American Brendon Todd used a bogey-free Sunday to fire 66 and post 14-under-par 266 to win the HP Byron Nelson Championship for his first-career win on TOUR. He defeated Canadian Mike Weir by two shots. Australian Marc Leishman and Yank Charles Howell III were two further shots behind in third place.
The HPBNC has crowned a first-time winner for the fourth time in the last five events on Lord Byron’s Manor, the TPC Four Seasons-Las Colinas. Brendon Todd joined Jason Day, Keegan Bradley and Sang-moon Bae as the first-timers who have raised the trophy at this prestigious event recently. There wasn’t much drama on Sunday as the former Georgia Bulldog went out in 32 to push the lead to 13-under and then came home in 34 to post his total of 14-under, 266. His lead for most of the backside hovered at three shots so there wasn’t any tangible pressure coming from the chase pack. The only pressure was putting his first victory and he was up to the test. He was tested on the two par threes on the back nine and he showed exactly what he was made of as he putted LEFT-HANDED from 60 feet on No. 13 to seven feet and made par. He followed that up with a 14-footer on No. 17 to keep a two-shot lead heading to the final hole. He wouldn’t need it as he made par on that hole as well!
Todd’s first victory came by one of the most traditional routes on TOUR: hit fairways and make putts. He led the week in both stats. He was also SIX-UNDER on the par-3s. If he had any nerves, I didn’t see any as he pulled driver on the final hole with plenty of water in play. For the week he only made THREE bogeys (led the field) and one double as his game was sharp as Bulldog teeth. Todd took advantage of the few greens he did hit by finishing T2 in putts per GIR on top of his No. 1 ranking in strokes gained-putting. When he wasn’t hitting greens, he was getting up-and-down from everywhere and that didn’t hurt either.
After opening with 68, this included a double bogey and a bogey, he fired 64-68-66 to close out the week. Those three rounds included exactly two bogeys. Most of the Georgia boys can bomb and gouge it but Todd was 71st in driving distance on the week. His accuracy off the tee and his excellent putting is the reason he broke through this week. He now joins Chris Kirk, Harris English, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Russell Henley as the boys on TOUR with connections to UGA. He is the only first-time winner of that bunch. All the rest of them have multiple victories. Will he join THAT club next?
The 28-year old started to show up on the radar late last summer as he was cranking out solid results on both the Web.com and PGA TOUR. Funnily enough, his “streak” started at this tournament last year when he finished T17. In his only other six starts on TOUR last year, he made five cuts and finished T18 or better in four of them. His last start, the Wyndham Championship, he was T26. That’s a pretty solid run without having full-time status! The Byron Nelson was his first start after his second victory in his career on the Web.com Tour as he won the Stadion Classic at UGA, his college home course. He played five more Web.com Tour events throughout the summer and had finishes of T19, T15, T15 and T2 in the Web.com Tour Championship that sealed his 2014 card.
This is not his rookie year on TOUR. Todd turned pro in 2007 but it was 2008 where he started to make waves. In 23 Web.com events he racked up 14 cuts which included 11 top 25s, seven top 10s and a victory at the Utah Championship. TOUR card in hand in 2009 saw him only make five cuts from 21 starts and a quick return to the Web.com Tour. Gamers, his only top 25 that season was T12 at FESJC where he closed with 65-68-66. Georgia players love that track!
2010 was an absolute disaster as he missed ALL 13 cuts he played in that season on the Web.com Tour. His 2011 wasn’t much better as he missed 14 of 24 events but he performed a complete 180-degree turn as he won Q-School (remember that?) that December to clinch his TOUR card 2.0. 2012 wasn’t much better as he MC 18 of 29 times but made just enough cash to stay inside the top 150 to gain limited status for 2013.
And then the dam broke open last summer and carried into the 2013-14 season last fall as he went four-for-four with three of those finishes falling inside the top 26. As 2014 began, he found himself in the final group with Patrick Reed at the Humana but tailed off for a T6 finish, his best on TOUR. He returned to the top 10 with T6 at Valero in late March but his form entering this week was hardly eye-opening. In his next three events after Valero, gamers lost track of him because of T43, T38 and MC.
Moving forward, Todd has shown he can play easy courses (Humana) and difficult courses (TPC Oaks, Las Colinas) but with all first-time winners, I’ll patiently wait to see how this affects him. Being on TOUR for the third time should help him adjust because everything isn’t “brand-new” to him. His game is super-steady as he currently sits 25th in the all-around category so that bodes well for season-long investors. His putter is the calling card as he ranks 11th in strokes gained and 28th in total putting. He makes plenty of birdies and is 21st in scoring average. He’s been quietly going about his business but now that he’s won his value will obviously increase in both weekly and season-long games.
