HP Byron Nelson Championship
Defending Champion: Jason Dufner
I like to think I can predict future. Some people tell me I’ve LOST IT. But it’s them who’ve lost it, cause now I have proof! Last week, in this very space, I made two extremely prescient declarations:
1. In regards to Tiger Woods: “I’ve passed on Tiger in two of his five eligible events so far this season and he won both, so know that.”
Make that three.
2. On my selection of Sergio Garcia: “This recommendation is Thursday through Saturday only”
Stupid Sergio, I really could have used the bonus points.
Also, if I ever recommend Garcia again, please do me favor and tweet me this picture, over and over, until I take my meds.
Adding that picture put me over my required word count. Great Success! Oh, Jesus, remember when that was a thing? Lets get to the Byron Nelson before continue to reveal how out of date I’ve become… NOT! No wait, yes.
Jason Dufner, Jason Day & Keegan Bradley – Google “the past three champions at the Byron Nelson” and your search will return these three names. Bless your heart Google, despite lending your name to that awful looking Vince Vaughn movie, tarnishing your trademark. Quick Tip: If a movie is rated PG-13 for “crude humor”, it has a 99% chance of being a piece of crap. Also, there’s a 1% margin of error on that number.
In retrospect, it appears like a victory at TPC Four Seasons has been a pretty good gauge of which golfers will continue their surge towards the top of the sport. All three currently rest inside the Top 25 in the world rankings, are ultra familiar with the course and although the there hasn’t been a repeat winner since Bruce Lietzke in 1988 – who? – they’re still primed to be lurking on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday. It’s basically impossible to pick a winner at any golf event, so roll with the players that have the highest probability of a strong finish: That’s Dufner, Day and Bradley.
Louis Oosthuizen – Surprisingly, Oosthuizen is the top ranked player in the field. Why surprisingly? Well, it’s been a few months since the South African’s trademark gap received any Sunday screen time. After bridging 2012 and 2013 with seven Top 6 finishes in eight events, capped with a win at the Volvo Masters in January, Lucky Louie sat a career best No 4 in the world. But those results were on the European, Chinese, Asian and African Tours, not exactly the fields known for their depth. Evidence by his struggles upon his arrival in America – could have been worse though, he could have been forced to work the counter at McDowell’s. Oosthuizen landed in Tucson for the Match Play in February and has seemingly lost his stroke since. Yes, he posted a Top 10 at the Houston Open, but the strength of that field was very comparable to the events on the lesser tours he dominated. Meaning, he’ll be in the mix in the Dallas suburbs. This week’s competition is definitely diluted with basically all of the top talent taking a week of rest after The Players, and the 2010 Open champion has thrived against these situations. Get him in.
Brian Davis – An unconventional pick? Sure. Especially since he has a lone Top 25 to his credit in 13 starts. While elite results have yet to materialize, Davis has been slowly improving. After missing six of eight cuts to open the season, he’s played the weekend in his last six turns, including star heavy fields like the Wells Fargo and last week’s Player’s Championship. So, at least, he has a modicum of momentum behind him. And, don’t discount his experience here. He’s played this event the past seven seasons, earning some of his best career results in the process – T8 in 2006 and a T2 in 2009.
Jimmy Walker – A breakthrough is looming for Walker, it just has to be. He’s been lingering on leaderboards all season and, simply through the law of averages, a win is inevitable. With his T15 at the Players, that makes it 13 straight events playing all four rounds, posting Top 20s in seven of those tournaments. And with all the inconsistent week-to-week play from even the best players this season, Walker has been solid every time he has laced up the soft spikes.
Charl Schwartzel – Schwartzel hasn’t looked great since the Honda Classic back in March, but it’s not like he’s played poorly, either. He’s still managed to make every cut this year and is just too damn good not to be a factor come Sunday.
Marc Leishman – The Aussie had positioned himself to walk away with the Green Jacket a month back until a pedestrian final round 72 left him a step off the podium. Like most, I thought we’d witnessed an aberrational event from the journeyman – a fluke – but he’s parlayed his success at Augusta into some impressive results the subsequent tournaments. In my face. After squeaking into the Top 10 at the Heritage, Leishman followed it up with a T8 at the Players – making it three consecutive Top 10s. Add in his tie for third here last season and the sleeper selection of the week has emerged from the pack.
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