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If winds are low, expect scores to be even lower at TPC Craig Ranch for PGA Tour's AT&T Byron Nelson

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MCKINNEY, Texas — The PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson makes its first-ever appearance at TPC Craig Ranch this week, meaning the majority of the field will be seeing the Tom Weiskopf design for the first time.

But Texas native Ryan Palmer didn’t have to think long about his best memory of the course.

“I think I still own the course record here, either 60 or 61 from the back tees about 10 years ago,” said Palmer. “There are a few holes that the PGA Tour will alter to make it tougher for the pros, but they’re pretty good at that.”

While it’s still too early to tell if the par-72 layout — which roams through an affluent North Texas housing development — will yield those kinds of scores, the local players who have teed it up here in the past have already issued the red alert for the coming attack on par.

“I do think you will see a lot of low scores there, if you can hit your ball a lot of places and score,” said local Tour golfer John Senden. “A lot is depending on the wind, but with the houses being built there and apartments, along with the trees, it will block some of the wind and drive the scores lower.”

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The winning score at the last two AT&T Byron Nelson tournaments, held an hour south at Trinity Forest Golf Club, was 23-under by both Sung Kang and Aaron Wise.

This week the course is being converted from a par 71 to 72, same as when it hosted two previous Korn Ferry Tour events.

“The thing is we don’t play a lot of Zoysia grass fairways on the Tour,” said Will Zalatoris, another local player who estimates he has played at TPC Craig Ranch hundreds of times as a junior golfer. “That means you can aim at the flag more and around the greens, you can spin the ears off the golf ball. More than you can when playing those grainy Bermuda fairways.”

Another feature the 2021 Masters runner-up says players will notice is the tempting par-4 14th hole, which can be easily driven my most pros at 330 yards from the back tees but brings water into play all along the left side of the fairway up to the edge of the green.

“I can remember playing in a junior tournament here one time with Scottie Scheffler and we both drove the green on the 14th hole,” said Zalatoris. “It was like, wow, we didn’t drive the green much back then on a par 4 hole.

“I really all depends on the wind this week,” Zalatoris added. “If it blows, it can be tough, I was playing in Q-School one year and shot 72 and moved up about 16 spots.”

The forecast is warm temperatures and clear skies with low wind when the players tee off in the $8.1 million event, where $1.5 million will go to the winner.

Jordan Spieth also has memories at TPC Craig Ranch, just not very good ones. His last competitive round here came when he failed to advance in the second stage of Q-School in November 2012, leaving him without a place to play before his historic 2013 rookie season.

During his four days playing at Craig Ranch, he made 14 bogeys and one eagle, but counterbalanced that with 8 bogeys and a balky putter.

“I think the longest putt I made was about a foot and a half,” he recalled.

PGA Tour COVID-19 regulations have limited the crowd to just 12,500 fans this week, leaving tournament director Jon Drago in a unique situation.

“I’ve have to say no to a lot of people who want out to come which I never like to do,” Drago said.

Both those who are here in person or watch on TV should see a full Code Red when it comes to lower scores and aggressive golf at the longtime Tour event in North Texas.

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original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/05/11/pga-tour-att-byron-nelson-tpc-craig-ranch/

2021 AT&T Byron Nelson picks, field grade, odds, best bets, predictions at TPC Craig Ranch

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