Jordan Spieth highlights the field for this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson. But with just five of the world’s top-50 players in the field, the big story entering the tournament arguably is the debut of Trinity Forest Golf Club.
The 7,380-yard, par-71 Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design resembles many of the great old courses of the Northeast and Great Britain, according to Trinity Forest’s website – links style, tall native grasses, dramatic bunkering, and difficult, undulating green complexes.
Trinity Forest is not overly demanding off the tee, but rather is considered a second-shot golf course where proximity to the hole is especially important. Since no players have tournament experience on this course, some stats to look at this week includes strokes gained: approach-the-green, strokes gained: putting and proximity to the hole. Players who have played well on British Open venues and have some creativity and the ability to play different types of shots around the green, including bump-and-runs, should do well in their debut at Trinity Forest.
Here are my top 15 fantasy golf option for this week’s Nelson:
1. Jordan Spieth: Don’t pay too much attention to that T-41 at Players. A closing quad kept him from a top-20 finish. Prior to that Spieth had been in top 3 in two straight stroke-play events. He’s still outside the top 180 in SGP, but he’s ninth in SGATG and T-7 in proximity. Plus, he has experience at Trinity Forest considering his instructor, Cameron McCormick, is based there.
2. Jimmy Walker: Has turned his game around with a fourth at Valero and T-2 at Players. Loves playing in Texas and climbed to 23rd in SGP after a strong performance with the putter at TPC Sawgrass. Also ranks 52nd in SGATG.
3. Matt Kuchar: T-17 at Players was his fifth finish of T-28 or better in his last six starts, though the top-10 machine has just three this season. 55th or better in SGP, SGATG and proximity, and has a game that fits this type of golf.
4. Charles Howell III: Five top-25s in last six starts for Chucky Three Sticks. Jumped into top 100 in SGP after T-17 at Players and is top 50 in SGATG.
5. Adam Scott: T-11 at Players was his best finish since Memphis last June. Ranks 18th in SGATG, but T-111 in proximity and 168th in SGP.
6. Marc Leishman: Has been hit-or-miss this season, especially recently with top-10s at Masters and API but also three finishes outside of the top 50 in his last four starts. Ranks 27th in SGATG, but dropped 43 spots to 125th in SGP after the Players. Also eighth in strokes gained: around-the-green.
7. Sergio Garcia: Has gone MC, MC, 70th in last three starts, but he does rank fourth in SGATG and his game should translate nicely to the linksy Trinity Forest.
8. Chez Reavie: Iron play has been stellar this season as he ranks 21st in SGATG and ninth in proximity. T-30 at Players was his best stroke-play finish since posting back-to-back top-2s at Phoenix, Pebble.
9. Branden Grace: Just one top-10 on Tour this season, though won on the European Tour late last year. More importantly, no MCs this season. Ballstriking numbers aren’t good, but he is sixth in SGP.
10. Scott Piercy: Sandwiched his team win at Zurich with MCs at Valero and Players. Dropped to 187th in SGP, but leads the Tour in SGATG and is T-15 in proximity.
11. Billy Horschel: Has gone T-5, T-11, win (Zurich) and T-37 since missing five of six cuts. Jumped to T-34 in SGP after Players, though is also 197th in proximity.
12. Beau Hossler: Has cracked top 30 just once in four starts since nearly winning in Houston, but has some knowledge of Trinity Forest. Iron play hasn’t been great this season, but he does rank 32nd in SGP.
13. Johnson Wagner: T-20 and T-13 in last two Tour starts, and ranks eighth in SGP and T-50 in proximity.
14. Martin Laird: Sleeper play as he’s made six of last seven cuts, a run that includes three top-11s. Putting it well (21st in SGP) and also T-38 in proximity. Love his deft touch around the greens, too.
15. James Hahn: Has missed three cuts, but also has shown an ability to contend when least expected. Ranks T-36 in SGATG and T-57 in proximity while sitting just outside the top 100 in SGP.
16. Kevin Na: Nothing better than T-36 in five starts since T-2 at Riviera, but he’s around the top 50 in SGP and proximity, and moved up 10 spots to 86th in SGATG. Trending.
17. J.J. Spaun: Has made just three cuts in nine tries since his runner-up at RSM. However, he was recently T-26 at Valero and while his putter has been a liability, he is 10th in SGATG and 14th in proximity. If he could just get some putts to drop, he could surprise.
18. Russell Knox: Has missed three of last four cuts, but should feel a little bit at home at linksy Trinity Forest. He’s 13th in proximity, which will be important considering he’s also 188th in SGP.
19. Andrew Putnam: Ranks 41st in SGATG and 61st in strokes gained: around-the-green. Has also cracked top 8 in two of last four Tour starts.
20. Hideki Matsuyama: The biggest question mark in the field. He has elite talent, but hasn’t shown it much since returning from a left-wrist injury at Bay Hill. Coming off MC at Players as he dropped from 36th to 105th in SGATG. Also ranks second to last, or 207th, in proximity. Avoiding him this week, but still rank him in the top 20 in hopes that he can figure things out quickly. Plus, he’s fourth in strokes gained: around-the-green.