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Preview: PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson Championship

Preview – PGA Tour – AT&T Byron Nelson Championship – TPC Four Seasons Resort at Las Colinas – Irving, Texas –

This week’s PGA Tour stop at the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons Resort at Las Colinas dates back to classic champions like Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Tom Watson and, of course, Bryon Nelson.

A dozen players have withdrawn this week including Jason Day, the 8th-ranked player in the world, and Ian Poulter. Day reported being a bit dizzy, while Poulter said he strained a muscle during a workout. Poulter was in the mix last week to win playing in the final group but faded Sunday to a T-5 at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

This tournament has yielding first-time champions including Sang-Moon Bae in 2013 and last year’s Brendon Todd in recent years. In fact, four of the last five champions have been first-timers. Several recent past champions has used this title to spring board their careers including Jason Dufner (a champion in 2011), Keegan Bradley (2012) and Day, who won here in 2010.

High profile first-timers who could contend this week include Justin Thomas, Dan Berger and Morgan Hoffmann. Also keep an eye on Brian Harman.

Jordan Spieth is the headliner this week at No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The Masters champion is trying to contend here in his home-town event. World No. 10 Dustin Johnson is the longest hitter in the field. Americans Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker are also competing.

TPC Four Seasons is par-70 layout and stretches to more than 7,100 yards. The signature hole at TPC Las Colinas is the 198-yard par-3 17th hole, but the most difficult scoring hole is historically No. 18. The course requires strong putting skills considering its large, undulating surfaces.

Strong Texas winds and rain could also play a big factor this week.

2014 Recap:

  • Todd (14-under) captured the title for his maiden victory on the PGA Tour. He finished two clear of Mike Weir shooting 66 in the final round. Marc Leishman and Charles Howell III were T-3 at 10-under, while James Hahn and Boo Weekley logged T-5 efforts. Louis Oosthuizen, the 54-hole leader, faded Sunday with a 74.

FANTASY: With a number of WDs, be sure to adjust your line up. Keegan Bradley has a great history here with a win in 2012 and runner-up in 2013. Take Leishman at TPC. He has five Top 12s in six starts here including T-3 finishes in 2012 and 2014. Play Snedeker, who led on the back-nine last week in Texas before finishing T-2 and shot out of a playoff. His putter might be heating up at the right moment for this week.

BETTORS: Spieth, who has yet to record a Top 15 in four appearances here, is the betting favorite at www.skybet.com at 5-to-1 odds. Dustin Johnson (12-1) has some value here. He has four Top 20s his last four starts at TPC Four Seasons and won WGC-Cadillac Championship in March. Bradley (33-1) is due for a victory. He has failed to secure a PGA Tour win in 2014 and this is as good a spot as any for his game. Take Gary Woodland at 28-1. Woodland was T-7 last season. He trends well with a runner-up in match play and T-4 at Quail Hollow.

The Golf Channel has coverage Thursday and Friday with CBS Sports handling television Saturday and Sunday.

Other Golf News:

  • The European Tour hosts the Irish Open this week at Royal County Down Golf Club in Northern Ireland. Mikko Ilonen is the defending champion. The field features Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia. Rory is the betting favorite at 3-1 odds, while Fowler makes his first start since winning THE PLAYERS Championship.
  • Inbee Park and Lydia Ko headline the field at the LPGA Tour’s ShopRite LPGA Classic in New Jersey. Stacy Lewis is the event’s defending champion. Lewis is looking for her first win of 2015.
  • Fowler is a 10-1 pick, while Garcia is listed at 14-1 at www.skybet.com to capture the Irish Open. Consider Tommy Fleetwood at 33-1 and Byeong-Hun An (35-1), who won last week’s BMW PGA Championship by seven shots.