THE PGA TOUR moves to Texas this week for the AT&T Byron Nelson, a tournament that has been on the calendar for over 70 years.
Traditionally it’s been held at TPC Four Seasons but for the 2018 rendition, we are being moved to a track that is just 2 years old.
Therefore we are coming in slightly blind as it is relatively unknown how the players will attack The Trinity Forest Club. But there are a few things we can work out and piece together a few players who should do well.
At 7,380 yards the par 70 is relatively long but we can’t see the bombers who spray it everywhere winning.
The course features beautiful natural rolling terrain with quite substantial elevation changes and greens that may be large, but will be tough to hit.
It looks exactly like 18 holes have been dug up from north Scotland and moved to Dallas – the links feel to it is everywhere to be seen.
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We feel those that can attack pins, scramble, putt well from long distances and most importantly have the game that suits a links test will be the ones that challenge this week.
Field wise it’s pretty good, considering we’re only a week after The Players – likes of Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia and Hideki Matsuyama headline the event, so we could be in for a treat!
Just a quick extra note – Ben Crenshaw who was one of the designers of this course said something that we should all take not of –
“The closer you flirt with trouble, the greater advantage you gain … [that’s] the cardinal principle of strategic design.”
Marc Leishman – 22/1
Our first pick comes in the form of Marc Leishman who is definitely one of the better players in the field but feels like he’s at a respectable price.
He’s had a quietish start to the season, but there’s enough there to think he could go well here. A 9th at Augusta and T7 at the Arnold Palmer show he’s got the game in shape on tough courses. But the main reason we instantly thought of the Aussie was because he has a stellar record at The Open – 3 top 6’s in his last 4 outings is impressive and proves he can handle links tracks.
He’s a very decent scrambler and putter and wonderful iron player who likes to attack pins. His only downfall is that he struggles with finding the fairway at times, but if he can keep the ball in play like he did at The Masters, he’ll have every chance this week.
Brandt Snedeker – 40/1
Brandt Snedeker hasn’t really been playing well for a quite a while now with injuries taking their toll. His last win was in Fiji back in 2016 and since then he’s only recorded 5 top 10’s. So why on earth are we thinking we should back him?
Well we’ve seen some signs. Although not quite putting all 4 rounds together yet, he’s shown enough to put him in the mix on a course that should suit. His T23 at the RBC Heritage included some encouraging moments, which he then followed up with a 15th place at the Valero. Here, he was inside the top 5 for driving accuracy and top 30 for putting which is where his real abilities lie.
He has proven many times over the years how his tactical know-how and short game prowess fits with what’s required on a links test. He’s won twice at Pebble Beach and recorded a T3 at The Open.
Martin Laird – 40/1
Martin Laird is a top quality player in and around the greens and he instantly came to our mind as a mid-ranger who could suit the track. He is actually inside the top 50 for stats like strokes gained around the green, scrambling, strokes gained putting, putting from 25 feet +.
With that sort of game we can really see him doing well and he comes in OK form. T57 last week and T11 at the Valero, where he was inside the top 16 for putting and GIR shows that he’s going in the right direction. He hasn’t won a PGA Tour event since 2013 but there’s no reason he can’t get back in the winners circle this week.
Graeme McDowell – 66/1
We all know what Gmac is capable of. He’s the perfect fit for any links track and has proven that too many times over the years. His US Open win at Pebble Beach, victories at Valderrama, Celtic Manor and in Scotland and even the RBC Heritage in 2013. He’s a traditional grinder who thrives in finding ways to attack difficult greens.
However there’s the obvious fault against his name in that he has played really poorly in recent outings. A best finish of T22 this calendar year is worrying, but if there was ever going to be one course that could get his juices going again, it would be here.