Pictured: Jordan Spieth. Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to another weekly edition of my PGA Tour tournament preview column. Great to see some new faces in here. Anyone from, oh, I don’t know … New Jersey?
Well, just to make you feel at home (and because this is a strict no-Bon Jovi-zone), let’s fire up a little Springsteen to get us in the mood:
You put on your coat, I’ll put on my hat
You put out the dog, I’ll put out the cat
You put on your red dress for me tonight, honey
We’re going on the town now, looking for easy money.
What, you were expecting “Atlantic City”?
The PGA Tour is a long way from the Garden State this week, as it returns to Texas for a revamped version of the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Being played for the first time at Trinity Forest, a Coore & Crenshaw design built on an old landfill, the tournament is going to have a much different look than the usual parkland courses we see each week. Think Chambers Bay, but (hopefully) without greens that are being compared to broccoli.
The field is going to have a different look, too.
Ever since Nelson’s death in 2006, this tournament has lacked star power, despite the efforts of one of the best staffs on the PGA Tour and the unsinkable vivacity of Nelson’s widow, Peggy, who still greets players with homemade cookies after their rounds.
(Six years ago, on what would’ve been Byron’s 100th birthday, I spent a few days with Peggy in Fort Worth as she offered a tour of her late husband’s favorite lunch spot and church and the school named in his honor. The highlight, though, was seeing their ranch, and walking through the workshop where he spent so many hours during his retirement years. Point is, she does a tremendous job of keeping his spirit alive, especially during the tourney each year.)
We too often judge the strength of a field by its stars and work our way down. In reality, we should cull our inner Drake and start from the bottom. Unfortunately for the Nelson, each strategy shows a less-than-desirable entry list this week.
Without the cushy confines of the Four Seasons to keep players appeased, there’s been a mass exodus in the first year at Trinity. At the top, we find just two players in the top 10 in the world ranking, Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama. There are only two more (Sergio Garcia and Marc Leishman) in the next 10 and two more (Matt Kuchar and Satoshi Kodaira) in the 10 after that.
If we look at the bottom, it’s even more dire. Nothing against any of ’em, but if the likes of Kris Blanks and David Berganio Jr. and Omar Uresti are getting into your field, that means a lot of players on the list have opted out.
All of which just means we have to dig a little more deeply and do a little extra homework for this one.
Or, to go full Springsteen, this week is “Tougher Than the Rest” because we’re “Dancing in the Dark,” but by Sunday evening, let’s hope we’re all singing, “I’m On Fire.”
Before I show myself out, let’s dive into my pick to win, plus top-five and top-10 props and a few players I’m fading.