2022 AT&T Byron Nelson Preview
MASTERS champion Scottie Scheffler heads the field for the AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch near Dallas. With the PGA Championship being staged at Southern Hills next week, a number of the world’s best players are using this tournament as an opportunity to tune up for the year’s second major.
Scheffler, the world No1, is the headline act in the chase for the $1.6m first prize, and is joined by Dustin Johnson, Sam Burns, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari.
Scheffler actually made his PGA Tour debut in this event in 2014.
Burns and Scheffler surely represent the future for the PGA Tour. Scheffler’s progress has been well-enough documented but it is worth reminding ourselves what Burns has achieved.
The 25-year-old turned pro in 2017 and it hasn’t all been plain sailing. But his progress has been steady and it surprised nobody when he won the Valspar Championship in May last year and followed it with another victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship in October. And he made a successful defence of his Valspar title in March.
He racked up eight top-10 finishes last season and has already managed six more this year. Burns is now knocking on the door of the top 10 in the world rankings. He is a magnificent ball striker, has a wonderful short game and a great temperament.
Burns misses cuts here and there but, ominously for his rivals, he is probably due another big week.
One of the oddities about the Byron Nelson is that three of the past eight winners have come from South Korea. It was won in 2013 by Bae Sang-Moon, in 2019 by King Sung-soon and last year by Lee Kyoung-soon.
Lee’s victory was achieved amid terrible weather, and the organisers will be hoping there is no repeat this time. Late in the final round, players had to be evacuated from TPC Craig Ranch for more than two hours, leaving Lee with a two-shot lead and two holes remaining.
When they returned, he birdied the par-three 17th and par-five 18th for a final round of 66 that proved to be good enough for a three-shot victory over Burns.
“It was a long day for me and for everybody else in the field,” he said.
Playing with third-round leader Burns, Lee took lead at the third. He widened it to two shots on the fourth, and that was as close as anyone would get to him.
Lee and others who started late played more than half of their rounds in monsoon conditions. It was so heavy as Lee took his stance on the par-4 16th that his drive travelled just 233 yards, leaving him 245 to the hole.
The hooter blew moments later and Lee bogeyed the hole when the suspension lifted, his lead down to two but the skies now clear. In what was his 23rd start of the season. Lee had made 14 cuts but apart from finishing joint second in Phoenix, he had shown little form.
But that was of little concern as he became the eighth player from South Korea to win on the PGA Tour.
And, of course, many of the golfers teeing it up this week will have half an eye on Southern Hills, none more so than Koepka, who has missed six cuts this season, including The Masters. He has struggled with his injuries but claims to be fully fit and will be desperate to get his game in shape for the PGA, a tournament he has won twice.
It was won in 2015 by Steven Bowditch, in 2016 by Sergio Garcia, in 2017 by Billy Horschel, in 2018 by Aaron Wise, in 2019 by Kang Sung-soon and last year by Lee Kyoung-soon. There was no tournament in 2020 because of the Covid pandemic.
TPC Craig Ranch was designed by Tom Weiskopf, is a par 72 measuring 7,438 yards. It is 650 feet above sea level, which means the ball will travel even further than normal. It is a tree-lined layout with gently rolling hills, plenty of huge bunkers and rewards accurate driving
Where else to start but with Scottie Scheffler? What a year he is having. He won the Phoenix Open, Arnold Palmer Invitational, WGC Dell Technologies World Matchplay and, of course, The Masters. Oh, and he also finished second at the Hero World Challenge. Would you bet against him? If you would, consider the merits of Sam Burns, who has a win and six top-10 finishes to his name this season, and nearly won this tournament last year.
Sam Burns. As confident as they come
Scottie Scheffler. The player of the year
Dustin Johnson. Eager to arrest rankings slide
Five to Follow:
Sam Burns. Glorious short game
Scottie Scheffler. Has not a single weakness
Dustin Johnson. Showed some signs of form at Augusta
Brooks Koepka. Looking for form and fitness
Jordan Spieth. Back to his best
Outsiders to Watch:
Doc Redman. Lacking only in confidence
Matthias Schwab. Austrian has only missed two cuts in 12 starts
Aaron Rai. Quietly making a name for himself on the PGA Tour
Francesco Molinari. Many golf fans are rooting for the Italian
How You Can Watch:
Thursday and Friday, Sky Sports Golf, 5pm, Saturday and Sunday, 6pm
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