It is hard enough handicapping a PGA Tour event when the stars are playing, but when the take the week off to prepare for a major championship, picking a winning can be doubly difficult. That was the case at last week’s Byron Nelson.
The tournament is a week before the PGA Championship, and the only golfer in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings was Brooks Koepka. It wasn’t a surprise that he was the overwhelming favorite at 7/1. The next closest was Hideki Matsuyama at 16/1.
While Koepka finished fourth, Matsuyama was a distant 23rd, and a first-time winner took the $1.4 million first prize. Sung Kang had played in 158 tour events and never won, but changed that this weekend, taking the Bryon Nelson by two strokes.
“Dream come true,” Kang said. “When I just started playing golf, I really dream about this, winning PGA TOUR event and it finally happened.”
Golfer Tyler Duncan was playing the second round of the Byron Nelson on Friday when he had an approach shot on the No. 13th hole. His shot got away from him and sailed towards the crowd.
It struck his wife, Maria, in the head. Fortunately his bride was not hurt. Duncan was, though, he suffered a bogey on the hole.
“I had a little mud on the ball, little unfortunate timing there and shot out to the right,” Duncan told the PGA Tour website. “Took a big bounce and hit her, I guess. I didn’t know until after the round. … I’m just happy she’s not hurt.”
Duncan was able to laugh about it later, posting to Twitter: “Men- don’t try this at home!”
No word on whether Maria was laughing, but we’re guessing the $267,810 her husband won took away a little of the pain.
Stricker Gets Major Championship
It took Steve Stricker his entire professional golfing career to win a major championship, so another day wasn’t going to matter to the 52-year-old. The PGA Tour Champions first major of the year, the Regions Tradition, was delayed by rain, and the golfers had to return on Monday to finish.
Stricker was the 13/2 favorite entering the week, and didn’t disappoint. The 2020 Ryder Cup captain came into the final round with a two-stroke lead and never relinquished it, winning by four strokes.
Stricker, who won 12 times on the PGA Tour, never won a major there, the closest he came was a second-place finish at the 1998 PGA Championship. He was emotional after claiming the senior tour major.
“This is special,” an emotional Stricker said. “Never was able to win one of these on the regular tour. It means a lot. You work hard, try to do the right things, work on my game, and come out here hoping to play well, hoping to win.”
Stricker has been splitting his time with the regular tour, and will be teeing it up at this week’s PGA Championship. If he plays in the Senior PGA Championship the week after, he’ll have played in three major championships in as many weeks.
Even though it wasn’t a Masters or US Open, Stricker was happy he won a major on the senior tour.
“It’s tough out here,” Stricker said. “These guys play well. I feel more pressure out here at times to perform than I do on the regular tour. I think that’s because I put a lot of expectations on myself out here. It’s hard. To finally get this one means a lot.”