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May 15 2013

3:45 PM

Stats suggest: HP Byron Nelson

By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Insider

TPC Four Seasons has hosted the HP Byron Nelson Championship singularly since 2008, so this week's focus centers only on the last five editions of the tournament outside Dallas.

The $6.7-million question is which TPC Four Seasons will show up this week. Will it be the track that surrendered a tournament-record, 19-under 261 to Rory Sabbatini in 2009? Or will something more in line of 3-under 277 -- the aggregate Keegan Bradley rode to his playoff victory over Ryan Palmer in 2011 -- be in the offing? The answer is likely somewhere in between.

Sabbatini torched the greens for just 103 putts en route to his two-stroke triumph. He made 10 putts from outside 10 feet and ranked sixth in strokes gained-putting. Despite finishing 28th in fairways hit and 38th in greens in regulation, he still placed second in par-3 scoring and third in par-4 scoring. What's absent from the stats is that the winds laid down all week, allowing the South African to convert a field-high 26 birdies on a course that relies on Mother Nature to help defend par.

Two years later, in conditions in which you'd rather only fly a kite, Bradley imparted the bulk of his damage closer to the ground. He missed only one of 64 attempts from 7 feet and in. While that's impressive, to put Sabbatini's long-range success into perspective, Bradley converted on just three of 43 attempts outside 10 feet. The 2011 Rookie of the Year ranked 28th in strokes gained-putting during his title run.

Similar to what we learned in advance of last week's stop at par-72 TPC Sawgrass, the last five champions at TPC Four Seasons, a par 70, have scored extremely well on the par 4s. From Adam Scott in 2008 through defending champion Jason Dufner, all ranked inside the top three in par-4 scoring average. The only other relevant stat that comes close to that kind of consistency among the winners is scrambling. None ranked worse than Sabbatini, who was 17th. What's downright head-scratching is that both champs that ranked outside the top 10 in scrambling -- Jason Day was the other at 14th in 2010 -- were the same two that ranked outside the top 10 in greens in regulation the same week -- Sabbatini placed 38th, Day 50th.

That puts immense pressure on one's putting. Yet, in what remains his only victory on the PGA TOUR, Day turned in a career-defining performance with his putter. He led his field in stroked gained (2.003), putts per GIR (1.605), fewest putts (101) and one-putt percentage (54.17). He also went 55-for-56 from 7 feet and in and made 10 putts from outside 10 feet.

So, while TPC Four Seasons plays on paper as a ball-striker's yard, it won't discriminate against a guy that has a hot putter. Scott (ninth in GIR; ninth in SG-P) is the only winner that has ranked inside the top 25 in both greens in regulation and strokes gained-putting en route to his victory.

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