Formerly known as the HP Byron Nelson until 2014, the AT&T Byron Nelson is a special one this year – after playing the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas for 34 years, this will be the 35th and last edition of the Byron Nelson held at the TPC course. Next year, the tournament moves to Dallas and Trinity Forest Golf Club. This championship honors one of the greats of the game, Byron Nelson, who notched 5 majors and 52 tournament wins in his career, a win total that ranks 6th in PGA history. Ranked the 5th best golfer of all time by Golf Digest in 2000 and 7th by Sports Illustrated in 2009, Nelson was a born and bred Texan. The tournament has been named after him since 1968.
TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas is a very interesting course, as it holds the length of a Par 72 yet is a Par 70 at 7,166 yards. That is because there are only two par 5’s on the course compared to four par 3’s, along with a pair of par 4’s that eclipse the 500 yard mark – those being the 528-yard 3rd hole and 504-yard 15th. With that type of course layout, Par 4 Scoring and Approaches from 175-200 yards are key stats to look at this week. On top of that, Four Seasons Las Colinas brings with it a great deal of water and tree trouble if players are not striping drives and approaches, so Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Approaches will be important as well, per usual. There are two Americans players who check out well in those areas, as well as having two of the best course histories in the field this week…
Jason Dufner (DK $8,800) – Dufner won’t necessarily convince you this week based on stats, but he holds pretty solid numbers across the board. He comes into this week ranked 38th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and 61st in Strokes Gained: Approaches. From 175-200 yards out, the key distance we pinpointed this week for approaches, he fares in the middle of the pack at 77th on Tour. All that being said, when it comes to Par 4 Scoring, there are few better than Dufner this year, as he enters this week ranked 7th in that department and 3rd in Par 4 Birdie or Better. There are no warning signs for Dufner this week, and it’s really his recent tournament finishes and course history here that lead us to love Duf Daddy.
Currently, Dufner is on a made cut streak of 10, and that isn’t even the best part of this stretch for Dufner. Since made cut #1 of 10 at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, Dufner has also notched 7 top-25’s in those tournaments. Dufner has only been above par twice this season (the Masters and THE PLAYERS), and is -58 in his past 10 tournaments (avg. of -5.8 per tournament, -1.45 per round). And this is a good week for Dufner to come in having alot of tournament momentum, as he has enjoyed TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas over the years. After coming in T8th in 2011, Dufner won the Byron Nelson in 2012 after shooting 12 strokes better to finish 11-under. The next couple years, Dufner only fared T33 and T48, respectively, but had yet another T8 finish here in 2015. Dufner shot a solid 9-under in last year’s tournament, leading to another top-25 (T24) for him at this course. Expect Dufner to use that course familiarity and recent momentum to gain yet another top-10 to his season.
Matt Kuchar (DK $8,700) – Kuchar is not necessarily going to jump out on the statboard either, faring only 69th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and 136th in Strokes Gained: Approaches. That being said, Kuchar finds his bread and butter in Par 4 Scoring. Only ranking 59th on Tour this year, Kuchar usually smooth sails through the par 4’s, ranking 8th in Par 4 Scoring just last year, 10th in 2015, and 3rd on Tour in that department.
Stats are not necessarily why we love Kuchar though this week – that is due to his solid tournament performances that have come to define the veteran’s recent seasons. So far in 2017, Kuch has 2 top-10’s and 4 other top-25’s in 11 tournaments played. He sported a solid T4 after making a Sunday charge at the Masters, and also notched a T11 at the RBC Heritage just last month. Kuchar struggled on Saturday of THE PLAYERS to miss the secondary cut, but that can be attributed to the stormy weather that bothered a lot of premier players. Like Dufner, Kuchar has played the Byron Nelson every year since 2011, finishing T6 that year. The next two years he fared T15 and T33. In 2014, the last year the tournament was sponsored by HP, Kuchar finished T7, and then T39 in AT&T’s first year as the tournament host. That course history is already extremely solid, but Kuchar’s history at Four Seasons Las Colinas gets the cherry on top with his 3rd place finish last year after shooting 14-under. For a price of only $8,700 this week, Kuchar is our favorite play of the week and a great combo play with our other Must-Have, Dufner.