2017 PGA AT&T BYRON NELSON CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW AND PICKS
The 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship comes out a way this week from TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas for the last time after 35 years of hosting this event. Las Colinas is a 7,166 yard, par 70 track that will test every aspect of a golfer’s game.
2017 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship
When: May 18-21, 2017
Where: TPC Four Seasons, Irving, Texas
Format: 72 holes – Stroke Play
Defending Champion: Sergio Garcia
TV Coverage: Golf Channel, CBS
A pretty good field will try to conquer Las Colinas, its tree-lined fairways, and large undulating greens. Hitting the fairways is essential here – setting yourself up for your crucial approach is the only way to navigate this tricky, yet somewhat short track.
Long and short iron work will determine the winner this week – last year’s winner Sergio Garcia’s stats prove the notion – approach shots contributed 40 percent of his total strokes gained on the field, putting contributed 33 percent, and driving contributed 25 percent.
Of course, a strong putter always helps!
So with all of that in mind who should we be keeping a special eye on this week? Let’s take a look.
2017 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship Favorites:
Dustin Johnson +500
Didn’t have the best week at the PLAYERS but still finished T12 – his best ever result at that tournament but his worst effort on TOUR in his last six starts.
His results at this event have been impressive – T12, T8, T7, T20, T7, T4 in his last six starts here. Overall DJ has finished inside the top 3 in five of his last six events played – impressive indeed.
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His length off the tee won’t be needed here but Johnson proved last week that even tracks that have given him trouble in the past are not a problem right now.
He sits top five on TOUR in both driving distance and greens in regulation and should be a factor, as usual, this week.
Jordan Spieth +1100
Local kid hasn’t looked his dominant self as of late and arrives at a track that has given him problems in the past – he was T18 here last year and his best finish on this course is a T16 – when he was 16 years old!
He has yet to miss a cut in this event but arrives this week off a rare missed cut at the PLAYERS – not quite sure what to make of that! That said a T11 at the Masters proved that he isn’t far away.
On a track that SHOULD suit his game, a breakthrough seems imminent.
Sergio Garcia +1200
Defending champion here and two-time winner of this event seems to have taken his game to another level. He melted down in the last round of the PLAYERS last week en route to a T30 but he has finished worse than that just twice in his last 14 starts around the world.
His typically solid tee-to-green game will be a boon this week and his improved putting could be the difference again for the Master’s champ.
Expect Garcia to be in the mix again!
2017 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship Contenders:
Brooks Koepka +1600
Last year’s runner-up in a playoff in this event has been very good in the lead-up to this year’s edition – a T16 last week, second at the Valero, T11 at the Masters and T9 in his last four TOUR starts.
In his T16 last time out at the PLAYERS it was his putter the caught fire – something that has become a mainstay in his evolving overall game.
There are few in the field that arrives in better form that Koepka whose well-known length and improving putter may just get it done this week.
Charley Hoffman +3300
Is on the radar this week because of his track record here – his play this year overall is no slouch either. His last four starts at Las Colinas have resulted in T12, T2, T8, and T41 finishes.He arrives off an OK T30 at the PLAYERS and could be a factor again this week.
Tony Finau +3300
Has certainly been hit and miss this year but his track record here has me taking a serious look this week.
He has missed the cut in his last two events on TOUR but has finished T12 and T10 in his only appearances at this event – he’s averaged 67 strokes per round here.
His stats suggest that he is in for a big week – T7 on TOUR in par 4 scoring, fourth on the PGA TOUR in strokes gained: off-the-tee and 19th in strokes gained: approach-the-green.
He looks to bounce back from an uncharacteristic missed cut at the Masters having posted top 5 finishes in two of his last five starts as well – a solo fifth at the Valspar Championship and a T3 at the Valero Texas Open.
Jason Dufner +4000
2012 winner of this event (he also has two T8s here), Duf is back on the radar for sure. I am not worried about a T60 at the PLAYERS, he had finished inside the top 25 in seven straight non-majors before that.
He hasn’t missed a cut since January, sits T7 on TOUR in par 4 scoring and could offer a pretty nice payday this week.
2017 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship Sleepers (+5000 or higher):
Bud Cauley +5000
He shared the 36-hole lead in this event last year en route to a T4 and enters this week in WAY better form! He is 12th on the PGA TOUR in strokes gained: approach-the-green and 44th in strokes gained: tee-to-green – perfect for this track.
Cauley is going to win sooner or later – my guess is that it will be sooner.
Charl Schwartzel +5000
Has been solid yet unspectacular so far this season and now gets a crack at a track that he has made the cut all four times including a solo third in 2013 and a T11 in 2014.
He has finished inside the top 20 in three of his last five starts overall and although he arrives off a missed cut at the PLAYERS, my guess is that he will have a good week.
Marc Leishman +5000
Is on many people’s radar this week – he always shows up in Texas and has two T3s and two other top 12s in this event in 12 tries – he also has two missed cuts here. His scoring average in his last 16 rounds here is impressive, however – 68.5.
Leishman arrives off a missed cut at the PLAYERS but other than that current form and track history make him a threat.
2017 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship Picks:
As always lately, it is hard to go against Dustin Johnson but I am.
The pick this week is Brooks Koepka at +1600. He has finished inside the top 15 in his last five starts overall and he will be motivated to better a playoff loss on this track last year.
I wrestled with the Sleeper as well but settled on Mark Leishman at +5000 – he has had success here in the past and seems poised to sneak up on everybody again this week.
He loves Texas, loves the wind, and loves this event.
Golf handicapper Tony TheRhino™ weighs in each week with his top selections. Including top picks and sleepers!
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