The PGA TOUR headed deep into the “Heart of Texas” this week for the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, located about 35 miles north of Dallas. The 18-hole TPC Craig Ranch is a private golf course that opened in 2004. Designed by Tom Weiskopf, the course measures 7438 yards and features the beautiful, gently rolling hills and mature woods surrounding the limestone banks of Rowlett Creek. It has consistently been rated one of the most challenging, and exciting courses to play in Texas.
Once again the PGA Tour’s final round Sunday had some new names at the top of the Leaderboard. Tied for first (223) Zecheng Dou -16, (210) Austin Eckroat -16, (204) Ryan Palmer -16. Tied for fourth (35) Jason Day -14, (42) Si Woo Kim -14 (354) Vincent Norrman -14, (2) Scottie Scheffler -14.
The final round got underway with split tees and threesomes due to potential afternoon thunderstorms in the area. The last group was Dou -16, Eckroat -16, and Palmer -16. Earlier tee time groups had slowly worked their way up the leaderboard but only Norrman had moved out of the top groupings.
Both Dou -17 and Eckroat -17 birdied the 1st hole. Scheffler -15 birdied the 3rd hole. Ryan Palmer -15 bogeyed the 2nd hole. Jason Day -15 buried the 3rd hole. Throughout the remainder of the front nine, the top seven players played musical chairs on the leaderboard with a few surprises.
This was the leaderboard when the last group headed to the back nine – (1) Dou -19, (2) Scheffler -18, Eckroat -18. Day -18, S.W. Kim -18, Norrmam -18. (7) Stephan Yeager -17, Adam Scott -17 C.T. Pan -17 (6 Birdies front nine), Palmer -17. With the weather cooperating and preferred lies in the fairways, the Craig Ranch Course continued to be assaulted today by golfers on every hole.
Here’s a look at the leaderboard when the final group reached the 16th tee. (1) Day -22, (2) CT Pan -21 (Leader in the Clubhouse). (3) Scheffler -20, Kim -20, Eckroat -20. The final leaderboard had Jason Day -22 the winner of the 2023 Byron Nelson Classic. Jason Day has gone 1,834 days since his last PGA Tour victory.
Jason Day received 500 FedEx Cup points and a $1,710,000 share of the 9.5-million-dollar purse, which is the highest purse of any non-designated event this season. This is his 15th year in the PGA with 13 career wins. He also won the Byron Nelson Classic in 2010. It was his 1st PGA Championship win. This is his first win in the 2022-2023 season to go along with six top 10 finishes. He currently 35th in the Official World Golf Rankings and 32nd in the FedEx standings. Second place $1,035,500 and 3rd place $655,500 money will be split between Austin Eckroat -22 and S.W. Kim -22 and 4th place $465,500 will go to C.T. Pan -21.
CBS Golf Reporter Amanda Renner asked Jason what it feels like to win the very first time on the PGA Tour at this tournament and now 13 years later winning again.
“It’s been a struggle for a few years and to be able to go, I mean five years actually, since my last win so to be able to get the win the way I played today was really special,” said Day, who had many family and friends in gther gallery since he is a Dallas resident. “So I mean I’m very pleased and happy with how things have progressed over the last couple of years for me,”
The TPC Craig Ranch Course appeared to be dealing with some major problems with the grass around the collars on some of the greens that required large patches of sod to be place around them. This seemed to change the way players approach either a chip shot or putt due to the inconsistency of the seams between the pieces of sod.
The 2023 Byron Nelson Classic, Golf Course Superintendent Association of America (GCSAA), Tournament Fact Sheet noted that a cool/dry spring has led to many issues with grass breaking dormancy. The turf density will not be what it was in past years. Winter storm caused damage on greens collars and low-lying fairway areas which required sodding.
The course, in operation since 2004, is entering its third year as host of the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson Classic. “We have a great Tom Weiskopf course, great conditions and a great layout which is so fun to play for Tour players along with members and guests,” said course namesake, local developer David Craig.
Golfweek has reported that AT&T has asked the PGA Tour to end its sponsorship starting next year. Only four of the top 25 world rank players entered the competition with most taking the week off with the PGA Championship scheduled next week at Oak Hill in Rochester (NY).
Not so sure about the “great conditions” taking into account what the TV viewing audience, spectators and players were looking at during this year’s tournament. The TPC Craig Ranch website clearly states; “As part of the TPC Network you can be sure that playing conditions at TPC Craig Ranch are maintained to PGA TOUR-quality standards year-round.” Wonder if this standard applies to all PGA tournaments consistently throughout the year.