Quick look at the AT&T Byron Nelson
May 16, 2018
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Jordan Spieth on player reactions to Trinity Forest before AT&T Byron Nelson
DALLAS – Jordan Spieth’s best finish in his hometown event came as a 16-year-old high school junior. That tells you quite a bit about the potential he displayed – and that has since been fulfilled. It also tells you about how poor a fit the AT&T Byron Nelson’s previous venue was for Spieth’s game.
In seven starts at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas, Spieth’s T-16 in 2010 while playing on a sponsor’s exemption remains his high water mark. That’s the most starts in his career at a single course without a top-10 finish; next on that list is Torrey Pines (with three, including two missed cuts; he hasn’t played there since 2015) and Doral (also with three; the tournament has since moved to Mexico).
Spieth never could click with TPC Four Seasons, and perhaps fittingly, it ended on the sourest of notes, a missed cut last year after a second-round 75. Spieth, in fact, has enjoyed much more success at the other PGA TOUR venue in the area, Colonial in Fort Worth, where he won two years ago.
But now he – and the rest of the PGA TOUR field – gets a fresh start this week with the AT&T Byron Nelson shifting to Trinity Forest just south of downtown Dallas. Spieth is a member, and he welcomes the opportunity to hit the reset button on the links-style layout that reminds him of Royal Birkdale, the English venue in which he won the Open Championship last summer.
“I personally am happy, given my history at the other golf course -- you know, not great compared to my history at other golf courses, or other tournaments,” Spieth said about the change. “[It’s] a place where I feel I have an advantage.”
Spieth estimates he’s played Trinity Forest close to “30, 40 rounds,” albeit not in tournament conditions and set-up. He thinks the course has made significant strides in recent months, and now believes it’s ready to host a TOUR event – something he wasn’t necessarily sure of a year ago.
“Certainly an advantage having a bit of course knowledge, but we don’t exactly play PGA TOUR pins on a daily basis,” Spieth said. “It will be a little bit different. Looks in great shape. The greens have come a long way in the last few weeks….
“There was a lot of skepticism from players and caddies from last year regarding this place, and it’s been overwhelmingly positive over the last couple of days since people have gotten here. I’ve seen the same thing over last year.”
Perhaps the only player in the field who has played it more often than Spieth is local resident Hunter Mahan, a member from day one. He said he’s played approximately 70 rounds at Trinity Forest and is hoping that will pay dividends this week. Mahan’s last top-10 finish on TOUR was at the 2015 Masters.
“Every time that someone plays it, they’re kind of scratching their head on it a little bit,” Mahan said. “The next time they play and next time they play it, they start to understand it, understand the nuance of the golf course and understand it’s kind of a second-shot golf course and so many different ways to play the holes depending on the winds or pin positions, that could change your strategy off the tee.
“It’s a course that definitely helps to play a lot.”
THREE PLAYERS TO PONDER
Says “everything is starting to fall in place” in terms of his game. If so, that’s bad news for everybody else.
Defending on a different course? Always tough to swallow. At least he’s not the only one unfamiliar with Trinity Forest.
The two-time Nelson winner usually seems to find a way to content in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The 315-yard fifth is a drivable par-4. Geoff Ogivly thinks it might be the most interesting hole for fans to watch this week. “Everyone loves a short par-4. Most guys can get there in one and you really have to make a decision. That will be interesting because guys will, I assume early, most guys will hit driver and then after that a couple will get burnt and rethink and start laying it up short left. ... I think was interesting to watch not seeing three guys in every group do the same thing. Three guys do different things. This course is going to provide that all over the place, especially there.” Here’s more from Ogilvy on No. 5.
Trinity Forest Golf Club - Hole No. 5
From PGA TOUR meteorologist Stewart Williams: “High pressure will begin to build over the region and provide hot conditions through the rest of the week into the weekend. Highs will likely top out in the mid to upper 90s Thursday through Saturday. Thunderstorm chance may return late in the weekend into early next week.”
For the latest weather news from Dallas, check out PGATOUR.COM’s Weather Hub.
SOUND CHECKYou're not going to be able to fight it out there this week. You're going to have to go with it.We need to be taken out of our comfort zone more often.Where is it in my house? I have no clue.
BY THE NUMBERS
35,000 – Estimated square footage of the double-green for holes No. 3 and 11, one of the biggest greens in the state, if not in the entire U.S.
1 – Number of players who have won the PGA TOUR stops in Dallas and Fort Worth in the same year. No surprisingly, it was Ben Hogan who pulled off the feat in 1946. No player has done it on back-to-back weeks, though.
1944 – Year of the first AT&T Byron Nelson, which back then was called the Texas Victory Open … won, of course, by Nelson, at Lakewood Country Club. The tournament is the ninth oldest on TOUR.
Asked for a target score this week, Sergio Garcia said if the wind is relatively mild, it will probably be in the mid- to high teens. If the wind blows harder, then lower teens or even single digits. “It all depends on the weather,” Garcia said.
Trinity Forest member Hunter Mahan said his favorite hole is the 630-yard par-5 14th. “You're kind of hitting uphill on your tee shot so kind of a blind tee shot, don't really see it land,” Mahan said. “Then it's a completely blind second shot into the green. Your lay-up isn't really blind, you kind of know where to see it. Second shot is really interesting. So that is probably my favorite hole because I've done everything on that hole. I've made a disaster out of it and made a couple 3s on it that were really easy.”
Geoff Ogilvy was featured in some videos in which he analyzed a few of the Trinity Forest holes. Asked if players had tried to pick his brain this week, Ogilvy said no. But he added: “I had a few guys after they watched those videos say, ‘I committed to the tournament because you made it look more fun than I heard it was going to be.’”