Sports Network Selections
- Pick To Win:
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Marc Leishman
- Last Week's Pick To Win - Tiger Woods
- Last Week's Darkhorse - Kevin Streelman
The PGA Tour travels to the Lone Star State for one of the most storied events
on tour, as players begin gearing up for the U.S. Open Championship in
four weeks. Five of the top 25 players in the world and the last four winners
of this tournament are expected to compete. The highest-ranked player in the
field is Louis Oosthuizen at No. 7 in the world. He is joined by Matt Kuchar
(12), 2011 champion Keegan Bradley (14), defending champion Jason Dufner (20)
and 2010 champion Jason Day (25). The purse increased $200,000 from last year
to $6.7 million, with the winner receiving $1,206,000.
The ninth-oldest tournament on tour -- not including the majors -- the HP
Byron Nelson Championship is one of only two events named for a player. The
other event is the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which was known as the Bay Hill
Invitational until 2007. Nelson has had his name attached to this tournament
since 1968. This will be the seventh staging since Nelson passed away at the
age of 94 in September of 2006.
This week, Dufner will try to become the first player since Tom Watson in
1978-80 to successfully defend his title. Only Watson, Sam Snead and Jack
Nicklaus have won consecutive titles, with Watson winning three in a row.
Previous winners of this prestigious event include: Snead, Nicklaus, Watson,
Ben Crenshaw, Payne Stewart, Nick Price, Fred Couples, Ernie Els, Phil
Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia. International players
have had great success the past several years, winning six times in the last
Last year, Dufner poured in a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win by
a single stroke over Dicky Pride. Dufner fired four rounds in the 60s to
finish at 11-under-par 269. The win was his second in four weeks on the PGA
In 2011, Bradley parred the first playoff hole to defeat Ryan Palmer and earn
his first PGA Tour title. He became the first rookie to win this tournament.
Bradley shot rounds of 66-71-72-68 to get in at 3-under-par 277. Palmer rolled
in a six-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to force the
playoff. Palmer's birdie on the 18th at the TPC-Four Seasons Resort was one of
just two on that hole in the final round. Bradley would go on to win the PGA
Championship in 2011 in his first appearance in a major and was named the 2011
PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
Bradley's 3-under-par total in 2011 was the highest winning score in relation
to par since Bruce Lietzke's 1-over-par total in 1981. It was the highest in a
non-major since David Duval's 3-under winning score at the 1999 Players
In 2010, Day got up and down for bogey on the 18th hole after hitting his ball
in the water, and that was good enough to give him the win by two shots over
Brian Gay, Blake Adams and Jeff Overton. Day fired rounds of 66-65-67-72 and
ended at 10-under-par 270 to earn his first victory on the PGA Tour.
Rory Sabbatini grabbed the lead for good with a birdie on the 11th hole in the
final round, but needed four more birdies to secure his 2009 win. Sabbatini
closed with a 6-under 64 to finish with a 72-hole scoring record of 19-under-
par 261. He bested the old mark of 262, which Loren Roberts and Steve Pate set
in 1999. The win was Sabbatini's fifth on the PGA Tour. With the victory,
Sabbatini became the 14th player win Nelson's and Ben Hogan's (Colonial)
tournaments. His final-round, 6-under 64 was the lowest final round by a
winner at this event since Peter Thomson fired a 63 in 1956.
In one of the most emotional victories on tour, Scott Verplank captured the
2007 tournament, as he fashioned four sub-70 scores to clip Luke Donald by a
shot. The Dallas resident, who had strong ties to the late tournament host,
overcame a 3-shot deficit during the final day to claim his fifth career win.
The victory came in his 21st appearance at the tournament, the most starts by
a winner claiming his first Byron Nelson Championship.
Verplank became the sixth player over the age of 40 to win here, joining Snead
(1957-58), Roberto de Vicenzo (1966), John Cook (1998), Roberts (1999) and
Woods missed the cut at the 2005 event. It marked the first time he missed a
cut on the PGA Tour since he withdrew from the 1998 AT&T Pebble Beach National
Pro-Am, ending his PGA Tour record of 142 consecutive events in the money. In
nine appearances at this tournament, Woods has six top-5 finishes, including a
win in 1997.
Nelson won the first Nelson Championship in 1944 and went on to win the
season-long money title. There have been five other players to accomplish that
feat: Hogan (1946), Nicklaus (1971), Watson (1978-80), Woods (1997) and Singh
(2003). Watson, a four-time winner, has finished in the top ten 14 times and
made the cut in 23 of 28 Nelsons.
Nine players have captured their first PGA Tour victory at this event: Don
January (1956), Charles Coody (1964), Mark Hayes (1976), Neal Lancaster
(1994), Robert Damron (2000), Ted Purdy (2005), Brett Wetterich (2006),
Day (2010) and Bradley (2011).
The PGA Tour remains in Texas next week for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at
Colonial in Fort Worth, where Zach Johnson will defend his title.
05/14 16:45:40 ET