By Dave Shedloski
What began as the Dallas Open in 1944 is now known as the AT&T Byron Nelson, named for the legendary golfer. His name first was attached in 1968, making it the first PGA TOUR event to put a player on its marquee. Nelson just happened to be the very first winner of the tournament, and he also helped Jay Morrish with the original course design of the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas.
Nine of the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking are in the field, including No. 1 and reigning U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, No. 3 Jason Day and Masters winner and world No. 6 Sergio Garcia. Also on hand is Dallas native Jordan Spieth, No. 5 in the world, who last year won at Colonial. The two-time major winner will be going for the Dallas-Fort Worth double this week. Fifteen men previously have achieved the feat.
>>WATCH: AT&T Byron Nelson Live Stream
Garcia is the defending champion and goes for his third win overall in this event, something only Tom Watson and Sam Snead have achieved. Last year he defeated Brooks Koepka on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with a par at No. 18 after Koepka drove into the water.
Featuring large undulating greens after a 2007 renovation by D.A. Weibring and Steve Wolfard, TPC Four Seasons is a par-70 layout measuring 7,166 yards.
CBS Sports lead analyst Sir Nick Faldo looks at what to expect at TPC Las Colinas.
This was the first PGA TOUR event that took on the name of a player. Any personal remembrances of Byron Nelson?
I saw him for years at the Masters champions dinner, when he was the host, and it was always wonderful listening to him talk about golf in his era. Of course, I played in the event a few times and saw him here and there, and that was always special. It’s great that his name is still associated with the tournament.
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Speaking of the Masters, Sergio Garcia is riding a wave after winning the green jacket. What will it take to defend this week?
He had a golden opportunity at Augusta, and he took it. And now, being the Masters champion, there’s a lot of extra stuff to do. Last week he shot 40 on the front nine [at The Players]. Now [that] the Masters is over, he has to come down from that and play golf again. He did alright after that, though he struggled a bit on Sunday. You always try a little harder when you’re trying to defend, and he’ll be really inspired to defend.
A hometown event for Jordan Spieth who missed the cut at The Players. Is this a good week for him to get back on track?
It will help, being at home. One quality is that he gives it full attention, and after missing the cut for a third straight year at The Players, he’ll be anxious to erase that memory. The one thing he has to be careful about is how much emotion he is expending on the golf course. He analyzes every single shot, and that can take a lot of energy out of you. We all fall for it. We hit nine great shots, and then we fluff one and react to that one miss. Why did that happen? He has to take more out of his good shots. He has such great ability. The way this game is you only hit maybe 20 percent or so good shots and the rest is dealing with negativity. He’s working twice as hard as he needs to be.
Last call for this venue, Las Colinas. What about the layout has made it a good venue?
It’s a nice golf course the way it’s threaded in there. It’s a bit cramped. I always enjoyed it. It gets your attention. That third hole is a toughie. Eight is pretty hard. The finish is pretty strong. You have half a dozen tough holes and some good scoring opportunities on the rest of it. But you have to manage your game.
Give us a few favorites and a dark horse or two.
Jason Day won for the first time here. He’s working hard, and maybe it will pay off this week. Brooks Koepka has been solid of late. Dark horse, Charl Schwartzel has such a beautiful game, and he just needs to get the putter going. It’s been such a momentum killer. But watch out when he does start to see a few go in.
Journalist and author David Shedloski of Columbus, Ohio, has been covering golf since 1986, first as a daily newspaper reporter and later as a freelance writer for various magazines and Internet outlets. A winner of 23 national writing awards, including 20 for golf coverage, Shedloski is currently a contributing writer for Golf World and GolfDigest.com and serves as editorial director for The Memorial, the official magazine of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. He is the author of three books and has contributed to three others, including the second edition of “Golf For Dummies,” with Gary McCord. He’s a fan of all Cleveland professional sports teams, the poor fellow.