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HP Byron Nelson Preview
by Matt Fargo - 05/15/2012
The PGA Tour rolls into Texas this week for the HP Byron Nelson Championship from the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. Irving has served as host city to the Nelson for 27 years and this event is the ninth longest running active tournament on the schedule. Despite this storied history, it does not attract the same field that it used to. That is even more the case this week following THE PLAYERS Championship after being two weeks after it last year.
This will be the fifth year the TPC will be the sole host as Cottonwood was removed from the rotation. The winning score that year was -7 by Adam Scott and the higher score can be attributed to the earlier date, late April, as opposed to the late May date that it now takes place at. Three years ago, Rory Sabbatini broke the tournament record at -19 while two years ago, Jason Day brought home the championship at -10. But last year, Keegan Bradley and Ryan Palmer finished at -3 with the former winning in a playoff.
The TPC Four Seasons Report is a 7,166-yard, par 70 layout and the reason for the tough scoring last year was sustained winds throughout the tournament. We could see a repeat as the forecast is calling for high winds again although that could change come the weekend. Hitting fairways has always been tough here and last year was no exception as it finished sixth toughest in fairways hit so going with an accurate driver is key. Also, players familiar with Texas winds is also a good asset to have.
THE PLAYERS Champion Matt Kuchar is here this week so we could see a letdown from him. Also in the field is fan favorite Phil Mickelson (+1,000) who is making a rare appearance here, his first since 2007. He is the favorite this week and while possessing six top 15 finishes in his career at the Nelson, he has not won here since 1996. That is a cause for concern and takes away any value.
As mentioned, the defending champion is Keegan Bradley (+1,500) and he made the cut at THE PLAYERS after missing the weekend in his last two starts. He isn't playing well this year but it didn't effect him last year as he came in with a run of MC, T26, MC and 72nd and was able to pull out the playoff win. The biggest surprise though may have been the fact it was his first start here. He can easily defend.
We would like more value with Jason Day (+2,000) but he won here in 2010 in his first start at the TPC Four Seasons and then followed that up with a solo fifth last year. He is coming off a missed cut at Sawgrass but showed positive signs the prior week in Charlotte. He missed the cut at THE PLAYERS in the previous week before his win here two years ago so that pattern bodes well.
Jeff Overton (+4,000) missed the cut last week but that should not factor in because his recent track record at the Nelson takes precedence. He tied for second in 2010 and then finished T8 last year and that 2011 finish came right after a T65 at the Colonial. Even though his overall year has been average, he has missed only three cuts in 13 events and has two top fives to his credit.
Brian Gay (+4,000) was tied for runner up here two years ago while finishing T14 last year and he fits this course perfectly. He has missed only three cuts all season and has two tens including a T4 at the Valero Texas Open. He came in last year as the most accurate driver but is only 63rd this year however he makes up for it being third in scrambling. His 63 on Sunday here two years ago was the lowest round of the event.
For the longshot odds this week, we will take a look at Johnson Wagner (+5,000). He has not been playing great the last month but his finishes have gotten progressively better. He finished T35 last week after a disappointing Sunday 75 but his play up to that was solid. His last start here was in 2010 where he finished T12 and he has already found the winners circle once this year.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at HP Byron Nelson Championship (all for One Unit)
Keegan Bradley (+1,500)
Jason Day (+2,000)
Jeff Overton (+4,000)
Brian Gay (+4,000)
Johnson Wagner (+5,000)
Record to date after 18 events: +48.1 Units
Sony Open -5 Units
Humana Challenge -6 Units
Farmers Insurance Open +22 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
Accenture Match Play +7.1 Units
Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Transitions Championship +6 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -4 Units
Shell Houston Open +16 Units
The Masters -6 Units
RBC Heritage -5 Units
Valero Texas Open -4 Units
Zurich Classic of New Orleans +21 Units
Wells Fargo Championship +36 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units