HP Byron Nelson Champ. experts' picks

May, 15, 2012
Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: The HP Byron Nelson Championship.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Jason Day
Let's see here ... he's played the event twice. He won two years ago and finished fifth last year. I'd say that qualifies as a "horse," but this year we might have to put an asterisk by his name as wife Ellie is about to give birth to the couple's first child at any moment. And since neither know the sex of the child, if she goes into labor and he misses the birth ... let's just say sleeping on the sofa is never good for a golfer's back!

Richard Durrett, ESPN Dallas.com writer: Jeff Overton
I'm betting this is a popular pick this week. He was tied for second in 2010 and tied for eighth in 2011. He's played well in 2012 and is primed to have a good week.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Jeff Overton
The 28-year-old Indiana grad had a T-2 at the Nelson in 2010 and a T-8 last year.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Phil Mickelson
Perhaps a mystery that he's played the event too infrequently of late. This is his first appearance since 2007, when he tied for third. He won the tournament in 1996 and has six top-15 appearances in the event.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Jeff Overton
The former U.S. Ryder Cupper had only four top-10s last year, but one of them came at the TPC Four Seasons Resort course, host of this week's tournament. Toss in his T-2 in 2010 and the Hoosier knows how to get around this track.

Birdie Buster

Michael Collins: Robert Garrigus
He's going to be the man to watch if you want to see some big drives. But he also ranks eight in greens in regulation, which will be a big help this week. If he and Dr. Evil (his putter) can find a way to come to an understanding on the tricky greens of the TPC Four Seasons Resort, he'll have a big week.

Richard Durrett: Phil Mickelson
Lefty is always capable of going low. And while he hasn't played the TPC Four Seasons since 2007, he went 66-65 on the weekend that year to finish tied for third, and he has a gaggle of low rounds in his career at the tournament.

Farrell Evans: Carl Pettersson
The Swede got his fourth top-10 last week at The Players with a tie for 10th. The former North Carolina State star has cooled off some since he got a second and a win in back-to-back weeks in April, but his game is still on the upswing.

Bob Harig: Matt Kuchar
He's coming off the biggest victory of his career at The Players Championship, so celebratory hangover and motivation could be an issue. But Kuchar is obviously playing well, and has been all year. And he tied for sixth at the Nelson last year.

Kevin Maguire: Blake Adams
He's missed more cuts (8) than he's made (7) so far this season, but good old country boy Adams played great at TPC Sawgrass last week and owns at T-2 finish at the Nelson in 2010.

Super Sleeper

Michael Collins: Arjun Atwal
You ever have one of those courses that no matter how bad you were playing coming in, you just feel better driving into the parking lot and know everything is going to be OK? This is that course for Arjun. In 13 starts this year, he's made a total of two cuts, but he's finished top-10 at this place the last two years and that "good vibe" will continue for him this week.

Richard Durrett: Brian Gay
He has made the cut three of his last four Nelsons, and in all three of those he finished tied for 14th or better. He was tied for second in 2010 after a final-round 63. He likes the course.

Farrell Evans: David Mathis
The 38-year-old journeyman has missed 11 of 15 cuts in 2012, but he had a tie for 15th last week at The Players. A two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour, the former Campbell University star had missed 10 of his first 12 cuts before getting a T-10 in New Orleans.

Bob Harig: Carl Pettersson
The winner of the RBC Heritage last month quietly had a tie for 10th at The Players and shot under 70 in both weekend rounds at the TPC Sawgrass.

Kevin Maguire: Patrick Reed
Think Q-school is hard? Try earning PGA Tour status via Monday qualifying. That's what the former All-American Reed has done his last two starts, and he made the cut both times. He also qualified Monday for this week's HP Byron Nelson Championship, taking medalist honors with a 64 to beat the field by three shots. Talk about earning his stripes.


Michael Collins: Jason Dufner
Feel the excitement level go to a 2½! Well, for Duff that's about as high as it goes. Look for him to get his second win of 2012 at a course where he finished tied for eighth last year (and hadn't played it since 2007). This course takes a man with his attitude to conquer.

Richard Durrett: Adam Scott
It's difficult not to bet on him this week. He's playing well, putting well (and you need a good putter on those tricky greens) and won the tournament in 2008, just after they made the course changes.

Farrell Evans: Phil Mickelson
Lefty wouldn't admit it, but he was tired last week at Sawgrass following his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. His fatigue showed as he faded on Sunday with a 73. But his battery will be recharged this week as he tries to get his second Byron Nelson title.

Bob Harig: Adam Scott
His appearances have been rare this year on the PGA Tour, but he did tie for 15th at The Players and won the Nelson in 2008. Scott hasn't won since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last August but is set to embark on a busy schedule.

Kevin Maguire: Phil Mickelson
He hasn't played this tournament since 2007, but wouldn't a Lefty win not only rejuvenate this event but also prove that his Hall of Fame induction last week was a bit too soon?





You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?