CUT LINE: Top 70 and ties (2nd cut after 54 holes if field is above 78)
THE COURSE: TPC Four Seasons – 7,166 yards, Par 70, with tree-lined narrow fairways, 58 bunkers, and undulating greens. Four Seasons has only two par 5s, but Holes 2 and 5 are both 500+ yard par 4s. 3 of the 4 Par 3s are above 170 yards. Bermuda grass in the fairways and rough, and Bentgrass greens.
STATS: The stats that show their importance for this week’s plays are Driving Distance (this will be a bomber’s course), Par 4 Scoring, Sand Save Percentage (SSP), and Greens in Regulation (GIR). Strokes Gained Putting won’t be much of a factor due to the way the greens play – the fast undulating greens should normalize the disadvantage poor putters have this week. Also won`t focus on Driving Accuracy, as the narrow fairways will hurt even the most accurate off the tee so shouldn’t be a factor either.
- Dustin Johnson ($11900): DJ is the 2nd most expensive player on the board for a reason – 8th ranked in the world, finished T10 in four of his last five appearances at the Byron Nelson, and has the key stats necessary for success on Sunday. He’s 4th in Driving Distance, 65th GIR, 177th in SSP (although he’s only been dirty 59 times this season), and 7th in Par 4 scoring. He hasn’t gone the distance here, but it’s just a matter of time and I like his chances to make some noise this week.
GPP Ownership Projection: 22%
- Matt Kuchar ($10500): Kuchar hasn’t missed the cut here in the 8 times he’s played. Matt doesn’t bomb it, with only the 156th best Driving Distance of 283yds, but he’s 31st in Par 4, 48% in GIR, and saves out of the sand 51% of the time, good for 82nd. Given course history and his last month of play (T3, T42, T24, T9), he`s a safe bet to be in contention on the weekend. One concern here is the weather – with it raining leading up to Thursday, his shorter hitting will put him at a disadvantage.
GPP Ownership Projection: 18%
- Charl Schwartzel ($10100): Charl is nails at getting to the green, ranking 10th among all golfers in GIR. His driving distance is good enough (293.6) that I wouldn`t be scared off, and his SSP is slightly better than almost everyone else listed here at 52% – again though, that`s a smaller sample because he`s so good at finding green. He doesn`t have the same stellar history that Kuchar has at the Nelson, but if you`re looking for an extra $400 to spend, he offers a better value and slightly higher ceiling than Kuchar does.
OTHER GOLFERS TO CONSIDER (ranked in order):
Hudson Swafford ($6400), Sean O`Hair ($7000), Gary Woodland ($8500), Alex Cejka ($6800), Bryson DeChambeau ($8300), Spencer Levin ($6700)
With Byron Nelson being in Irving, Texas, there are some plays you could make this week off the Home Field narrative – Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Sean O`Hair, Ryan Palmer, etc.
Don`t be afraid to go cheap this week – the last 5 winners include Steven Bowditch, Brendon Todd, Sangmoon Bae, Jason Dufner, and Keegan Bradley. Not exactly a murderer`s row.
I`ll be fading Jordan Spieth this week across all lineups because where Jordan excels so much (putting) won`t have as much of an impact on the field, and I just can`t justify his cost. Spieth made his debut here as a 16 year old only 6 years ago (feel old?), finished T16, and hasn’t hit that since.
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Good luck this week, and feel free to follow me on twitter @adaleyfrey