Fresh off the heels of the instant classic finish at the Players Championship, the tour embarks on the next event of the tour season, the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Dallas Texas and the TPC Four Seasons will once again host the Byron Nelson Championship. The TPC Four Seasons Resort will play to a par of 70 covering 7,166 yards. In 1983 Jay Morrish originally designed the course which was overhauled by DA Weibring and Steve Wolford in 2007. This week’s field brings nine of the top-25 players in the world all vying for the title. 2012 champion, Jason Dufner and 2011 Champion, Keegan Bradley are in the field along with hometown boy and world number seven, Jordan Spieth.
When you look at the TPC Four Seasons Resort there are a few holes that will challenge this field more than others throughout the week. The par-4 427 yard, ninth hole is one of those places. The right side of this fairway is protected by water with adequate bunkering in the fairway and near the green to challenge the player’s skills. Prevailing crosswinds will tend to push shots near the water opening up room for a big score.
The par-4 12th will play to 455 yards with severe sloping and mounding that was softened and paired with an elevated green during the renovation. There is a large bunker protecting incoming shots on the right and another back left just waiting to bury a rogue approach shot. Number 16 is a 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 carefully choose their clubs on the tee. The updated shaping in this green will ensure scores between eagle and double bogey will all be seen this week.
The par-3 198 yard 17th hole is the signature hole at the TPC Four Seasons. During the renovation it 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 tee box on the par-4 429 yard 18th 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.
Thursday-Friday: Golf Channel-3-6 PM EST
Saturday and Sunday: Golf Channel -1-2:30 PM EST, CBS – 3-6 PM EST
$6.9 million total purse, $1.242 million winners share
Who can tame the TPC Four Seasons? Will it be a former champion like Jason Dufner or Keegan Bradley? Could it be the hometown boy and young upstart, Jordan Spieth? Can a Monday qualifier break through? In a full field event it is always hard to say but I present my predictions and picks for my top-2 choices this week at the Byron Nelson Championship.
Win Candidate: Keegan Bradley
Yes I am aware that Keegan did not make the cut this last weekend at the Players Championship. However, at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans he did finish tied for eighth. In fact, over his last seven starts he is boom or bust but when he is on it is solid with a tie for 12th, the tie for eighth and a second place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Keegan is the definition of a Horse for the Course. He is a fan of Dallas Texas or at least the Byron Nelson Championship with a 24 place finish in 2012, a runner-up finish last year and a title here in 2011. If you look at his lead up events in 2013 and 2011 he was playing worse than he has in 2014 yet still managed to play the TPC Four Seasons very well. I would not rule him out as a win candidate.
Win Pick: Jordan Spieth
Doesn’t it feel like Jordan Spieth has been around for a while? It is hard to remember that he is only 20 years old with a very high ceiling. While he did not “light it up” at the TPC Four Seasons last year it is important to remember that he has two starts in 2011 and 2010 as an amateur. He made the cut in both of those starts and finished 16th in 2010.
In his last five events Jordan has missed one cut while accumulating a tie for 12th, solo tenth, tie for fourth at the Players Championship and a tie for second at the Masters. Overall, in 12 made cuts he has amassed 11 top-25s, six top-10s and two runner-up finishes. Statistically he is six in scoring average, 18th in birdie average, 29th in total putting and 25th in strokes gained putting in 2014.
I will concede that he has some issues lately closing the deal on Sunday but he is young and gathering valuable experience that many would dream of. Sooner rather than later it will turn into his second career victory. I believe in Dallas is where that will pay off. I am picking Jordan Spieth, the home town boy, this week at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. If you are going to win why not do it in front of your family and friends.
Who will win 2014 HP Byron Nelson Championship?
- Jordan Spieth (50%, 8 Votes)
- Other (Please leave comment) (31%, 5 Votes)
- Keegan Bradley (19%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 16