AT&T Byron Nelson Championship Preview
What: AT&T Byron Nelson
Where: Trinity Forest Golf Club, Dallas, TX
When: May 17-20
Defending Champion: Billy Horschel
FedEx Cup Points: 500
Webb Simpson blew his competition out of the water last week at the Players Championship, scoring the victory by shooting an incredible 18-under and winning by a margin of four strokes. Simpson had the largest 54-hole lead in the history of this tournament, and he came through and finished it off on Sunday.
Players Championship Results
A T11 finish from Justin Thomas was enough to get him into the world’s top ranking on the OWGR. He finally surpasses Dustin Johnson, for now. Last year at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Billy Horschel took the win in a playoff hole over Jason Day. He won with a score of 12-under. With the Players Championship come and gone and the U.S. Open not for another month, we will see a weaker field than usual this week and for the weeks coming up. We will see some bright spots like Spieth and Matsuyama, but the tournament will round with names like Joaquin Niemann and Andrew Putnam.
Trinity Forest GC opened in 2016 and features a similar look to a British links course, but you don’t bump-and-run the ball at a low trajectory like you would over in the UK. Strokes gained: ball striking, strokes gained: approach the green, and par-4 scoring are all important stats to keep an eye on for the 7,380-yard par-72 course. The very slow greens will also play a factor.
AT&T Byron Nelson Picks
Jordan Spieth: The undisputed top pick this week is Spieth. He’s a member at this course and has the putting prowess to get the job done, even with his struggles for most of the year. Course knowledge and a crafty-mind alone can put Spieth on top this week. The world’s third-ranked golfer will look to add to his four top-10s in 12 tries this year.
Marc Leishman: He’s the man you want who has withstood the test of windy conditions. Aside from the cut at the RBC Heritage, not much can be read into his T63 last week at the Players. Before that he had notable T7s and T9s at the API and the Masters, respectively. Leishman is in the top-32 in SG: approach-the-green, putting average, and scoring average. Even though he’s ranked this high, see if you can catch your league sleeping on him.
Jimmy Walker: Since missing four cuts in his first six events on the year, Walker has put together four straight top-20s including a fourth-place finish at the Valero Texas Open and a T2 last week. Walker is also one of the best putters on Tour.
Matt Kuchar: Never flashy, but in a field like this you have to add a “mister reliable.” Kuchar has a great track record not only against Spieth, but in windy and links conditions. The underlying stats might not favor him as much, but he has made an insane 30 straight cuts on Tour. It would be something special to see him and Spieth go at it again just like they did in the Open Championship last summer.
Adam Scott: A rank of 111th in proximity and 168th in strokes gained: putting aren’t anything special, but Scott ranks 18th in SG: approach-the-green and is coming off a T11 last week. Scott is no stranger to these types of courses and seems to be trending in the right direction at an opportune time. He has four top-32s in his last seven events.
Charles Howell III: Howell is in good form and has the all-around game you’re looking for here with skyrocketing metrics after his T17 last week. He now ranks in the top-100 in strokes gained: putting, and top-50 in strokes gained: approach-the-green. The 38-year-old has five top-21s in his last six events and is 15-of-17 for cuts made on the year.
Billy Horschel: Defending champion, great off the tee, and good enough putting. So why ranked this low? His approach the green and tee to green metrics are outside of the top-85 and he ranks 197th in proximity. His last four starts have him at T5-T11-WIN-T37, but he’s missed a large five cuts on the year already.
Beau Hossler: Hossler turned in a very quiet runner-up finish at the Houston Open six weeks ago. He’s very familiar with Trinity Forest — his home course — and is ranked 32nd in strokes gained: putting. His great all-around short game will make his above-average irons thrive with confidence. Beau has made 15-of-18 cuts this year.
Hideki Matsuyama: Stay away if the price tag is large, but the course plays well into his game and he is an elite talent. He ranks out of the top-100 in strokes gained: approach-the-green, but he’s a guy who could surprise us all. Pair him with Kuchar wherever possible.
Stephan Jaeger: The long-hyped 28-year-old German is coming off a win last week on the Web.com Tour and will be full of confidence. With just six cuts made in his last 12 events, this will be a long-shot, but he will definitely be cheap in your leagues if you want to ride a hot-hand.
Branden Grace: More of a “pushed-out” name than a sleeper this week, but it’s very easy to overlook him when you see some of the other names. Grace is yet to miss a cut this year and ranks sixth in strokes gained: putting. The 36th-ranked player in the world doesn’t have great ball-striking numbers but sports five top-25s in 10 appearances this year.
Russell Knox: Posts the ball-striking and approach numbers you want to see, and that comes with a lot of danger on courses not a lot of other golfers are familiar with. Knox is 51st in SG: tee-to-green, 25th in GIR percentage, and 13th in proximity. He should be cheap and league members may stay away with his three missed cuts in his last eight times out.