PGA Tour Preview: A New Venue For the Nelson Brings Complaints

Last Week

While Webb Simpson was decimating the field at The Players Championship, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods were electrifying the crowd with Saturday rounds of 65 to get both players back into the tournament entering Sunday's final round. They were both underdogs amongst free betting tips with 11 shots off the pace, but another good round and a Simpson collapse gave them both a chance to make history.

It didn't happen, as the former U.S. Open champion Simpson did what was necessary to hold onto a 7-shot lead and go onto victory, but Woods got to within four shots of the lead after a birdie at the par 5 11th hole that put him in second place after starting the third round in a tie for 69th after barely making the cut. A bogey at the 14th and a ball in the water at the famed island green 17th relegated Woods to a tie for 11th, but he definitely served notice that he can contend on the weekend.

Simpson was flawless on the greens all week, seemingly making everything he looked at from inside 15 feet. The weather was very conducive to low scoring, with virtually no wind and relatively soft conditions. Next year, the Players moves back to March, with the prospect of higher rough and firmer conditions.

This Week

The AT&T Byron Nelson
Dallas, Texas
Trinity Forest Golf Club - par 71
Defending Champion: Billy Horschel - 12 under par 268 (at TPC Four Seasons Resort)

2018 Field

* None of the top 20, eight of the top 50, and 31 of the top 100 in FedEx Cup points.

* Two of the top 10, four of the top 20, seven of the top 50, and 19 of the top 100 in the World Golf ranking

* Twenty countries represented

* Eleven colleges have three or more former players represented: Alabama (3), Arizona (4), Clemson (4), Florida (5), Georgia (4), Georgia Tech (5), Oklahoma State (5), Stanford (3), Texas (3), Texas A&M (4), Washington (3)

* Oldest Player: Omar Uresti (49)

* Youngest Player: Noah Goodwin (17)

* Major Champions (10): Ernie Els (4), Jordan Spieth (3), Padraig Harrington (3), Angel Cabrera (2), Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Jimmy Walker, Geoff Ogilvy, David Duval

* Total Tour Victories: 266 (Ernie Els, 19)

* Total Major Victories: 18 (Erie Els, 4)

What to Look For

With the move to Trinity Forest, it's hard to predict what the tournament will look like. I was in Dallas covering the LPGA event a couple of weeks ago, and the overwhelming sentiment among the people I spoke with was negative. They liked the TPC Four Seasons and wondered why the tournament was moved to the new venue. My local Dallas sources intimated that the move was political in nature and had been greeted in mostly negative terms from the Metroplex golfing community. Given the new site for the tournament, it's difficult to predict what type of golfer will benefit from the course setup, a links style layout with wide fairways and large greens.

From a field perspective, we go from the deepest one of the year at the Players to one of the most anemic at the Nelson, with over two-thirds of the field outside the top 500 in the Official World Golf Rankings. It resembles more of a Web.com event than one on the PGA Tour. I'm sure the timing, as well as the change in course have something to do with most top players opting out of the event, but the Tour needs to carefully evaluate their decision to move the tournament from a very popular location. Obviously, Jordan Spieth should be the favorite, playing in his home town and bringing a No. 3 world ranking into Trinity Forest. My money is on Matt Kuchar, who has knocked on the door for years and is playing well enough to add another victory to his resume.

Kevin Krest is the author of the entertaining PK Frazier series of sports suspense novels and the co-host of the weekly "The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports" broadcast. His books can be found on Amazon.com.

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