Update: Unfortunately due to a lingering injury Dustin Johnson had to withdraw from the HP Byron Nelson Championship. At the time of the original article creation Mr Johnson was still playing in the event and the Pro Am. To that end I hope he gets better soon and can compete again. I will not change my original pick but will pull for Jason Day as the alternate choice given the circumstances.
The PGA Tour does not rest. Fresh off the heels of a Tiger Woods victory at the Players Championship, the tour embarks on this week’s event, the HP Byron Nelson Championship, in Dallas, Texas.
The Byron Nelson Championship is played over the TPC Four Season Resort which is a par 70 covering 7,166 yards. In 1983 Jay Morrish originally designed the course which was overhauled by DA Weibring and Steve Wolford in 2007.
After the course update the water on the course, in the form of ponds or creeks, is now in play after extensive renovation. They also created large sloping greens that can benefit the players if shot are hit correctly but can also penalize them if hit slightly askew.
The field for this event does not have any of the world’s top six players in it but is not devoid of talent. In fact, seven of the world’s top-25 are entered in the field including previous champions Keegan Bradley and Jason Day along with defending champion Jason Dufner. The 72 hole record for the HP Byron Nelson Championship was set in 2009 by Rory Sabbatini with a 261. The 18 hole record at the TPC Four Seasons is 61 which belongs to Billy Mayfair (1993), Charlie Rymer (1996), Justin Leonard (2001) and Cameron Beckman (2010).
The HP Byron Nelson Championship had it fair share of star power over the years. In fact the past winners list of this event reads like a who’s who in the history of golf. Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Fred Couples, Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Vijay Singh have all tasted victory at least once at this event. In an ode to the champions of the past here are some of the more memorable moments at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
YouTube Video Courtesy of pgatour
The HP Byron Nelson Championship prides itself, like other tour stops, on its contributions to charity. The money raised this week will go to support the Salesmanship Club. The charity has a direct impact on the lives of over 7,000 kids and families each year. According to the charity:
“People access Salesmanship Club’s education and therapeutic programs, receiving the information and tools they need to achieve their full potential.”
When you look at the TPC Four Season Resort there are not many holes that the players can “take off” but there are some that will require extra attention during all four rounds of play this week. The par 4 ninth only plays to 427 yards but if the players are not careful things can go wrong fast. The right side of this fairway is protected by water and there is one tree on the left side that hangs into the fairway affecting shots played from that side of the fairway. There is adequate bunkering in the fairway and near the green to challenge the player’s skills. Mother Nature will not be helping as the prevailing crosswinds will tend to push shots near the water opening up room for a big score.
The par 4 12th has seen a large number of changes and will play to 455 yards. Previously there was severe sloping and mounding on this hole which has now been softened and paired with an elevated green. There are two bunkers of concern on this hole to include the large bunker protecting incoming shots on the right and another back left just waiting to bury a rogue approach shot. Number 16 is 546 yard par 5 that climbs the length of the hole from tee box to green. There are strategically placed bunkers down the left side and middle of the hole forcing players to “place” their tee shots. The updated shaping in this green will ensure scores between eagle and double bogey will all be seen this week.
The signature 17th hole is a 198 yard par 3 that has been reshaped allowing players to feed tee shots towards pin placements that precariously close to the edge of the water where an other than solid shot can end in a disaster coming home. The vantage point from the new par 4, 429 yard 18th tee box is high above and has been repositioned to create an impressive and intimidating view of the lakes and cascading water that go from the tee shot landing area to the green. The temptation to fire at the pin and go for birdie on the dog leg left will create its own level of drama as the round ends.
Who will challenge the TPC 4 Seasons Resort this year? Who will come from out of the pack and prevail at the HP Byron Nelson Championship? Will it be a previous winner? Another talented rookie? Let’s look at some of the logical contenders for this week’s tour stop.
Up Next: The Contenders