The AT&T Byron Nelson Championship preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
“Bro…I’m puttin it out there”. So said Dustbin as he dispensed with conventional wisdom at The Players and hit the fat boy whenever he felt like it. It says something about the man..dim?..perhaps..but it wasn’t a major and he’s minted and lets face it you’d put it out there bro if yours was as long as Dustbins.
To further recap on The Players.
Rory killed it tee to green then did what he’s been doing all year on the browns. Rickie we suspected would struggle. Jordan likewise, though it was his putting that let him down. I mentioned these top line players as much to support the clans’ long held belief that to win at golf wagering you have to seek value alternatives to the main chances. Yes Day romped home but the chasers got close at one point and failed to put pressure on him.
On to the mini Texas swing with this and then Colonial next week. Jordan made his debut here as a callow 16 year old (actually has he ever been callow?) but that 16th was his best ever finish – odd.
No Rory or Jason or Rickie and Dustbin – as much as we admire his let it fly baby attitude – has to be left alone given his price, 9/1, if nothing else despite 4 top 10’s in his last 5 starts here.
The venue is TPC four seasons which like most, if not all Tour courses, is a constant work in progress. The current incarnation is a 7,150+ par 70. There is a strong element of runoffs with tight lies designed to test scrambling if your tee to green game is off.
Last years winner Steven Bowditch has posted some epically bad scores this season as his game has abandoned him. All 4 rounds in the 60’s last year was a tournament record – albeit with the number one ranked hole the 14th, reduced to a 104-yard par 3 because of storm damage.
Other recent winners include Brendon Todd, Jason Dufner and Keegan Badly – sorry Bradley.
Soft conditions look likely this year so lots of birdies and another low scoring event appear on the cards.
Who’ll carry our wagers this week?
Came alive last week with a 63 in the 2nd round at The Players. Significantly he then hung on in the much tougher conditions to post a career high tied 3rd. This allied to his 10th here last year and having been schooled in Texas strikes me as a perfect blend of form, confidence and familiarity that might see Colt shoot to the top if the leader board (I couldn’t resist). Its not as if the man doesn’t have pedigree. His best two seasons on the tour are 2015/16 and this one. He’s missed one cut this year and posted 2 top 10’s and 5 top 25’s from 16 starts. Both accurate off the tee and tee to green generally – he hit 80+% of greens at the The Players – the catalyst for his excellent year is his overall strokes gained putting at .541. Throw in stokes gained putting figures like: 1.560 The Players, 1.234 RBC Heritage, 1.907 Pebble Beach, 1,750 at the Sony Open etc, etc – this is a player who can seriously putt. The 30 year old with a great amateur record, US Amateur Champ 2007 amongst a litany of honours, has served his time on the Web.com and main tours and could just be one of those players that takes time to mature.
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Another schooled in Texas the part robot, part movie star with his nod to Hogan, DeChambeau could be anything. Forget the last two missed cuts. He came off the back of an amazing 21st at the Masters to post a 4th the next week at the Heritage on his professional debut. Of course he teed it up in Europe so he’s no stranger to professional golf.
To have gone from the hoopla associated with being the leading amateur at the Masters and then post a 4th the very next week on your Tour debut was impressive.
The missed cuts I see as an inevitable consequence of a comedown and the hectic media commitments post Masters. Like Speith he knows its all coming his way and its just a matter of time. He doesn’t even care about the money because that is inevitable. He wants to win and he has the game to do so.
The one plane swing with the same length irons will long be trotted out as the defining image of Bryson but the proofs in the pudding. It’s too early to draw any conclusions about DeChambeau’s game statistically but we do know: he’s not short with 292 average. His accuracy could be called into question but as I say its early days and despite this he comes in at .627 in strokes gained tee to green. He can also putt with a .303 strokes gained putting.
Suffice to say your star is not in the ascendancy like Bryson’s if you haven’t shown what you can do and this boy has, becoming only the 5th player to win the NCAA Championship and the US Amateur in the same year.
He expects to win and it could be this week.
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