Jimmy To Beat Jordan To HP Byron Nelson
Jordan Spieth currently heads the betting for the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Texas Thursday but I’ve a sneaky feeling another few candidates may just trump the young prodigy this weekend.
Established in 1944, this tournament is one of only two PGA tour stops to be named after former players, the other being the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It is the leading charity fundraising event on the tour and is estimated to have raised around $121 million over the years. American golfers don’t have a great recent record in this event, winning just five of the last ten renewals and only two of the last six.
Since 2008, this tournament has been based at the Four Seasons Resort, Las Colinas, Irving, Texas. The course is short and narrow, with big greens which offer plenty of birdie opportunities, so accuracy to the greens and a hot putter are the keys to success, rather than power and distance off the tee. It can also get pretty breezy at Four Seasons, so the ability to flight the ball low into the wind is also important.
In The Bunker
Three top tens in five outings mark Jordan Speith out as one of the PGA Tour’s in-form players, but I don’t think he should be the antepost favourite this week. This will be his fourth appearance in his hometown event, but he has yet to break into the top fifteen. He may also take a while to get over his disappointment at the Players Championship last week where five bogeys on the last day saw him slip from overnight leader to finish fourth. At 12/1 he doesn’t look good value.
FedEx Cup points leader Jimmy Walker has made the top twenty-five in seven of his last eight tournaments, including a couple of top tens in his last three, and his performance at the Players Championship was particularly eye-catching. After a slow start, he stormed into the top ten with a superb final round of 65 and if he can carry that form into this week, he’ll be a solid bet at 22/1.
A couple of top tens are all Charl Schwartzel has to show for what has been a disappointing 2014 so far, and his run of ordinary form continued at the Players Championship last week when he ruined his chances with an ugly third round 77. But his third on course and tournament debut last year was an eye-catching performance and that makes him an interesting contender at 25/1 despite his recent form.
In his home-state event, it’s also worth considering Texan Ryan Palmer this week. He’s been hit and miss so far this year, but has managed three top tens and his recent record in this event is worth noting. He finished second behind Keegan Bradley in a play-off at Four Seasons in 2011 and made the top ten in 2012. At 40/1 he’s a decent outside bet to add to your shortlist.