PGA Tour: AT&T Byron Nelson Preview

Golfer lines up iron shot

Our golf writer previews this week's AT&T Byron Nelson set to take place at the Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas between 17 and 20 May. 

The PGA Tour heads to Texas this week for the first of two stops in the Lone Star State. The event dates back 74 years and for many years was the only full PGA Tour event named after a professional player: The Arnold Palmer Invitational became the second.

Nelson, a Texas native, actually won the first edition of an event that is recognized as the leading fundraiser for charity on the PGA Tour. The event has undergone various facelifts and venue changes, held at TPC Four Seasons since 2008. But the event shifts gears once again with a move to Trinity Forest Golf Club.

The AT&T Byron Nelson | 17 May - 20 May | Trinity Forest Golf Club, Dallas

Perhaps most striking of all about this move is the course itself. Trinity Forest is a rather misleading name since there are no trees in sight. The Ben Crenshaw-Bill Coore co-founded course is a links style course that has absolutely no trees, just a succession of huge undulating fairways. The fairways have been laid with a new variety of Zoysiagrass that will replicate the extreme runoffs that are evident on traditional Scottish links courses. Bermuda greens will also be quick, meaning that touch and position may be more important than brute force this week. The course has been likened to a diet Chambers Bay, and few will forget how must havoc that course wrecked in the 2015 US Open.

The Tour seems somewhat wary of the links dimension this week. Five of the world’s top 22 players are in attendance, but that quintet almost represents all the players inside the top 50. Dallas native Jordan Spieth is the clear favorite, with an affinity for links layouts and intimate knowledge of the course. Two-time Champion Sergio Garcia is in the mix while Billy Horschel looks to defend his title this week. Hideki Matsuyama has been in a dreadful slump and could look to reinvigorate his fortunes this week.

Past Winners
2017: Billy Horschel (-12)*playoff
2016: Sergio Garcia (-15)*playoff
2015: Steven Bowditch (-18)
2014: Brendon Todd (-14)
2013: Bae Sang-moon (-13)

To Win Outright:
Jordan Spieth 6/1 | Matt Kuchar 14/1 | Sergio Garcia 16/1 | Hideki Matsuyama 20/1 | Billy Horschel 22/1

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Value Bets

Beau Hossler- To Win 40/1, To Place 17/2
Considering the relatively poor field, the man who plays out of Trinity Forest should be a fairly obvious candidate to contend this week, as he has done on several occasions already this season. He placed 46th last week at Sawgrass, though that was characterized by an unusually poor week with the putter. His strength in and around the greens will come in handy this week while his form on home soil is exemplary. He finished runner-up in the Shell Houston Open as a Texas native, while he contended for the US Open in San Francisco when still residing in California.

Charles Howell III- To Win 50/1, To Place 11/1
While I’m generally loathe to back Howell- who doesn’t win nearly enough- there’s enough to suggest that the metronomic player could thrive in a slightly weakened field. While he hasn’t previously shone in this event, the change of venue to a links style course should suit him. He enjoyed a career best 17th at the Players Championship and has five top 25 finishes in his last six starts on the Tour.

Ryan Palmer- To Win 55/1, To Place 12/1
Another Texas resident, Ryan Palmer knows this course extremely well, as does his caddie James Edmondson. A former Sony Open winner, Palmer has shown his abilities to conquer windy conditions. He also has fairly decent links form, with four cuts made out of four in the Open Championship; he actually has finished T30 in three out of those four starts. He has struggled badly since that runner-up finish at Torrey Pines, but a top 25 at Sawgrass seems to suggest he may be ready to get out of this funk.

The Man to Beat- Jimmy Walker- To Win 25/1, To Place 11/2
While Spieth will likely be a factor this week, 6/1 is not the greatest price considering his putting woes of late. Fellow Texan Jimmy Walker has been resurgent of late, with a runners-up at the Players just the latest in a string of encouraging results; that was his third top 10 of the season. He doesn’t exactly have sparkling links form, though he did make the cut in both Scottish Opens he participated in. But his recent form and stats on and around the green should bode well for what should be a unique challenge this week.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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