The AT&T Byron Nelson Championship first started out as the Texas Victory Open in 1944. It was played at Lakewood Country Club and Byron Nelson was the tournament’s first winner.
In 1968 the event was renamed the Byron Nelson Golf Classic and the tournament has been associated with the Nelson name since.
The TPC Las Colinas course at the Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas served as the host course from 1986 -1993. From 1994, the tournament was played at two courses, the TPC course and the Cottonwood Valley Course, both located at the Four Seasons Resort. However, in 2008 the tournament reverted to using only the TPC course, which was significantly renovated.
In 2018, the AT&T Byron Nelson moved to Trinity Forest Golf Club as part of a three year deal. However, last year’s event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, the tournament is moving outside Dallas County’s borders for the first time to McKinney’s TPC Craig Ranch in Collin County. TPC Craig Ranch will be the host course for the next five editions of the AT&T Byron Nelson.
McKinney businessman, David Craig, developed the $30M golf club which was completed in 2004. His vision from the outset was that the course would someday host the Byron Nelson tournament.
“When we hired Tom Weiskopf to design TPC Craig Ranch, I made it very clear that my vision was that this golf course would someday host the Byron Nelson,”David Craig
The 7,438-yard Par 72 was designed by Tom Weiskopf and is a member of the Tournament Players Club network operated by the PGA Tour. It was the venue for season ending 2008 Nationwide Tour Championship and the 2012 Web.com Championship.
Matt Bettencourt won the 2008 Nationwide Tour Championship on a score of -17 (267), 1 shot clear of Jeff Klauk. Justin Boli won the 2012 edition of the Web.com Tour Championship at TPC Craig Ranch on a score -16 (268).
TPC Craig Ranch is about ten miles from the future site of the PGA of America headquarters. The new headquarters has two championship courses under construction, one of which is scheduled to host the 2027 PGA Championship.
The course features a variety of challenges. From short Par 4’s such as the drivable 14th that measures just 330 yards to three Par 3’s that play over 215 yards. The Par 3 7th tops out at 232 yards. The stock Par 5’s average out at a modest 558 yards. The closing hole on the outward nine features the longest Par 5 at 569 yards.
On the face of it, those who find the short grass with regularity this week should prosper. The course’s biggest defense looks to be the wind and if it blows, the importance of accuracy increases and hitting greens in regulation becomes challenging.
Some fairways twist and turn at odd distances and angles, so long hitters could risk driving through fairways on several holes. Placement, rather than distance, will be key.
Like with all new courses introduced into the PGA Tour rota, it is hard to find an angle in. The ‘go-to‘ statistic for newbie courses is Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green which continues to highlight the best of the best on Tour. Its value is amplified when unfamiliar greens serve as the targets. While putting would normally be at a premium, the ‘unfamiliarity-factor’ and new sightlines will test all aspects of a player’s game.
The layout looks to be a solid all-round test of golf that should yield plenty Birdies. Expect players in the mix to have a healthy percentage of greens in regulation with first class putting and a low scoring average on the Par 5’s. Perfect week to boost confidence for those heading to Kiawah Island for next week’s PGA Championship.
AT&T Byron Nelson Tips
Daniel Berger 16/1 (E/W) – with course form null and void this week, clues as to who might prosper shifts to Current Form and Stats. Two areas where the Florida native doesn’t disappoint. Has 4 x Top 10’s from 13 starts this season including a win at the AT&T Pebble Beach. He also finished T13 on his last outing at the RBC Heritage. Around Harbor Town Links he was 14th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and 7th for Strokes Gained Approach-The-Green. A rock solid all-round game puts him an eye-catching 2nd in this week’s Stats Analysis table. He is also 5th on Tour for Birdie Average. The 28 year old’s game has matured and elevated to a different level this season. This week sets up nicely to make it win No. 2 this season.
Ryan Palmer 40/1 (E/W) – no surprise to see the big hitting Texan tee it up this week at TPC Craig Ranch. Has 8 x Top 25 finishes from 15 starts this season including a runner in the Farmers Insurance Open. Places 5th in this week’s Stats Analysis, he is also 14th on Tour for Birdie Average and 30th for GIR. Most players at the top end of the market will have one eye on next week’s PGA Championship. On the flip-side, a return to the winners circle in a stroke-play event in just over 10 years would mean the world to Palmer. Good value each way pick.
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