This week sees the second leg of the PGA Tour’s “Texas swing” as the circuit visits Las Colinas for the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Rory Sabbatini defends the title.
The TPC Four Seasons course at Las Colinas was originally designed by Jay Morrish back in 1983 but, after the 2007 tournament, D.A Weibring and Steve Wolford oversaw a major redesign of the layout – reshaping greens and bringing more water into play.
With many overseas players heading for England and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the field is relatively weak for the Byron Nelson. Hunter Mahan is the highest ranked player on the World Ranking teeing it up at Las Colinas – he’s currently 17th – and there’s just one player in the top-10 of the FedEx Cup rankings on the start sheet – Dustin Johnson.
This tournament began life back in 1926 as the Dallas Open. It was renamed as the Byron Nelson Classic in 1968. Since then Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have been champions.
Venue: TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas, Texas
Date: May 20-23
Course stats: par 70, 7,166 yards
Purse: $6,500,000 Winner: $1,170,000
Defending Champion: Rory Sabbatini (-19)
Thursday 20 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Friday 21 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Saturday 22 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Sunday 23 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Hunter Mahan – The top ranked player in the field lives in the Dallas area. He’s currently top of the ball-striking statistic category on the PGA Tour and that sort of consistency should translate into victory.
Rickie Fowler – The young Californian is having a great first season on the PGA Tour and is on a good run of form with two top-10 finishes in his last three starts.
Y.E. Yang – The PGA Champion will be among the favourites. He’s one of the bigger names in the field and he’ll look to make that count.
Key hole: 16th. A par-5 of 546 yards, this is a definite birdie hole. Last season it ranked second easiest on the course and played to an average of 4.6. If a player fails to make birdie here down the stretch he’ll feel as though he’s dropped a shot.
Skills required: Creativity. After D.A. Weibring’s redesign, Las Colinas asks the players to display a more eclectic array of shots both from the tee and on approach. It’s not just a “grip it and rip it,” type of course.