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AT&T Byron Nelson: Expert Picks

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Tricky situation with a new venue on the 50thanniversary of this tournament

THE PLAYERS Championship - Round One Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Entering my PLAYERS Championship picks I was feeling quite self-confident, coming off the Wells Fargo Championship were I was 6 for 6 on made cuts with 5 of those six landing inside the top 20. It might have been my greatest set of picks I’ve ever made. Well, the Golf gods are all too eager to make sure that they keep everyone humble. Last week Dustin Johnson’s 17th place finish was the only top 20 placement I would see. I watched as Russell Knox, Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen and Francesco Molinari joined the ranks of Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Kevin Kisner, Bill Haas and Zach Johnson all missing the cut at TPC Sawgrass. It was nothing short of a brutal showing from me.

Tournament Information

AT&T Byron Nelson

Date: May 17th – 20th

Course: Trinity Forest Golf Club

Purse: $7.5MM ($1.4MM to each winner)

FedEx points: 500 to the winner

2017 Winner: Billy Horschel (-12)

Course: Trinity Forest Golf Club. Located in Dallas, this course was founded in 2014 but did not open until late in 2016. Built on a landfill and designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, this 7,450 yard par 71 course will make its inaugural appearance as host for the AT&T Byron Nelson this year. Host to SMU collect, Trinity hosts Bermuda grass, large bunkers and some rolling hills. Attempting to mimic a links style course, it is far from the more native courses in northwest and Great Britain. This course will be open with lush grass but requires a tactical approach often deciding which side you want to pursue and allow gravity to aid each shot.

Full candor, I really wish I wasn’t coming off such atrocious picks into a tournament with a new challenging course that is intentionally unfamiliar to many of the entrants. I have a strong suspicion we are going to see a very weird field as a group will have wild success but some big names will struggle given how different this course is from every other course in Texas.

Starting 4

Jordan Spieth. He does have some experience here. A native of Texas he has had a chance to play this course a few times and comes as close as any to knowing how to play it.

Matt Kuchar. He has not missed a cut this year, he has four finishes inside the top 25 in his last 7 starts. He finished 2nd last year at the Open Championship and 16th at the US Open last year (Erin Hills which is a Links Style). He’s currently 38th in strokes gained putting, 55th in total strokes gained which he will need to harness with these greens.

Sergio Garcia. Struggling lately, he is generally strong on links courses. 14th in OWGR, 4th in strokes gained approaching the green, 13th in strokes gained tee to green and 26th in total strokes gained.

Adam Scott. A nice 11th place finish at The PLAYERS Championship brings him to Trinity. He has a history of decent links finishes and his 18th in strokes gained approaching the green as well as 18th in strokes gained tee to green.

Bench 2

Andrew Putnam. Aged 29 out of Pepperdine University he turned pro 2010. He’s only played a handful of events this year but he made the cut AND finished in the top 15 for three of them (Zurich Classic, Valero Texas and Corales Puntacana). There is nothing overtly flashy about his game, he sits in the middle in most categories but at the same time he’s not atrocious at anything either.

Brandt Snedeker. Historically a strong links player, he’s having a decent season with a mixture of some missed cuts (5) and top 25 finishes (5). He’s 43rd in strokes gained around the green, 46th in strokes gained putting. He’s quite accurate off the tees (36th) which is a must.

Poll

Will the winner shoot below -10 at this challenging course?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Yes -10 or better
    (23 votes)
  • 23%
    No -9 or worse
    (7 votes)
30 votes total Vote Now

2018 Stats:

Starting 4: Average Finish 43rd (33rd percentile)

Bench 2: Average Finish 45th (35th percentile)

Missed cuts: average of 1.4 per tournament