AT&T Byron Nelson Classic 2017 Preview

Wells Fargo Championship 2017 Preview

Our golf scribe previews this week's PGA Tour event, the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic.

This will be the last instalment of the AT&T at TPC Four Seasons, with the tournament relocating to the under-construction Trinity Forest Golf Course in 2019. And the players will likely think….good riddance. A frequent contender for least-liked course on tour, TPC Four Seasons’ reputation with the players has probably been one of the chief reasons that the event has gone down in popular estimation over the last few years. Six of the world’s top 20 players are in attendance this week - so this is by no stretch a weak field - but the tournament has lost some of its savoir-faire in recent times, with too many course renovations somewhat obscuring the identity of this Robert Trent Jones Jnr creation.

Formerly known as the Dallas Open, this event has been decorated with a slew of high-profile champions. Following Byron Nelson’s inaugural win, the likes of Snead, Watson, Nicklaus, Els and Woods have tasted victory at the AT&T. Just last year, current Masters Champion Sergio Garcia won the event for the second time. At only 7,166 yards, this would appear to be a course that may allow more democracy from the tee. But the short appearance is deceptive. There are only two par 5’s on display, meaning there are a host of long par 4’s that will actually suit the bombers. Five of the last six winners have finished inside the top 14 for driving distance, showing just how deceptive those measurements are.

Unsurprisingly, it is the laconic Dustin Johnson who leads the markets this week. The Texan finished well at the Players and has an excellent record at this event in recent times. Jordan Spieth has a bit of a jaded record at his hometown event and will be looking to build on a string of consistent performances. Si-Woo Kim’s record-breaking victory at Sawgrass really emphasised the fact that anything could happen this week. The 21-year-old prodigy had been battling fitness issues and was completely out of form prior to last week. Kim is not in attendance this week as players attempt to build up momentum ahead of next month’s US Open at Erin Hills.

The AT&T Byron Nelson Classic | Thursday 18 May - Sunday 21 May | TPC Four Seasons Resort, Irving, Texas

Past Winners
2016: Sergio Garcia (-15)*playoff | 2015: Steven Bowditch (-18) | 2014: Brendon Todd (-14) | 2013: Bae Sang-Moon (-13) | 2012: Jason Dufner (-11)

To Win Outright
Dustin Johnson 9/2 | Jordan Spieth 12/1 | Sergio Garcia 12/1 | Jason Day 18/1 | Brooks Koepka 18/1

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Value Bets

Matt Kuchar - To Win 40/1 & To Place 17/2
‘Kuuuuch’, as he affectionately and sometimes rather irritatingly, has a tremendous record at the AT&T in recent weeks. He has had four top 15 finishes since 2011, including a solo 3rd here last year. A T4 in the Masters was followed by a T11 Heritage in the RBC Heritage. He is in terrific form and may be well worth a punt at 35/1. This is your definitive horses for courses pick.

Tony Finau - To Win 40/1 & To Place 17/2
Tony Finau looks a fantastic prospect this week, particularly in the place markets. As I highlighted earlier, length off the tee could be essential this week. The big-hitting Finau currently sits 9th in the driving distance stats. He also has solid course credentials, finishing 10th here in 2015 before finishing 12th last year. He has, admittedly, missed his last two cuts, but before that, he had an excellent T3 finish at the Valero Texas Open. That’s not too far from here and the big-hitting Finau looks impossible to ignore at 40/1.

Charl Schwartzel – To Win 50/1 & To Place 17/2
The one clear negative against the elegant South African is the fact that he missed the cut at the Players. However, Schwartzel has never played well at Sawgrass, a course that perhaps demands more patience than he has. Prior to that, he obviously had that 3rd place finish at the Masters. He finished 3rd here four years ago behind Bae, despite putting poorly in Rounds 2 and 3. All told, his scoring average is 68.53, a hair better than that of Johnson. If he gets his game going, there are few who can hit it closer to the green.

The Man to Beat

Dustin Johnson To Win 9/2 & To Place 99/100
Dustin perhaps defied expectations last week with that 12th place finish in the Players, at a course that has never really suited his booming game. And while the odds don’t look too appealing this week, the layout of the course seems to favour the somewhat emotionless Texan. He has four top 10’s in seven tries at the Byron Nelson. He finished T12 last with an 11 under par 269. He has seven top 6 finishes in his last nine starts, with those four consecutive victories thrown into the mix. As much as I would like to deviate from the norm, the stage looks set for Johnson to return to the winner’s circle, even if the price isn’t great.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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