strong showing from the SMU crowd. The more discerning fans in and around The Metroplex will hold out until next week’s event to fulfill their PGA Tour quota.

We’ll try to get Staron back next week to drop some knowledge on us for the Fort Worth-based Colonial!

Last Year

2013 Byron Nelson Results

Sang-Moon Bae hit a ballsy approach to the 18th on Sunday to seal a two shot win over Keegan Bradley, who struggled on his way to a 72 on Sunday:

2013 Byron Nelson Sang Moon Bae

(GIF courtesy of Adam Sarson, aka the GIF Factory. See the rest of his GIF’s from the 2013 HP Byron Nelson here).

Fantasy/Gambling Insights

(all lines courtesy Ladbrokes.com, the Official Bookmaker of NoLayingUp.com)

Horses for Courses

Jordan Spieth (12/1) – It’s not like us to pick the favorite, but I really think he wins this week. At 12/1, he’s not tremendous value, but here is the approach: Plan on betting him almost every week over the next ten weeks, and just assume he wins one of those tournaments. Assuming he wins one, we’re guaranteed a profit. He’s familiar with this course, having played in this event three of the last four years, including finishing T16 in 2010 as a 16 year old (yeah, that happened).

Martin Kaymer (20/1) – Back to back winners are extremely rare on tour, and for good reason. It’s damn hard to win one tournament, much less two in a row.  It’s also rare of us to pick a guy to repeat, but (shaky, rain-influenced finish aside), Kaymer played absolutely lights out golf on one of golf’s biggest stages. A final round 75 in Charlotte cost him a top-10, or else he would have been on more peoples’ radar last week.  Add in that he finished T5 here a year ago (before he even got his game back in shape), and he’s absolutely worth another look this week.

Jason Dufner (25/1) – Winner here in 2012, another top 10 in 2011, and some signs of life shown in Ponte Vedra last week. He’s using a new counter balanced putter, and could easily catch fire on the greens.  Sometimes it just takes a small change to really light a fire in someone’s game.

Mark Leishman (33/1) – A true horse for course in every sense of the term. He’s got four top 12 finishes in his last five starts here, including a T3 in 2012. His game has been shaky since his T2 at the Farmers earlier this year, but I’d make this play on his track record here alone. Pretty shitty value at this price but track record speaks for itself.

Value Fliers – the value flier approach yielded huge returns last week, let’s go to the well once more with small plays featuring huge upside!

DubP (50/1) – Back to the well. See: previous week’s write-ups. We’re making a small, nominal play on him, per usual.

Jeff Overton (80/1) – He hasn’t made it to a Sunday since his solo 4th at the Zurich Classic, but he’s got a history here that includes a T8 in 2011 and a T2 in 2010. At these odds, and considering how close he was to winning the Zurich, we’ll make this play based on the value and at least try to disregard the fact that he puts off an exceedingly apathetic, lazy, soggy vibe and let his raw talent win you over.

Brooks Koepka (80/1) – As the founders of the Koepka fan club, No Laying Up sees a lot of value in this play, as he makes his first start since gaining special temporary membership on the PGA Tour. He’s finished outside of the top 33 once in his last six starts, and now is his time to get noticed and not have to worry about dealing with exemption snafus ever again.

Robert Streb (80/1) – Five top 32’s in his last six starts, four in the top 23, and a runner up. He’s a K-State grad back in Big12 country. I’ll take him at these odds, with or without the horrific threads.

Angel Cabrera (100/1) – Started hot each of the last two weeks only to fade on the weekend. T-17 here last year suggests a comfort level. At some point he has to win a non-major.

Martin Flores (100/1) – Superb value. Poised, confident and playing a home game this week as he resides in the ‘Plex. Oklahoma grad’s form is as good as it gets. Let’s take a flier here.

