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Shotgun Start: Previewing the HP Byron Nelson Championship

Jonathan Wall
Devil Ball Golf

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The 18th hole at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas / Getty Images

It's tournament time! The Lonestar State takes center stage for the next couple of weeks, as the PGA Tour does the Texas two-step through Dallas and Fort Worth. We kick things off at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Here's a tournament primer to get you prepared for the week.

The course: TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas is a Jekyll and Hyde golf course. At 7,166 yards, the par-70 layout isn't long by PGA Tour standards, but when the wind kicks up -- as it did last year -- it can turn the track into an absolute beast. If you want to know why the wind plays such a major role, just look at the layout. A number of holes have significant elevation changes; and the lack of trees makes it impossible to hide from the elements. High winds in excess of 22 mph are expected on Friday and Saturday, which should put a premium on going low during Thursday's opening round. With the exception of PGA National, TPC Four Seasons was the second-most difficult (non-major) course on tour last year, playing to a stroke average of +2.354 shots over par. If there are two holes on the course that could make or break a good round this week, it's the par-4 third and par-4 15th. At 524 and 508 yards, they can almost play like par-5s on a windy day. Both were ranked as two of the most difficult holes on tour last year -- third hole (No. 13); 15th hole (No. 7) -- so you need to bring your A-game when you step on the tee box.

The schedule: The tournament runs Thursday-Sunday. It'll be broadcast on the Golf Channel from 3 to 6 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday; and on CBS from 3 to 6 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday

The field: Phil Mickelson makes his first HP Byron Nelson Championship start in five years and is easily the biggest name in the field. But he's not the only star showing up this year. Matt Kuchar, Carl Pettersson, Keegan Bradley (defending champion), Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Day and Adam Scott give the tournament its strongest field in years.

The video: Check out some of the memorable moments from the HP Byron Nelson Championship's history.

Your turn. Who are your picks for this week? Swing away!

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