The PGA Tour is back in Texas for another Texas two step. First up is the HP Byron Nelson Championship where we have a stronger field than usual. I think some of the upper echelon players maybe feeling some pressure to get some FedEx Points and Ryder Cup Points as we are a little over halfway through the season.
As usual, you have to beware of the Texas winds as that will effect scoring. Just take a look at some of the winners over the years: 2009: Rory Sabbatini -19 (261, aggregate course record), 2010: Jason Day -10, 2011: Keegan Bradley -3, 2012: Jason Dufner -11, and 2013: Sang-Moon Bae -13. The difference between 2009 and 2011 can be attributed to the winds.
This year, we should have some good scoring conditions on Thursday and Friday. The greens should be soft after the course has been hit with some rain, and Thursday and Friday shouldn’t be to windy as they will only be around 10 MPH. On Saturday and Sunday the winds will pick up as they should hit around 20 MPH. With all that said, let’s get right into some picks and some golfers to keep an eye on.
James Driscoll- The Massachusetts native has found a home here in Irving, Texas. We talk a lot about certain courses fitting the eye of certain golfers. This is one of those cases. Driscoll’s eye, his swing, just fits here at the TPC Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas.
Since 2009, Driscoll has made the cut in every tournament. In 2009, he finished T-35, 2010: T-59, 2011: T-8, 2012: T-19, and 2013: T-33. Now, Driscoll hasn’t been in any real good form lately, but that hasn’t stopped him from playing here at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Last year, heading into the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Driscoll played in six tournaments and missed the cut in three of those tournaments (and didn’t play on Sunday in one other tournament). In 2012, he missed the cut at the Players, in 2011 he played in ten tournaments and missed the cut in half of those tournaments.
In 2010, he played in 12 tournaments and missed the cut in 6 of those tournaments (and, once again, didn’t play on Sunday in one other tournament.) And, in 2009, Driscoll played in 5 tournaments, but missed the cut in four of those tournaments.
So, basically, what I’m saying is that even though he isn’t playing good golf this year; he really hasn’t played good golf throughout his career, but he has always played well here at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. If you’re loading up on top heavy favorites and don’t have much of a budget, Driscoll might be the best pick up on the cheap end.
Marc Leishman- I don’t really consider Leishman a sleeper pick per say, but he has a lot of value in the fantasy money games. Leishman should be a very high money pick, but he really isn’t. I mentioned Leishman as a sleeper pick last week, so I won’t go over his season results, but he did finish T-23 last week.
Leishman has played the HP Byron Nelson Championship really well over the years. He finished T-12 last year, T-3 in 2012, an MC in 2011, and a T-12 in 2010. Leishman looks like a really good, safe pick up this week. He should be a lock at making the cut and at least finish in the top 25.
Jhonatthan Vegas- I’m taking a flyer here on Johnny Vegas. Vegas has only played here at the HP Byron Nelson Championship once and he played well enough to make the cut and finish T-69. That might be what he does here this year. Vegas has, quietly, been pretty consistent this year. He’s played in 13 events this year and has made the cut in 10 of those events.
Vegas is also a long hitter that will serve him well here at the TPC Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas. Plus, Vegas went to college at Texas and knows the area pretty well.
Granted, he didn’t play very well a month and a half ago at the Texas Open and Houston Open (an MC at the Texas Open and a T-72 at the Houston Open). Nevertheless, I think Vegas might be a pretty good pick on the low end. It’s a flyer, but I don’t know, call it a feeling.