With his victory, he collects $1,242,000, 500 FedExCup Points and a two-year exemption on TOUR. He also will play in the WGC-BI, the PGA Championship and the 2015 Masters.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 21 of 27 events in 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes and Brendon Todd have won for the USA.
Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed four victories along with South Korean Seung-yul Noh and German Martin Kaymer. Mike Weir tried to add the Maple Leaf flag to that group this week!
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones and now Todd are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had eight in 27 events so far in 2014. #onpace
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. I’m always trying to figure out if this is a trend or not. In 2013-14, 15 of 26 leaders have gone on to win on Sunday as Todd and Louis Oosthuizen were co-leaders. I’ll always give credit to the winner for winning in this stat. Hey, it’s my rule!
Tom Watson is the only player to defend his title at HPBNC. He did it twice as he won three straight from 1978-1980.
Paul Casey tied the TOUR record with 27 on the back nine on Friday. He went on to finish T16.
With the lack of Texas wind this week, Todd joins Rory Sabbatini (2009) and Sang-moon Bae (last year) as the only players to win with all four rounds in the 60s. There were EIGHT players who played all four rounds in the 60s this week!
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson remain the only players on TOUR with multiple wins this season.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, flew the flag before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Since the first major, Matt Kuchar (37) and J.B. Holmes (32) have also added to the Prime Timers.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer (29) and now Brendon Todd, 28, to the twenty-something party!
Australian John Senden, 42, won at Tampa Bay for the only W for the “Old Guys” this season. Canadian Mike Weir, 44, was second. When he briefly led on Sunday, this was the first time since 2007 that he had been in the lead on TOUR. #timeflies
What I learned from the finishers in the top 10
Mike Weir: The 44-year-old Canadian and 2003 Masters champion has battled injury after elbow injury and it was great to see him give it a run this week. Before the week started the Canadian that was on everyone’s mind was Graham DeLaet but the “oldie” struck it great and putted like it was 2003 en route to his first top 10 since 2010. Gamers, be careful moving forward. Weir was near the bottom of both fairways and greens hit but was second to Todd in strokes gained-putting and first in putts per GIR. Gamers, be careful moving forward as this was only his seventh weekend in 19 starts this season. Gamers be careful moving forward as he has MC in 11 of 15 events in calendar 2014. His other three finishes are T56, T44 and T57. I’m left handed and I love Canada but I have play with my wallet, not my heart. It was his first top 10 in 12 starts at HPBNC.
Charles Howell III: The ATM keeps spitting out straight cash money for his season-long investors. There’s a reason he should be in EVERY salary cap game, folks! He’s now hit the top 10 six times in 19 starts this season and his T3 is his best finish since his P2 last season at Humana (Brian Gay won). He’s made 16 of 19 and has eight top 25s as well. #cha-ching
Marc Leishman: Nice job, Glass. Way to over-think it! The Aussie adds T3 this week to T8, T12, MC, T3 and T12 over the last five years. I went with Gary Woodland in Group 2 and in Yahoo! and he burned me this afternoon after starting one shot off the lead. Leishman is AUTO-MATIC on this track next year and should have serious OAD consideration. He’s already AUTO-MATIC in the TOAD games! In SIX EVENTS at Las Colinas he has posted THREE ROUNDS over par. I’M YELLING BECAUSE I’M TIRED OF BEING STUPID.
Boo Weekley: Heading into this week he posted a nasty string of rounds at Las Colinas, 73-74-75-76 but this week he broke that streak with four rounds in the 60s. Weekley is the defending champion next week at Colonial and his T5 this week is his best finish on TOUR since that victory last season. Entering this week he MC in three of his last five and the other results were T53 and T29 so he was a week early for most gamers! He’ll be in the CHALK column next week in Fort Worth!
James Hahn: We used to have a “regular” on the Wednesday chat asking about what we think/thought about James Hahn. Well, I hope he comes back next week to gloat a bit! Hahn, the former shoe salesman, is more famous for his Gangham Style dance at Scottsdale than he is for his golf game. He’s trying to change that perception and gamers should take note. He costs himself quite a few bucks with a short miss on the final hole but he was super-steady this week from tee to the bottom of the cup. He was T20 in fairways, T17 GIR, and was top 16 in both putting categories to achieve his best finish since the 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach where he was T3. There was a reason gamers didn’t pay attention this week. In 14 events in calendar 2014 Hahn had one top 25 (T16, Valero) to show for his effort. He also MC in his last three events heading into this week. Gamers have seen the flash before but now they want some consistency. This is his best non-West Coast finish so maybe it’s a start!
Dustin Johnson: The good news was he was on my Yahoo! squad this week as I fancied him playing well. The bad news was I forgot to put him into the lineup. The good news is that…OH SHUT UP. Johnson has now hit the top 10 in Irving for the third time in six starts. He’s the No. 1 player in the all-around category so this should hardly be a surprise. He would have been putting pressure on the leaders if not for a double on Saturday AND Sunday that kept him at bay. He racked up 19 birdies and an eagle to finish T7. He’s getting ready to pop again people!
