We head to the middle of the country this week as Texas and Kansas City take center stage. The PGA Tour takes on Trinity Forest, and the Web.com invades the land of Club Pro Guy.
The AT&T Byron Nelson gets underway at Trinity Forest for the second year this week. Formerly held at TPC Las Colinas, the event has undergone a major upgrade with the move to this Coore/Crenshaw masterpiece. Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, and Hideki Matusyama headline the last field prior to the PGA Championship. Tee Times
Brains of the operation
Last year’s AT&T Byron Nelson was Aaron Wise’s introduction to the casual golf fan. An NCAA champion at Oregon and winner on both the Web.com and Mackenzie Tours, Wise shot three rounds of 65 or better at Trinity Forest and won by three shots over Marc Leishman. His victory would help propel him to Rookie of the Year honors.
The Course – Trinity Forest offers one of the most distinctive challenges on the PGA Tour. The Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design is closer to a links course than any other venue on the PGA Tour. In its inaugural year at Trinity Forest, the Tour, fearing player criticism, played it safe by raising the height of the fairway cut and moving up tees. Coupled with rain, this setup made Trinity Forest far softer and slower than the architects intended. This year, early signs point to the Tour letting the course play slightly more as it was intended. For instance, the back tee on No. 14 will be used, which will bring that hole’s centerline bunker into play. If the tournament manages to dodge the forecasted rains, we might get to see Trinity Forest’s superb architecture on full display. Check out Andy’s course preview and videos from last year here.
Major prep – Believe it or not, we have a major championship next week. It’s only mid-May, but the new PGA Tour schedule has already gotten to the meat of the season. This week will serve as a tune-up for Bethpage for the elite players in the field. Look for the likes of Koepka, Spieth, Matsuyama, Leishman, Stenson, and Reed to round into form before heading to next week’s PGA Championship.
Field strength – In years prior, the Nelson would feature one of the season’s stronger fields. But because of a change in venue and now a change in schedule, this year’s tournament sports a less-than-stellar cast of players. With one of the Tour’s biggest sponsors in AT&T saddled with the event, it will be interesting to see if the Tour will do anything to remedy the situation in Dallas.
With a weaker field, Paulie is jumping on some bigger names at this week’s Byron Nelson. Check out his picks here.
A week with the Royals
We have another treat of a golf tournament across the pond this week. Tommy Fleetwood plays host to the Betfred British Masters at Hillside Golf Club in his hometown of Southport, England. Joining Tommy Locks are fellow English stars Matt Wallace, Tyrrell Hatton, Eddie Pepperell, and Lee Westwood. Other notables in the field include Martin Kaymer, Chris Wood, Ashun Wu, and Min Woo Lee. Tee Times
Tony Romo is grinding
This type of story would normally go in our “Quick Hooks” section, but Tony Romo’s comments struck a chord. Todd Archer of ESPN followed Romo for a day of practice as he prepared to play in the AT&T Byron Nelson. The full storydetails Tony’s love of the game and how much he plays these days. It also shines a light on his sponsor’s exemption this week, and Romo makes some curious statements about his spot in the field:
“You have to show you have the ability. You don’t just get [exemptions] randomly. You’ve got to be able to perform at some time in front of somebody who thinks you deserve it. I’ve been practicing … and I practice really hard at it, just like a touring pro. Same type of schedule. Mornings you get up, it’s a routine, just like you’re playing football. I understand you only get so many [exemptions], so you’ve got to perform. Hopefully that time is coming.”
Well, you do get random exemptions, and Romo himself is proof of that. He is in the Nelson field because he was a Dallas Cowboy, not because of his golfing ability. His four previous PGA Tour rounds are 77, 82, 79, 80, and he finished T-72 out of 76 in Web.com Tour Q-School last fall. We’re not saying Romo should have turned down the exemption this week, but for him to imply that merit has something to do with his presence in the field is… well, interesting.
The Web.com Tour’s revamped schedule brings it to Kansas City this week for the KC Golf Classic. Robby Shelton looks to continue his hot streak after finishing in the top four in each of his last three events. Tee Times
Tiger took a trip to the White House on Monday, where he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. TW joins Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Charlie Sifford as the only golfers to have received the medal. Full Story from Michael Bamberger
Evidently John Daly will get to use a cart in the PGA Championship. Never a dull moment in Daly Town. Full Story from Joel Beall
Chris Kirk announced via social media that he will be taking a leave of absence to focus on his mental health. Kirk acknowledged that he has suffered from alcohol abuse and depression in recent years, but he is making it a priority to get better for his family.
NCAA Women Regional tournaments will finish up on Wednesday. Head over to Golfstat.com to follow along and see if your favorite school makes it to the NCAA Championship!
The Steam Shovel
This past weekend, The Fried Egg held its first-ever event at Lawsonia Links in Green Lake, WI. Eight-eight players came out for 36 holes of best ball and alternate shot on the stunning Langford & Moreau design. In the end, Andrew Denenberg and David McFarlin took home the overall gross title and gross alternate shot title, while the Micah Mogler and TFE’s own Will Knights took home the overall net title and best ball. Winning the net alternate shot title was Dave Jorgensen and Chad Lewis, and Chirs Soifelt and Sam McHale topped the gross best ball. Congrats to the winners, and thank you to all who came out and played in our inaugural event. We look forward to the next one. More info coming soon.
We are celebrating the PGA at Bethpage with a limited edition New York TFE hat. Pre-order yours today, quantities are limited.
The Latest Podcasts and Articles
Trinity Forest chat, Tony Romo’s big ambitions, and ‘walk or ride’ comes to the PGA
This Wednesday’s episode goes long on this week’s event, the Byron Nelson. We get into the unique (for the PGA Tour) course, Trinity Forest in Dallas. We discuss some of its key features and why it makes for such a different watch and test on the PGA Tour. We also chat about the British Masters, its quality venue, and whether Chicagoan Matt Fitzpatrick will ever be able to host this event. Then we get to Tony Romo’s exemption at the Nelson, his hockey-style putting stroke, his intense practice habits, his sizable over-under number for round one, and his big plans to play more tour golf. In news, we hit on John Daly getting approval to use a cart at next week’s PGA Championship. How will this work, especially on what could be a rain-soaked Bethpage? Is the 90-degree rule in effect? Cart path only? Will you get relief from a tire mark? So many questions before we wrap with Paulie’s Picks and an abominable and astonishing Nelson one-and-done selection from one participant. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify