This week on PGA Tour: Byron Nelson Championship
Following last week’s Players Championship win by Matt Kuchar, the biggest victory of his career, the official run-up to next month’s U.S. Open begins Thursday outside of Dallas with the Byron Nelson Championship. Bet on the tournament at WagerWeb.com. This event is the 9th oldest active event on the PGA Tour and along with the Arnold Palmer Invitational is the only event named after former players.
This event used to draw a top-notch field as players wanted to pay respect to Byron Nelson. But he died in September 2006 and since then the tournament hasn’t seen the same amount of marquee names. However, Hall of Famers Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els are in the field this week along with seven of the top-25 players off the World Rankings.
Mickelson is the co-+900 favorite on WagerWeb.com along with Aussie Adam Scott. It’s Mickelson’s first appearance at this event since he tied for third in 2007. He won here in 1996; logged six top 15s in 13 starts. A winner here in 2008, Scott has been tough to gauge this year since he’s played so few tournaments. But the Australian has finished at least T-17 in all four stroke-play events in which he’s competed.
Could Kuchar (+1000) win back-to-back? Kuchar ranked T3 in greens hit at the Players and second in Strokes Gained-Putting. He shared sixth place at last year’s Nelson.
How about Louis Oosthuizen (+1800) ? Although he missed the cut last week, Oosthuizen has recently finished third in Houston and runner-up at The Masters, plus a win at the Maybank Malaysian Open. He is making his first appearance here.
Experience has always been a key to winning, since the tournament has been played at the TPC at Four Seasons. Ted Purdy, Neal Lancaster, Robert Damron, Brett Wetterich, Jason Day and Keegan Bradley are the only players that won for the first time.
Bradley (+1600) is the defending champion, beating Ryan Palmer in a playoff. Before this event last year, nobody knew him as he was a rookie on tour. But with his win at the Nelson, it led to him winning the PGA Championship and then becoming rookie of the year and one of the hottest players on tour.
Hitting lots of greens also is vital here. Since 1998 only four players (Jesper Parnevik in 2000, Shigeki Maruyama in 2002, Rory Sabbatini in 2009 and Jason Day in 2010) have been out of the top nine in greens hit.