For the second leg of the Texas Swing, the PGA Tour heads to the regular venue of Las Colinas, home to the Byron Nelson Championship since the mid-1990s. Normally when we’ve so much previous course form to study, it is easy to identify clear trends, but there are two complications here. Firstly, the course was substantially renovated before the 2008 renewal, which also coincided with Las Colinas taking over as sole host. Previously, the event had been shared with another local venue, Cottonwood Valley, so while results before 2008 remain of interest, they are of limited value.
Since the changes, the two champions have been Adam Scott and Rory Sabbatini. Both relatively big-hitters with plenty of previous form in Texas. While they were certainly pickable, indeed Scott was on fire at the time, the rest of the places were less straightforward. Six of the 11 players to make the top five in those two renewals started at 100/1 or more. Interestingly, none of the past 21 champions had won the event before.
COURSE AND KEY STATS
Las Colinas has little in common with last week’s Aussie-style layout at San Antonio. This is a narrow par-70, with large, undulating greens. As usual in Texas, wind is a frequent factor.
No particular statistic stands out as especially pivotal from the last two results, though judging by the winners, driving distance offers some sort of advantage. The nature of the course leads me to conclude greens in regulation should be as important as usual. In addition, PGATour.com’s Rob Bolton makes a convincing argument in favour of following the par-4 birdie charts.
2pts ew DUSTIN JOHNSON @ 25/1 (GENERAL)
Despite doing very little in the three months since retaining his Pebble Beach title, his third PGA Tour victory, I’m expecting big things of Johnson in the months ahead. For nearly all of those failures, he had some sort of excuse, whether it be tough opposition or the fact he simply never goes well in Florida. He hasn’t been playing terribly in mid-division, and could well step up now in a relatively weak field. Dustin went under-par for every round on this course last year when finishing fourth, and fits the same big-hitting profile of the last two champions.
1.5pts ew CHARLEY HOFFMAN @ 33/1 (GENERAL)
There is something slightly galling about taking 33/1 on a player with such a poor conversion ratio, but Hoffman‘s chance is more obvious than the figures suggest. In each of the last three weeks, Hoffman has got the absolute minimum out of his week’s work, usually ruining his scorecard with one poor round. He’s clearly playing well, and an excellent record in Texas furthers his claim. He’s made the top 25, including seventh in 2008, both times since the course changes, when in much worse form.
1.5pts ew RICKIE FOWLER @ 40/1 (GENERAL, 45/1 TOTE)
There’s nothing shabby about odds of 40/1 on Fowler in this company. Sixth place at Quail Hollow was another top-class effort, again confirming what an outstanding prospect the 21-year-old is. That makes it four top tens this year, usually ranking near the top of the greens in regulation lists. A breakthrough win remains a very plausible target for his rookie season.
1pt ew BRYCE MOLDER @ 80/1 (GENERAL)
Bookies may have over-reacted to Molder missing his last three cuts, two of which came against elite fields. Previously, he’d been a model of consistency, making five top 25s from his last seven starts, including four top tens. Moreover, Molder has shown promise by making the top 25 on both previous visits to Las Colinas. On the downside, he’s looked very nervy when in contention, but the odds still justify a bet.
0.5pt ew KEVIN STREELMAN @ 100/1 (GENERAL)
Streelman is another solid PGA Tour player who is easily forgiven for recent failures in elite events. He made consecutive top tens during March, including at Bay Hill, and ticks several boxes for this week. Streelman finished a respectable 13th here last year, and ranks fourth for par-4 birdies amongst this field.