With all due respect to Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, there's little question that right now the world's best golfer is Aussie Jason Day, and that has been the case since right after last year's British Open.
Day was brilliant at the Players Championship in going wire-to-wire to win the event, at 15-under 273, for the first time in his career. He was the first wire-to-wire winner at TPC Sawgrass in 16 years, and it was Day's seventh victory overall in the past 17 starts. That's pretty incredible. Only five other players since 1960 have produced such a stretch. Tiger Woods did it an absurd seven times.
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This stretch began after Day just missed out on the playoff at the 2015 British Open. He won the next week at the Canadian Open and was off and running. Day, who led the Players field in driving distance, scrambling and putting percentage from outside 10 feet, now ranks second among active players under 30 with 10 PGA Tour wins. Rory McIlroy, 27, has one more than the 28-year-old Day. He also has now won the past five events he has led or shared the 54-hole lead. Day also has three wire-to-wire wins now too.
I'll certainly admit when I'm wrong, and I was on Day at the Players as I didn't see him playing that well. He had missed the cut in three of his past five visits. My choice to win was Spain's Sergio Garcia as he almost always plays well at TPC Sawgrass. Alas, he blew up with 77-75 on the weekend after a second-round 66. I had tournament favorite McIlroy for a Top-10 finish but he missed that by a shot. His third-round 75 was a killer. I also liked Henrik Stenson for a Top 10, but he missed the dang cut. The top American was Kevin Chappell, who finished four shots back of Day in second. I liked defending champion Rickie Fowler there, and he missed the cut.
So all in all, pretty much my worst tournament of 2016. Thus, let's move on. The Tour begins its two-week Texas Swing on Thursday with the AT&T Byron Nelson at the TPC Four Seasons Resort at Las Colinas in Irving. Still no Tiger, but he was in the news Monday when he visited Congressional outside Washington, D.C., to talk about his upcoming tournament there, the Quicken Loans National the week after the U.S. Open. Tiger says he's progressing well but didn't give a timetable for his return. He looked nowhere near ready after hitting three balls into the water on the short par-3 10th. It was rather sad honestly.
Spieth is a Dallas native, so he's playing this week; his first-ever PGA Tour event was here as an amateur at age 16. The defending champion is Steven Bowditch. The Aussie closed with a 64 and won by four shots for his second career title. He became the seventh player to lead all four rounds of the event. Bowditch now lives in Dallas, too, and was married at that resort. Par was altered to 69 last year because one par-4 hole was so drenched due to rain that it was shortened to a 100-yard par 3. I don't believe there's even been a par 69 before. I don't see Bowditch contending again as he has just one Top 25 this season in 15 events. He has missed eight cuts, including last week for the fifth straight event. He's +25000 at Bovada this week.
Golf Odds: AT&T Byron Nelson Favorites
To no surprise, Spieth is the +700 Bovada favorite, but he still hasn't been able to win a Tour event in Texas. He has been a runner-up three times in the Lone Star State. He hasn't played well here, either. Since a T16 back in 2010 as an amateur, he hasn't been better than 30th.
Dustin Johnson is +900. He struggled Sunday at the Players and finished 28th. But he has four Top-10 finishes here in six tries and has never missed the cut.
The rest of the favorites are Matt Kuchar (+1800), Sergio (+2000) and Charley Hoffman (+2200). Kuchar was T3 last week, his best result anywhere in more than a year. He has two Top 10s here but was 39th in 2015. Garcia won here in 2004. He last played here in 2011 and was 20th. Hoffman already has a win in Texas this year (San Antonio) and was a co-runner-up here last year. He did miss the cut last week.
PGA Tour Picks: AT&T Byron Nelson Expert Betting Predictions
For a Top 10, I don't like Spieth (-190) as he seems to press in Texas and I'm not sure his mind is right yet from Augusta. I do like Johnson (-150), Zach Johnson (+225) and Marc Leishman (+275).
Head-to-head, lean Dustin Johnson (-105) over Spieth (-125), Kuchar (-120) over Sergio (-110), Hoffman (-120) over Charl Schwartzel (-110), Zach Johnson (-115) over Louis Oosthuizen (-115), Leishman (-130) over Jason Dufner (even), and Ryan Palmer (-120) over Jimmy Walker (-110).
I'm going to split my money over two longer-shots this week in Leishman (+3300) and Palmer (+4000). Leishman missed the cut here last year but the three years before that was T3, T12 and T3. Palmer has made 12 straight cuts on Tour and was second here in 2011, ninth the next year and 10th in 2015.
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