The Fringe

  • Scott Verplank is making his 27th career start in this event. That’s over half of a year of your life spent at the HP Byron Nelson Classic! He’s a Dallas resident, but still: 27 weeks of the Byron Nelson Classic kind of sounds like a punishment sentence along the lines of community service.
  • Patrick Cantlay is making his first start of the year due to a back injury that’s had him sidelined for months – he’s much too young to be dealing with lumbar issues! Any mentions of Cantlay on the broadcast will certainly inspire us to make a “Patrick Cant-Lay Up” joke….. (you just stopped reading didn’t you).
  • The Byron Nelson tends to rattle off ridiculous stretches of winners: ’08-’12…Adam Scott, Sabo, JDay, Keegan, Dufner. ’03-’05…Vijay, Ted Purdy (!!!), Sergio. ’95-’97…Els, Mickelson, BigCat. ’78-’80…Tom Watson, Tom Watson, Tom Watson. ’44-’46…Nelson, Snead, Hogan.
  • Would like to make special mention of Dick Mast’s inclusion as an alternate this week. Hell, the entire alternates list is great fodder!
  • Paul Casey is making his Byron Nelson debut after two weeks he was forced to take off after missing a putt in New Orleans that would’ve sent him to Charlotte. He’s going to play his way to temporary membership, no doubt. Hope his good form continues.
  • Byron Nelson was a gentleman and a class act. Always enjoyed when he held court up in the booth with the CBS crew, damn near up to his death in 2006. Along with his wife Peggy, Mr. Nelson was a wonderful steward of this event. It’s a shame to see the tournament lose it’s footing over the past few years. The New York Times took note of the trend way back in 2010. In my opinion, several things need to happen – the Texas Swing needs to be recombined into a consecutive four week stretch, create a little four week “Texas Cup” for the best finishers in those four events, and the Byron Nelson obviously needs to move to a better course. Texas’ economy is going gangbusters, can’t imagine it would be too tough to dredge up some increased sponsorship dollars.
  • Re: The 1999 US Open replay that was on Golf Channel on Tuesday night…Payne Stewart had ice running through his veins down the stretch on the back nine. Legendary performance from a man who departed prematurely. And Mickelson’s verve was at it’s peak: repping Yonex graphite-shafted irons, a HUGO BOSS clothing deal, a crispy white visor and an aggressive blade putter, Lefty really looked the part. If Big Cat makes a few short putts its his tournament to lose.

Enjoy the week and catch us on twitter for the pithiest of observations during coverage @NoLayingUp.

About the Author

Tron Carter - NLU's resident curmudgeon, wannabe media critic, fashion crusader, and arbiter of all things "pop." Passionate proponent of taking driver off the deck. Native of Atlanta, now residing in Jacksonville Beach after two quick, but beneficial years in Boston. Other interests include history, infrastructure, wine, and Michael Bay's seminal masterpiece The Rock. Also doing business as "Todd Schuster." [email protected]

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12 responses to “HP Byron Nelson Championship Preview

  1. Had Coffee coming out my nose on the Schnitz-Tarlton part. Loved the socio-economic perceptions of Dallas.

  2. Great call on Lefty’s graphite shafts and probable names of guys from Dallas. Overton is the Jay Cutler of the PGA Tour. Also, check out this weeks Inside the PGA Tour. The Tour shows never before seen footage of Kaymer in the Arizona Wilderness.

  3. Lumpy Herron getting out to the early lead. Must be feeling nostalgic after watching himself on GC this week thrash it around with Big Cat in the penultimate grouping.

  4. Also can’t forget Dubs repping the over sized Tommy Hilfiger garb, top button buttoned. Started to go downhill when he went to the trim Nike mock tees.

  5. Thought Streb was gonna need the ‘jaws of life’ to get extracted from his round today. Birdied #10 now I’m hoping he comes in in 30.

  6. Devastated in regards to DD’s implosion today. Only to be reinvigorated by Weirsy stalking his way up the leaderboard with DeLeat out in front. It’s a hostile Canadian takeover, and nobodies safe.

    1. I’m pretty sure that if Delaet and Weir get paired together this weekend and put up a few numbers, they’re just going to stake a Canadian flag in the 18th green as they walk off.

  7. Was just checking out the Web.com results this afternoon, and ran across one of your faves — Todd Hamilton. You know this is the 10 year anniversary of his securing the Claret Jug. I know your creativity will come up with something cool for the OPEN Championship preview since you have a serious man crush on this guy.

    Keep up the great work!!

  8. I’m still trying to wrap my head around Weir’s slap shot on Saturday. That ProTraj completely altered my perceptions of what is possible in this universe.

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