Don't look now, but there's another major championship just around the corner next week with the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. But first, PGA Tour players will have a final opportunity to get their games ready for Bethpage at Trinity Forest and the AT&T Byron Nelson. There are (maybe surprisingly) several big names (and one oversized non-golf name) to watch for in Big D this weekend.
Let's take a look at this week's contest.
What: Byron Nelson | When: May 9-12
Where: Trinity Forest -- Dallas, Texas
Ranking the field (odds)
- Brooks Koepka (13/2): He's the auto-favorite in a tournament like this with a field this weak.
- Marc Leishman (25-1): All the data we have for him at Trinity Forest (like the 61 he shot last year en route to finishing as a runner up) says he's going to have another awesome week.
- Hideki Matsuyama (16-1): It's true that he hasn't won in nearly two years, but it's equally true that he hasn't missed a cut since last year's Open and only needs to putt average to below average to be in it.
- Sungjae Im (40-1): Oh you were expecting Jordan Spieth?
- Jordan Spieth (18-1): This is his ninth appearance, and still his best finish came as a 16-year-old in 2010 when he went into the final round hovering near the lead and shot 2 over to finish T16.
- Aaron Wise (20-1): Top 20s at the Masters and Quail Hollow, and he's the defending champ.
- Patrick Reed (30-1): He's found it a little bit after hitting reset with David Leadbetter. Opened 67-69 last week before a late fade.
- Keith Mitchell (30-1): He finished top 10 here last year after dropping a nasty little 63 in Round 4.
- Henrik Stenson (20-1): After a tough start to the year, Stenson hasn't missed a cut since the Players. This will be his first time at Trinity, but he's one of the bigger talents in attendance.
- Rory Sabbatini (40-1): Not the Rory I most expect to win in the next two weeks, but Sabbatini finished top 10 here last year and has three top 20s in his last five tournaments.
Field strength -- C: Spieth and Koepka have more majors than everybody with 200-1 odds or better ... combined. Granted, Spieth and Koepka have a lot of majors.
Three things to know
1. Tony Romo is 10,000-1 to win: The former Cowboys QB is teeing it up for the first time in a non-opposite field event this week. He won't contend and won't even make the cut, but that doesn't mean he's there to play games.
"Well, this is what I want to do," Romo told ESPN. "This is my livelihood. I think it's the same as anything. You have to show you have the ability. You don't just get [sponsor exemptions] randomly. You've got to be able to perform at some time in front of somebody who thinks you deserve it. I've been practicing ... and I practice really hard at it, just like a touring pro. Same type of schedule. Mornings you get up, it's a routine, just like you're playing football. I understand you only get so many [exemptions], so you've got to perform. Hopefully that time is coming."
2. Win and you're in: This weekend's winner has a chance to qualify for the PGA Championship as well. Bronson Burgoon is hoping for a 10-stroke Brooks Koepka win.
PGA saving one spot for Byron Nelson winner if not already eligible. Bronson Burgoon is the first alternate.— Doug Ferguson (@dougferguson405) May 6, 2019
3. Koepka's strength: The only player ranked in the OWGR top 15 this week is Koepka. The next highest in world ranking is Patrick Reed at No. 19. While the world rankings aren't everything, No. 3 Koepka is a lot better than everybody else in this field (other than maybe Spieth). Will he show it? He's noted that his mind and his game have wandered at times, and he'll surely be thinking about another PGA next week at Bethpage, but he should, at the very least, contend for this tournament before heading out on Sunday.
- 2018: Aaron Wise
- 2017: Billy Horschel
- 2016: Sergio Garcia
- 2015: Steven Bowditch
- 2014: Brendon Todd
Byron Nelson picks
Winner: Hideki Matsuyama (16-1) -- Can Hideki Win? Of course. "Will he" is an entirely different question, but I think the answer for the first time in 22 months is "yes."
Top 10: Marc Leishman (25-1) -- Awesome run to start the year with multiple top 10s but hasn't had as much success at stroke-play events of late. I think he finds it this week at a place he crushed at last year.
Sleeper: Hank Lebioda (175-1) -- I love ball-strikers here, and Lebioda is one who flies under the radar. He's top 40 from tee to green, and is coming off a strong week at the Zurich Classic with Curtis Luck.