Feature - HP Byron Nelson Championship Preview

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Nelson 1 Dufner 

 

Let’s Go Dufnering

Jason Dufner looks to defend his title, and take some ribbing, at this year’s HP Byron Nelson Championship

 

Six of the top 20 players in the world, including defending champion Jason Dufner, will tee it up at the 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship May 13-19 at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas in Irving.

Dufner, who sank his par putt at the finishing hole to beat Dicky Pride by one shot at last year’s event, will defend his title against Tour superstars Louis Oosthuizen (No. 7 in the Official World Golf Rankings); Matt Kuchar (No. 10); Keegan Bradley (No. 13); Charl Schwartzel (No. 16) and Dustin Johnson (No. 19), as well as past Byron Nelson champions Jason Day, Rory Sabbatini, Vijay Singh and Scott Verplank, and others. That’s a pretty stout field, and there are other attractive names coming to Dallas in mid-May.

Jordan Spieth, who fascinated everyone in 2010 when he made the cut and was in contention in the third round as a high school junior, will return to the Nelson this year – this time as a professional. To one player in the field, though, the 19-year-old Spieth will look like an older brother.

That player is Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old prodigy who stunned the golf world with his play at this year’s Masters. Guan received a sponsor’s exemption to this year’s Nelson. If he plays like he did at Augusta and at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, he’ll have a busy weekend in Irving.

“What Guan has been able to accomplish at such a young age is very impressive,” said 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship Tournament Chairman Mike McKinley. “We have always had a tradition of identifying young talent and giving them an opportunity to compete at the Nelson, and we look forward to continuing that with Guan.”

Also committing is Martin Kaymer, who won the PGA Championship in 2010, and will be making his Dallas debut. Brian Gay and D.A. Points, both PGA Tour winners in 2013, are in the field along with J.J. Henry, Marc Leishman and Scott Stallings, who all won a PGA Tour event last year.

“We’re still anxious to hear from a few other guys, including those who have won recently,” McKinley said. “We’re hoping to get a few more commitments in the next couple of weeks. They technically have until the Friday before the tournament to commit. A lot of them wait until the last minute to do that.”

Besides Spieth and Henry, there definitely will be a local flair at this year’s Nelson. Those who call, or once called, the Metroplex home and in the Nelson field include Chad Campbell, Greg Chalmers, Martin Flores, Hunter Haas, Paul Haley II, John Huh, Brandt Jobe, Colt Knost, Hank Kuehne, Justin Leonard, Ryan Palmer, Tag Ridings, John Rollins and John Senden.

“We have a lot of great Touring pros who call this area home,” McKinley said. “They bring out big galleries and have a lot of followers.

“Not only is it the younger guys – like Ryan Palmer and Colt Knost – who bring out the crowds, the older guys from here also have big galleries.”

Dufner had quite a run in April and May, highlighted by his wins in New Orleans and at the Nelson. He also finished runner-up to Zach Johnson the week after the Nelson at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, and used that successful run to help earn him a spot on the United States Ryder Cup team and $4.8 million in earnings for 2012.

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