Here is a preview of the 2016 AT&T Byron Nelson, which begins Thursday at TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas:
- Who: 10 of golf’s top 30 players in the Official World Golf Ranking highlight the field, headlined by No. 2 Jordan Spieth and No. 8 Dustin Johnson
- What: 72-hole stroke play
- When: Thursday-Friday: 4-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday: 1-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. (CBS)
- Where: Par-70, 7,166 yard TPC Four Seasons Resort at Las Colinas
- Why: Winner receives 500 FedEx Cup points and $1,314,000 out of $7.3 million purse.
What to watch for
SPIETH HOMECOMING: When did you first hear the name Jordan Spieth? For many it was the 2010 Nelson, when the then-16-year-old local Dallas kid burst into contention before finishing tied for 16th. Oddly, the World No. 2 has failed to match that finish in four subsequent starts at the event, posting a follow-up best of a tie for 30th last year. Spieth, in fact, has yet to win a PGA Tour event in Texas. He’ll be looking for something to smile about this week for sure, as he comes off a missed cut at The Players Championship that followed his late collapse at the Masters.
DJ’S PLAYGROUND: Dustin Johnson loves this tournament, if you look at the results. The 31-year-old has finished in the top 10 at the Nelson four times in six starts. But victory has eluded him here. That includes a missed opportunity last year, when Johnson quadruple-bogeyed the par-4 sixth on his way to a T-8 finish. Now is as good a time as ever to finally pull through for the title. Johnson only placed T-28 at The Players, but he preceded that with a solo third and a T-4, respectively, at the Shell Houston Open and the Masters.
DEFENDING CHAMP STRUGGLES: The two-year PGA Tour exemption is nice, but last year’s win at the Nelson hasn’t exactly been a renaissance for Steven Bowditch. The Aussie followed up his second career PGA Tour win with six top-25s in his next 13 starts. But the last few months have been absolutely brutal. Bowditch has missed six of his last seven cuts on the PGA Tour, with his only weekend showing coming at the WGC- Cadillac Championship (a.k.a. a no-cut event). Even there, golf sought to strike him down, as Bowditch posted all four rounds in the 80s. The Aussie has posted a round of 80 or higher eight times in this run. It’s hard to believe this was the same guy who closed in 64 for a four-shot win at last year’s Nelson. Then again, Bowditch had a stretch of seven missed cuts in eight starts early last year. So history says that maybe another huge Bowditch performance isn’t far off.
GOMEZ EYES OAKMONT: If you are top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week, you’ve earned a spot in the 2016 U.S. Open. This information is most pertinent to Sony Open champion Fabian Gomez, who begins the week at No. 61 and is not yet exempt into the Open. Move up at least one spot in the OWGR in Irving and he’s in. Chris Kirk (No. 55) and Anirban Lahiri (No. 56) aren’t exempt yet either, so they must be careful this week at the Nelson.
BRYSON’S CHASE: DeChambeau played his college golf 30 minutes away at SMU, so what a story it would be if he could finish off his quest at the Nelson! DeChambeau needs 238 more FedEx Cup points to receive special temporary status (and unlimited sponsor invites) on the PGA Tour. He needs to earn the equivalent number of money or FedEx points as No. 125 on the money list this season to earn his card for next season (last year’s No. 125 earned $747,899 and 458 points, and DeChambeau currently has $259,600 and 123 points). So he’ll need a big week at the Nelson to finish off that charge by Sunday.