Soggy conditions in play at AT&T Byron Nelson
May 26, 2015
By Mike McAllister , PGATOUR.COM
- May 26, 2015
- Some players said the wet TPC Four Seasons Resort course will favor the longer hitters. (Mike McAllister/PGA TOUR)
IRVING, Texas – Brendon Todd played nine practice holes on Tuesday while gearing up to defend his AT&T Byron Nelson crown. He found the TPC Four Seasons Resort course to be, well, a little soggy.
Make that extremely soggy.
“The golf course is totally under water,” he said. “Not a dry spot in any fairway.”
Just like last week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial 30 miles to the west, this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson will be hampered by wet conditions and unrelenting rain that threatens to turn this month into the wettest May in Dallas-Fort Worth history. Nearly 12 inches of rain has been recorded this month, and the record is 13.66 inches set in 1982.
It has rained 19 of the last 25 days in the D-FW area, and so it’s no surprise that rain is in the forecast every day this week. PGA TOUR meteorologist Stewart Williams said there is a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms for Thursday’s first round, with the percentage increasing to at least 50 percent for the final three days of the tournament.
Whatever amount of rain that falls will be on top of the 3-1/4 inches that fell on Sunday, and the inch in the week before that, and the 5 inches that fell the weekend before the TOUR arrived in the Metroplex.
“It’s just insult to injury at this point,” Williams said. “It just keeps adding up. That’s the unfortunate thing. We don’t get enough of a break for the course to dry out enough.”
The players will be challenged -- and evidently, so will the spectators.
"It's pretty sloppy out there," said rookie Justin Thomas. "It's going to be tough for spectators to get around. Definitely going to be some people falling this week. I'll be sure to watch out for that."
It took some good decision-making – and some good fortune – to get last week’s event at Colonial completed in its regular time frame.
Tournament officials moved up the tee times – and utilized threesomes off two tees – for Saturday’s third round and play was finished before the rain hit. The same decision was made for Sunday, but the round was delayed three hours in the morning. Once the groups went off, Colonial managed to avoid the heavy rains in the area.
In fact, the sun even showed up for the last couple of hours of play. It’s the only time the sun had been seen in the last week. On Tuesday afternoon, the clouds parted above TPC Four Seasons Resort, but the course remained saturated.
Players said Colonial managed to stay surprisingly dry, but preferred lies were in effect throughout the week, with preferred lies through the green on Sunday. It was the first time since the 2009 Turning Stone Resort Championship that rules officials had taken that unusual step at a TOUR event.
No official word yet on what kind of rules will be in effect this week, but Todd won’t be surprised to see similar decisions being made.
“I’m sure we’ll be playing lift, clean and place,” he said.
Said Thomas after his practice round: "It's very, very wet. I probably have never seen a course that drenched. There's nothing that they can do about that at all. It's out of their hands."
Because of the wet conditions, Todd said he expects TPC Four Seasons Resort to play much longer than normal. He cited the 504-yard par-4 15th, which he says will play as a “true par 4” this week. “A good portion of the field is going to be bring a hybrid or 3-iron to that green,” he added. “Almost like a par-4 1/2.”
A year ago, Todd won the AT&T Byron Nelson in hot, dry conditions, with wind as the course’s main defense. That’s usually the case in Texas.
Williams said the wind will not be a factor this week, with breezes from the south forecast to be just 10-15 mph. “Nothing outrageous,” he said.
This week’s conditions, Williams said, are reminiscent of the weather for the 1994 Byron Nelson, which was reduced to 36 holes after 2 inches of rain wiped out Thursday’s play, and another inch wiped out Friday’s schedule. Neal Lancaster eventually won the event in a six-man playoff, the largest in TOUR history.
“I guess it’s the every-20-years week,” Williams said. “Hopefully, we’ll get lucky this week and the storms will happen late in the evening and overnight, and we can get some golf in during the day.”
When golf is finally played, expect some of the bigger hitters to make an impact. The soft conditions will put a premium on length since there will be little roll-out. The shorter hitters likely will be at a disadvantage.
That’s not good news for the defending champ.
“It’s not like you’re going to see me and Mike Weir on top of the leaderboard on Sunday in a week where the golf course is under water,” Todd said.
“We like to drive the ball lower, down the middle, chase it out there and use our wedges and short game to win. When it gets soft, it seems to bring the longer players in. … You’re going to see a hundred guys under par and you’re probably going to get some of the bombers up there near the top of the board.”