2015-05-26

AT&T Byron Nelson



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The PGA will focus on the AT&T Byron Nelson Golf Classic this week when the players tee it up at the Four Seasons Resort and Golf Club in Dallas. This event is one of the longer standing on tour with this being its 62nd installment and is named after its first victor, Byron Nelson, in 1944. Since that time, only four golfers have taken home the trophy more than once with Tom Watson (1975, 1978, 1979, 1980) doing so more than anyone else. No recent winners have been able to win twice here, with Bruce Lietzke (1981, 1988) being the last to do so on the now par-70, 7,166-yard venue. Since a total revamping of the course in 2007, the winners have not exactly been putting up huge scores with two in single-digits under par while everyone else but Rory Sabbatini in 2007, when he shot a tournament record 261 aggregate score, was at 14-under or worse. The one 14-under score in that time came from Brendon Todd who earned his first and only tournament win to date after putting 2.46 strokes better than the field and combined to shoot 12-under-par on the par-threes and fours. Heading back to his hometown and leading the field this week will be No. 2 golfer in the world according to the Official World Golf Rankings, Jordan Spieth, as he is joined by two others (No. 8 Jason Day and No. 10 Dustin Johnson) from the top-10. Another five players (Jimmy Walker, Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter, Zach Johnson) from the top-25 will also be vying to top the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon. Lets look over the entrants this week and find a few who could get in the way of Todd defending his first PGA victory.



Dustin Johnson: After five top-six showings, including a victory at the WGC-Cadillac Championship to start the year, Johnson has cooled off a ton and even though he has made the cut in each of the past three events; hes done no better than 17th at the Match Play Championship and is coming off a tie for 69th at the Players. Despite that, he is still an elite talent and has two sevenths and a 20th in his last three visits here. Last year, he tied for seventh behind shooting seven-under par on the par-threes. Hes been the longest player on tour off the tee (316.5 yards per) this season and has a putting average of 1.718 (5th on tour). Look for DJ to regain some composure this week and put a hurting on the field.



Marc Leishman: Leishman has done everything at this event besides win in the past five years, finishing in third and 12th twice each as he had four consecutive rounds of 68 or better last season and hit 76.4percent of GIR; finishing four shots behind Brendon Todd in a tie for third place. The Aussie has not been having quite as successful of a 2015 campaign after six top-10s last year, but has made the cut in each of the past four events which included him getting deep into the match play event. He may not be having the best year of his career, but going back to TPC Four Seasons in Dallas should get him right back on track.



Morgan Hoffmann: Hoffmann is a very sporadic golfer, but when he is on he has a chance to win any given week. This is evidenced by his solid showings at both the Arnold Palmer Invitational (4th) and RBC Heritage (9th) as he comes into this one with 10 of his last 14 rounds being under par. Hoffmann ranked 16th here last year and had a strong showing in 2013 when tied for fifth after consecutive weekend rounds of 66. The Jersey boy is long off the tee (295 yards per, 36th on tour) and has gained 0.442 strokes putting, giving him the rare combo of power and finesse that it will take for him to get his first career PGA win.



Jerry Kelly: Kelly comes into this one on an absolute tear with top-22 finishes in each of his last four events after missing the cut in five of his first 11 tourneys. Hes had rounds of 67 or better six times in that stretch and has hit at least 68percent of fairways each week while nailing 78percent or more GIR twice. It doesnt hurt that the 48-year-old has two top-27 showings at this event in his past three visits as he continues to search for his first win on tour since 2009. There are certainly plenty of sexier picks than Kelly, but his consistency lately warrants him consideration.



Danny Lee: Lee has been improving his standing on the PGA Tour in each of his last three full seasons and is just outside of the top-50 in the FedEx Cup rankings after being in the top-25 in seven of his 13 made cuts. Hes running hot at the moment with a top-22 performance in three of the past four weeks and had a third top-10 on the year last week at Colonial where he had two rounds of 66. He failed to make the cut here last year after putting up a 77 on Friday, but should be able to use his solid putting (0.326 strokes gained putting, 42nd on tour) and skills out of the sand (64percent, 11th on tour) to continue his recent success.