Matt Kuchar: The good news was I had him in my lineup every day except today, when he went the lowest because I needed to put Woodland in for the possible bonus points. Whatever. I’ve never guessed right and I’m never going to guess right. If I DIDN’T have this pain each Sunday night I would be wondering what was wrong. He’s posted nine top 10s in 13 starts. Gamers should be out of starts on him by the U.S. Open. #strikewhiletheironishot
Graham DeLaet: Just two shots off heading into Sunday the “other” Canadian was looking to join the trend of first-timers at Las Colinas. Every week he leads the TOUR in fairways and greens but at some point, the putter has to start heating up. He only made a handful of bogeys at Zurich and finished T29. This week, he only made five as well but three of them were on Sunday afternoon in his first 11 holes. His two birdies in his final five holes saw him claw back into the top 10 (T7) for the first time since T8 at Valspar (Innisbrook). I mentioned Innisbrook in the preview. Weekley was second there in 2013. CH III was T14 this year. Gary Woodland…
Gary Woodland: He won at Innisbrook in 2011 and was T8 this year. I was high on Woodland this week because he was THIS close so many times but was bitten by the one, BIG round each time at Las Colinas. This week it was a BIG round, but it was a 71 on Sunday when he began the day just one shot back. Heading into Sunday he had carded just two bogeys and a double and was in prime position to pounce. He made a monster on No. 1 and No. 18 to bookend a rather unspectacular 16 holes that he played in four-OVER-par. This was No. 13 in a row that he’s played the weekend. This was the fourth start in a row where he improved from the following week. Group A was a monster this week and I screwed it all up. Again.
John Senden: T11; Won at Innisbrook in March. #justsayin’
What happened to my pre-tournament favorites?
Keegan Bradley: With three bogeys in his last eight holes, Bradley killed gamers hopes on a top 10. DOESN’T THAT SOUND FAMILIAR IN 2014? After his MC at the Masters he was T8 at Zurich with a clunky Sunday, MC at THE PLAYERS and T29 this week. In four events at Las Colinas, Mr. Automatic has finished WIN, T24, second and now T29. I guess he should be third next year followed by T34 in 2016. #pattern
Matt Kuchar: T7, see above.
Jordan Spieth: This was his worst finishing when making the cut since last year’s Open Championship (T44). In 17 of his last 19 he’s hit the top 20. I now have Spieth’s worst finish and McIlroy’s worst finish on my OAD scorecard this year. That’s amazing. Good grief. He played three of four rounds at par or better so it’s not like he’s slumping!
Jimmy Walker: An ice-cold putter led to only 12 birdies and 54 pars. He only had three bogeys but squeezed a pair of doubles that never let him get going. His T37 is his worst finish since his T46 at the WGC-HSBC Champions last November, a span of 14 events.
Marc Leishman: T3, see above.
Martin Kaymer: THE PLAYERS champ was playing on adrenalin after his $1.8 million pay day last week. He opened with 67-67 and was lurking entering the weekend. It’s not surprising he ran out of gas with 71-72 to drop from T15 on Sunday to T29. He made 11 of his 13 bogeys on Saturday and Sunday. #emptytank
Charl Schwartzel: His opening round 73 dug him too deep of a hole to catch up and continues his theme for 2014: one bad round each week. He followed with a trio of 67s that would have secured at top five if not for that pesky Thursday round. His bogey on the final hole knocked him out of a top 10. This was an impressive cash as he was just T40 GIR and T21 in putts per GIR. He only made four bogeys in that run of 67s. He’s now T3 and T11 in his only two starts at Las Colinas. #horseforcourse
Jason Dufner: After a secondary cut on Saturday, 74 players teed it up on Sunday. Dufner was 73rd in strokes gained-putting and 67th in putts per GIR. Dufner was fourth in GIR so his iron game is tuned in but at some point putts must be holed!
Gary Woodland: T7, see above.
Dustin Johnson: T7, see above.
Ryan Palmer: His 67-68 had gamers licking their chops heading into the weekend but 71-70 knocked him to T22 for the week. In his last four at Las Colinas he’s finished second, T9, T33 and T22. Yes, please.
John Senden: T11, see above.
Ryan Moore: He made nine bogeys in 36 holes to offset seven birdies to MC by one. He’s missed three of four in his career and his only make he lost a playoff to Adam Scott in 2008.
Harris English: After opening with 64 in his maiden voyage last year, English has played four of his last five rounds at par or worse at Las Colinas. He’s now missed three of his last four weekends since the Masters. It might be time for a break before he defends at FESJC in Memphis in June.
Sang-moon Bae: That’s now four MCs in his last seven and nothing better than T34 for the South Korean.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the Colonial (CPIC) and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (https://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (https://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.