PGA Tour back in Texas for EDS Byron Nelson
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2007 EDS Byron Nelson Championship | Preview | 24 Apr 2007
The EDS Byron Nelson Championship takes the PGA Tour back to Texas this week with the event to be once again played over the two courses at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving near Dallas.
The host course, the TPC Las Colinas, was a joint consultation between Jay Morrish, Ben Crenshaw and Byron Nelson. Morrish would go on to great success as a designer with courses such as the Troon North Monument course in Scottsdale and the Loch Lomond course in Scotland, both done in consultation with Tom Weiskopf.
The course underwent significant changes in 1999 under the design of Morrish. Both courses have Penncross and Crenshaw Bentgrass greens oversown with ryegrass and Bermuda 419 fairways. The TPC course is par 70 and measures 7017 yards.
The Cottonwood Valley course is shorter at 6900 yards (par 70) and is essentially a hybrid design between Robert Trent Jones Jnr and again Jay Morrish. It opened in 1988 but a further nine holes were blended into the original course in 1985. It has also undergone changes, more especially to its bunkering, in 2002.
The tournament, as its name suggests, has a rich tradition on the PGA Tour being first played in 1944 when Byron Nelson himself played and won the event.
Brett Wetterich is the defending champion having defeated Trevor Immelman by one shot last year after a final round battle with the South African and the Australian, Adam Scott, to win his first PGA Tour event.
The field is headed by Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh who are both previous winners of the event, Singh in 2003 and Mickelson in 1996. Both are playing well enough to win the event for the second time, more especially Singh.
Sergio Garcia is a past winner here and appeared to be playing his way into some very good form prior to the Masters where he missed the cut. He was 5th at Bay Hill and third at Doral so that form might be more relevant than a poor week at Augusta in assessing his chances this week.
Luke Donald has had several good results at this event and is in good form in recent weeks as witnessed by his top tens finishes at Augusta and Bay Hill.
Sean O’Hair finished runner up to Ted Purdy in his rookie PGA Tour season in 2005 and also played well last year when 18th. He has found form again in recent weeks and should be a factor on two golf courses where he clearly has a comfort zone.
Brett Wetterich will have the pressure of a defending champion this week but he played well a few weeks ago at Doral where he finished runner up to Woods and there is no Tiger in the field this week. He likes this venue obviously and so it would not surprise to see him figure in the finish once again.
One player who might be worth considering at slightly longer odds is J.J. Henry who has played well enough of late for him to move up a notch this week. He has played this event well in each of the last two years.
Bo Van Pelt also appears to have a good chance at longer odds.
The Australians have several strong chances. Robert Allenby was going very well in season 2007 before his ordinary effort at Augusta while Stuart Appleby led into the final round at the Masters before finishing 7th. Appleby had finished runner up to Adam Scott in Houston a week earlier so is in very good form. He has not done all that well in this event but Allenby finished third to Vijay Singh in 2003.
Other Australasians in the field are Nick O’Hern, local residents Rod Pampling, John Senden and Nathan Green, the much improved Stephen Leaney, Andrew Buckle, Mathew Goggin, Steve Elkington, Mark Hensby, Jarrod Lyle, Paul Gow, Michael Sim, Gavin Coles and New Zealander, Craig Perks.
The tournament has prizemoney of US$6.3 million.
Photo – Anthony Powter