Redesign gives EDS Byron Nelson a new life

Redesign gives EDS Byron Nelson a new life

The renovations on the 18th at TPC Four Seasons Resort include a rushing, 170-yard-long water hazard.
Fred Vuich/SI

Adam Scott is the only top-10 player in the World Ranking at this week's EDS Byron Nelson Championship, but that might just mean he's the only smart one so far.

A major course redesign at the TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas is prompting players to see the tournament in a new light. Even the game's best player, who is not even in the field, sounds intrigued, if a cryptic message delivered by D.A. Weibring is to be believed.

"I got feedback this morning through the Tiger Woods camp," said Weibring, who headed up the course changes. "And he likes the fact that it seems to be the players think it's a little tougher. Tiger likes that."

It's unclear if Weibring had tongue firmly in cheek, or whether Tiger or Phil Mickelson, for that matter, will ever play the Nelson again. But in the meantime, the men who are in the field have been pleasantly surprised.

"This year we have green grass on the greens," said Ted Purdy, who won the event in 2005. "The greens are perfect. There's obviously been no play on it, so there's not a single ball mark. They're firm. In previous years it's been kind of a dart-shoot with kind of wet, muddy greens. The scores will be much higher this year."

Several promising 20-somethings highlight the field, led by Scott, Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Sergio Garcia, Sean O'Hair, Anthony Kim, Kevin Na, Hunter Mahan and Jason Day. Rory Sabbatini and the perpetual wildcard John Daly also stand out on the field list.

Even more intriguing than that group of young guns is how players plan on attacking the new 18th hole. It used to be so short that Purdy hugged his caddie as if he'd already won after merely finding the fairway with his drive on Sunday in 2005. He knew he would have only 100 yards in.

"Yesterday I had 190 yards to the pin," Purdy said. "It's a much tighter fairway. You know, anything can happen, especially with that water pushed up next to the green, double bogey is in play for anybody. If they hit that second shot a little short and left, it's in the water. You didn't have that kind of threat on the last hole on Sunday coming down the stretch at the Byron Nelson."

One enterprising Brit in the field this week, Kenneth Ferrie, has figured out that there seems to be no penalty for driving it away from the fairway and left of the water hazard on the new-and-improved 18th. Taking that shortcut takes the lake out of play. No one's ever intentionally played the hole from over there during the tournament, but with the newly pinched fairway it's an appealing option, and there seems to be no out of bounds to prevent it. As Weibring might say, Tiger likes that.

Will tournament officials figure it out in time for an 11th-hour posting of white stakes? Tune in to find out.

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