By Michael McGill ( @MickSportsNews )
This week the PGA Tour heads to Irving, Texas for the HP Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons Resort and Club.
This tournament was first played in 1944 and was won by Byron Nelson. It has been played on several courses over the years until 1986 when it was moved to the TPC course until 1994 when it was played on the TPC course and Cottonwood Valley course which are both part of the Four Season complex. In 2008 it was changed back to the TPC course after it had undergone several changes.
The course is a Par 70, 7166 yard layout with 68 sand bunkers and 8 water hazards. The fairways and rough are Bermudagrass and the greens are Bentgrass.
After the prestige and excitement of the Players Championship last week the winner of this tournament will still take home a handy US$1,170,000.
Considering the classy field that was present last week it is great to see several big names turning out to play. The bookies Top 5 in betting are 14/1 Jason Day, 14/1 Jason Dufer, 16/1 Matt Kuchar, 20/1 Keegan Bradley and 20/1 Charl Schwartzel.
The two favourites have already had success here with Jason Dufner winning last year and Jason Day in 2010. Keegan Bradley won in 2011.
Louis Oosthuizen is the highest ranked player in the field while Chinese young gun Guan Tianlang is naturally the youngest.
If that’s not enough there is also 2013 Winners Brian Gay, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and D.A Points teeing it up looking for their second win for the season.
So what does it take to win here? Good question. It all depends on the weather. If the wind decides to blow then batten down the hatches. In 2011 Keegan Bradley’s winning score was -3. Due to the windy conditions the course was ranked 5th most difficult from 51 courses that year. The weather made sure it was the winner as only 5 players finished under par for the tournament.
However if you look at last year when Jason Dufner was the winner (-11) there were 35 players under Par and in 2010 when Jason Day was the winner (-10) there were 40 players under Par. If the weather stays away we can expect more of the same, so look for guys who can shoot low scores and keep the ball in play.
Hitting greens is what its all about in golf and its pretty much the same here at TPC Las Colinas. Keep it in play, hit the greens and you are in with a shot at the title. That’s the name of the game.
So who do we like this week?
Marc Leishman 25/1
The Aussie is having a great year on tour. Twelve starts have resulted in four Top 10′s. And three of those have been at his last three starts.
T4th at The Masters, T9th in the RBC Heritage and T8th last week at The Players Championship. He’s on a great run and surely a win is just around the corner.
This week represents one of the weaker fields compared to his last three outings so expect to see him up there on the leaderboard over the weekend.
When it comes to this tournament Marc has had good success over the last four years. In 2009 he was T8th, that was followed up with a T12th a year later. 2011 saw a missed cut while last year was his best result to date with a T3rd just 2 strokes back from the winner Jason Dufner.
At the available odds he represents an excellent each way bet.
James Driscoll 150/1
Yes you read it correctly, I have selected James Driscoll as my long shot for this week. And there is no reason why he can not figure in the finish judging by recent winner Derek Ernst who won the Wells Fargo Championship.
James has made nine cuts from fourteen starts this season which has resulted in two Top 25 finishes. After a run of missed cuts he has started to put it all together in his last two tournaments. A 38th at the Wells Fargo Championship was followed up last week with a 26th at The Players Championship.
At the Byron Nelson in 2011 he finished 8th while he was 19th last year. So we know he likes the course. That course confidence and his recent form reversal should hopefully see him playing some good golf over the weekend.
It may also pay to look at him in Top 10 and Top 20 markets.
The good results have continued with Kevin Streelman 100/1 finishing T2nd at The Players Championship while Henrik Stenson 70/1 managed to hang on to a share of 5th place.
Good Luck and Good Punting.