I don't like to lead these stories with pessimistic views of things, but I know that world No. 2 Jordan Spieth is kicking himself right now. Spieth so badly wants to win a PGA tournament in his home state of Texas, and he was potentially in position to do so last week at Colonial. Spieth was right there with a handful of others but suffered his only bogey of Sunday on the par-3 16th, and he fell one shot short of winner Chris Kirk.
I'm happy for Kirk as he led the Players Championship two weeks ago entering the final round but struggled with a 75 to finish T13. Kirk entered last Sunday tied for fourth, three strokes off the lead held by Kevin Na. Kirk nearly blew his one-shot lead on No. 18 but made up for a hooked tee shot into the rough by draining a 7-foot par putt for his fourth career win. The irony of that wayward tee shot was that Kirk purposefully didn't use his driver because he had been struggling with it.
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"My first three wins on Tour have all been little tap-ins on the last hole," Kirk said to the media. "So to step up and make a putt that I knew was to win is something I'll never forget."
Spieth, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Bohn, who shot a final-round 63 (the low round of the week), were second at 11-under. Snedeker had a birdie putt at the final hole from 12 feet that would have forced a playoff, but he pulled it. Bohn's birdie putt from 27 1/2 feet on the final hole spun out, costing him a chance at a playoff. Of the Top 23 players on the final leaderboard, just three failed to produce a Sunday round in the 60s. Those were the three guys in the final group: Na, Ian Poulter and Charley Hoffman.
Kirk wasn't on my radar last week to win, unfortunately. I did take him head-to-head over Na. The two guys I liked to win were Zach Johnson, who was T19 and, as a longer shot, and Boo Weekley, who finished T33 despite an opening 64. I hit on Spieth for a Top 10 and a finishing position "under" 7.5. Also got correct "over" positions of 20.5 for Jimmy Walker and 21.5 for Adam Scott. I also got Johnson over Walker. Not my best tournament but not awful.
This week the Tour completes its mini-Texas Swing at the AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Four Seasons Resort-Las Colinas outside of Dallas. You may have noticed there's some major weather in Texas this week, and this tournament likely will be affected by it. Part of Irving sustained damage from a 110-mph tornado, but it seems like the course will be OK. Still, there could be more storms this weekend. It's not a stellar field because some of the top players will play the next three weeks: the Memorial, St. Jude Classic and then U.S. Open. Plus, some Europeans are staying overseas after last week's big event (in which Rory McIlroy shockingly missed the cut). A total of 10 of the world's Top 30 are set to play.
Last year, Brendon Todd shot a final-round, bogey-free 66 to beat Mike Weir by two shots. It was his first career win in start No. 77. He played the final 31 holes without a bogey. Four of the past five winners of the Byron Nelson have been first-timers. No one has repeated since Tom Watson won three straight from 1978-80.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: AT&T Byron Nelson Betting Favorites (from Bovada)
Predictably, Spieth is the heavy 9/2 favorite. I wonder where his head is at after coming up just short last week. This will be his first time playing his hometown event as a major champion. Spieth has now finished second in all three Texas events this season. Interestingly, his best finish here was a T16 as an amateur five years ago. He was T37 last year.
Dustin Johnson is 11/1. He's slumping a bit with a T69 and T43 in his past two stroke-play events. Johnson has finished in the Top 20 his past four times here, highlighted by a T7 last year.
Jason Day (16/1), Snedeker (22/1), Walker, Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson (all 28/1) round out the favorites. Day got his first Tour win here in 2010, was fifth a year later and T9 the next. He didn't play last year. Snedeker missed the cut in 2014 but obviously played well last week down the road.
PGA Tour Picks: AT&T Byron Nelson Expert Betting Predictions
I actually don't like Spieth for a Top 10 this week. Go Top 20, though at -500. I do like Dustin Johnson at even money for a Top 10. Ditto Gary Woodland (+275) and Hoffman (+275), who has played well in Texas this year. Go with Marc Leishman at 3/1 as the top Australian over Day (11/10). Martin Laird at 5/1 as top European and Charl Schwartzel at 11/4 as top South African.
Head-to-head, go with Dustin Johnson (+125) over Spieth (-165), Day (-140) over Snedeker (+110), Walker (-115) over Zach Johnson (-115), Woodland (-115) over Hoffman (-115), Keegan Bradley (-115) over Ian Poulter (-115), and Leishman (-120) over Ryan Palmer (-110).
I am torn between two players to win this week: Bradley at 33/1 and Leishman at the same price (no Bovada Top-10 options, but there are on other sites). Alas, they have both won Tour events before. Bradley won here in 2011 and almost did two years later. Leishman has five finishes of T12 or better at this tournament.
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