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Byron Nelson Championship Preview: Texas Two-Step

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Overrated or underrated? It's the kind of topic that drives the need for so many 24-hour sports channels. In some cases, the discussion is short because the answer is simple. In Martin Kaymer's case, it's a little more complicated. The year was 2010, and although hard-core golf fans were well aware of Kaymer's ability, he was a mystery to the average fan. In other words, he was largely underrated when he captured the 2010 PGA Championship.

Winning a major has a strange effect on public perception, though. It turns the underrated player to overrated, seemingly overnight. Just ask, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and so on. The minute a player wins a major, expectations go through the roof. Anything less than the level of play that won said major and that player is suddenly overrated. He's the same player, possibly playing at the same level, but he has a major on his resume now, so that same-old, same-old doesn't cut it anymore. The pressure builds and some players thrive, while others crumble.

Kaymer was in crumble mode for nearly three years until last weekend where one win suddenly thrust him back into the spotlight. The problem for Kaymer now is that he's back to square one. He's been overrated the last three years, and now he's set the bar extremely high once again. Not exactly a bad problem to have, though. While we worry how to classify Kaymer, he's on his way to the bank with his $1.8 million check. Ah, but money is overrated.

This week:
Byron Nelson Championship - TPC Four Seasons Resort, Irving, Texas

Last Year:
Sang-Moon Bae shot a final-round 69 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Keegan Bradley.

Players to Consider:

Keegan Bradley

Bradley hasn't exactly lived up to the high expectations that were thrust upon him after his PGA Championship win a few years back, but he's played well enough to stay in the mix in several places. This is one of those places as he's not only won here, but he finished runner-up here last year as well.

Jordan Spieth

Spieth likely will be on this list for the foreseeable future. Sure, he fell flat in the final round last week and failed to come through in another big spot, but he's young - let's not forget just how young. Spieth will have no trouble putting his final-round misfortunes behind him this week.

Marc Leishman

Leishman hasn't quite taken off like many thought he would after a solid run last year, but no matter the state of his game, he usually manages to play well here. Leishman has finished outside the top 15 just once in five starts here. His upside may be limited, but he's almost guaranteed to finish in the top 15 again this year.

D.A. Points

Points is really struggling this season, but a return trip to the TPC Four Seasons Resort might be just what the doctor ordered. Points has finished inside the top 20 here in four of his last five starts. He's certainly a risky pick this week, but sometimes those picks pay off big.

Jimmy Walker

There are a couple players having really good years, mainly Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth, yet Jimmy Walker remains atop the Fed Ex standings. How does he do it? Well, for starters, he's in the mix almost every week. He may not be atop the leaderboard heading into the final round, but he's usually near the top 5 come Sunday afternoon.

Players to Avoid:

Sang-Moon Bae

This will be Bae's first title defense on the PGA Tour. That's quite a daunting task for anyone not named Woods, and I don't expect Bae to succeed where so many of his peers have failed over the years.

Brandt Snedeker

Snedeker enters this week's action ranked 106th in the FedEx Cup standings. While there are plenty of guys on the PGA Tour who would love to be in that spot, Snedeker is not one. He's simply just not the player he was early in the 2013 season and until that golfer shows up again, he's not worth a look.

Tommy Gainey

"Two gloves" has made a habit out of playing just two rounds at the Byron Nelson over the years. Gainey has missed the cut in three of his four starts here and managed only a T73 the one time he made the cut.

Patrick Reed

I was among those that thought Reed's comments earlier this year would be detrimental to his performance, but I didn't think he'd sink this fast. In five starts post-comments, he's earned no better than a T48.

Scott Stallings

Some take it to the next level after a win and some go the opposite direction. Stallings belongs in the latter group as his game has fallen apart since his win in late January. Stallings has missed the cut in six of his last seven events, and he only managed a T65 after making the cut last week.


Last week:
Matt Kuchar (T17) - $135,333; Season - $2,779,597

This week:
Keegan Bradley - Considering Bradley's play at the big events lately, he's no longer a strong option during the majors of the WGC events. He is, however, a great play this week as it's not a top-tier event, but it's close, and he's always ready to play here.


Rank: 17,815

This Week:

Group A:
Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland

Group B:
Jordan Spieth, Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner

Group C:
Jimmy Walker, Ryo Ishikawa


Last week:
Matt Kuchar; Streak - 1

This week:
Keegan Bradley - Doubling up again this week as Bradley is not only a great one-and-done option, but he's one of the better survivor options as well this week.