They often say you can tell a lot about a course based on the final leaderboard. The first year with the new TPC Sawgrass renovations provided us a Si Woo Kim winner while golfers like Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, and Matt Kuchar failed to play four rounds.
I am sure the course changes will be muted or even altered again over the time, but last week was definitely a bit odd. I would say the changes to #12 were completely unimpressive. There was too much risk for golfers that attempted to go for the green. I would hope they alter that before next year.
Onto the next week, the PGA TOUR heads back to Texas for this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson. The field is surprisingly strong as they prep for TPC Four Seasons in Irving, Texas. The fairways are pretty wide but it generally plays firm and fast (when it doesn’t get pounded with rain) which leads to plenty of missed fairways as balls roll out.
It’s rare to go a whole week in this area without getting pummeled by wind, so having a few wind specialists in your corner can’t hurt. Keep an eye out on the forecast as the week goes on.
Once golfers finally reach the greens they will be faced with bentgrass greens that are generally on the slow side of stimp equation.
From a layout perspective, there are five par 4s over 450 yards, so distance is definitely an advantage but also not required. Targeting GIR machines that can rack up birdies quickly is the preferred route (duh). From the stats I looked at, putting actually has a negative correlation to success here, so ball-striking it is for me.
Of course there is more to look at beyond just stats. Looking for a top 5 list of correlated events I came up with DEAN & DeLUCA, the Masters, Sony Open, Farmers, and PGA Championship..
For more course angles and golfer quotes check out the Fantasy Golfanac.
Players to Watch
Dustin Johnson… The hottest golfer on the planet, arriving off a career best at TPC Sawgrass. At the Byron Nelson he’s posted T12 or better in five of his last six trips here, with the other being a T20. Should easily be considered the man to beat this week.
Sergio Garcia… The Narrative Street angle of fading the Masters champ after a four-week layoff was looking great on Thursday…and then the ace happened. He parlayed that momentum into a T30 by week’s end, but definitely earned his keep on DraftKings with that Hole-in-One bonus. I’m going to keep myself out of the narrative game for the foreseeable future because it rarely works out well. In the meantime, Garcia is entering this week as the defending champ and he also won back in 2004 back when there were two courses in the tournament rota.
Tony Finau… Back on bentgrass on a course that doesn’t heavily restric driver usage. Time to get back aboard the Finau wagon.
Sang Kang… Already seeing a lot of Kang love on Twitter this week. Not sure if it’s due to his recent results or the fact he lives in Dallas. I am interested in both. He’s racked up top 30s in four of his last five starts and two of his top three finishes on TOUR have come in Texas. Also a fan of his swing coach who is worth a follow on Instagram, @ggswingtips. Kang’s potential has always been there but Gankas has elevated him to his current level of semi-consistency after working with him for less than a year. He may start to pick up a few more rising stars in the near future.
Danny Lee … I said I was out of the narrative game, but Lee is another with the local factor. I am not considering the local angle as a narrative, because I am only giving golfers that qualify a small boost, not relying on it entirely. Anyways, Lee has three top 20s here in five tries, which is what really catches my eye.
Byeong Hun An… Like a broken record at this point, I am going back to the tee-to-green specialist. As I mentioned before, I saw a negative correlation with putting and success at this event…that bodes well for An who really struggles with the flat stick most weeks.
Jason Dufner… Finished 4th in the field last week in driving distance. That says a lot about TPC Sawgrass but it also tells us he is confident pulling driver right now in any situation, where most of the field was clubbing down for safety concerns. A very strong and long run of form this year as he preps for a course he’s won before (2012) and also has a pair of T8s on his resume.
My Top 25 for the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson
1. Dustin Johnson
2. Jason Day
3. Sergio Garcia
4. Brooks Koepka
5. Tony Finau
6. Jason Dufner
7. Matt Kuchar
8. Marc Leishman
9. Jordan Spieth
10. Russell Henley
11. Keegan Bradley
12. Charl Schwartzel
13. Ryan Palmer
14. Sung Kang
15. Graham DeLaet
16. Charley Hoffman
17. Louis Oosthuizen
18. Danny Lee
19. Brandt Snedeker
20. Patrick Reed
21. Bud Cauley
22. Ryan Moore
23. Ollie Schniederjans
24. Byeong Hun An
25. J.B. Holmes