Between the thunderstorms and deluge of rain, the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial somehow managed to finish without a single round carrying into the next day. The final stretch was even capped by sunshine.
The AT&T Byron Nelson will need similar luck this week.
By 1 p.m. Monday, the horns were sounding across the TPC Four Seasons course at Las Colinas, where tournament play begins Thursday. The bad weather — rounds of thunderstorms that postponed the tournament’s annual junior golf clinic to 4 p.m. Tuesday — was likely just the beginning.
Wednesday could be calm, but forecasts call for a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms on Tuesday and Thursday, a 50 percent chance on Friday and a 60 percent chance on Saturday. And inbetween horn-triggering weather, wind gusts are expected up to 25 mph throughout the week.
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Huddled under an awning near the clubhouse Monday, Tour pro and Dallas native Harrison Frazar held a pack of irons and waited out the first delay.
“I think we ended five years of drought in five weeks,” Frazar said. “Everything’s wet, everything’s water-logged, everybody’s a little bit frustrated. That’s just part of it; we make our living outdoors.”
Frazar, in particular, is hoping for a hitch-free week. His first PGA Tour start was at the Nelson in 1997, and he’s been a fixture at the event ever since. He helps run the annual junior clinic, which is free, open to the public and will feature Jordan Spieth.
“This tournament is very special,” said Frazar, a Highland Park High School and University of Texas alum. “A lot of these guys [running the tournament] are my friends. We live in the same community. And getting a chance to play in front my family and my kids — and help these guys out — is always important to me.”
Frazar, who lives near SMU, will be driving from home this week as he did for Colonial, where he tied for 74th at 2-over through three rounds. His game isn’t as sharp as he wants it to be — his last and only victory came in 2011 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. But at Colonial, he opened with a 2-under 68 and held on to make the cut.
“It’s rusty,” Frazar said. “Just not quite sharp enough to really shoot a good round. I managed to make the cut last week because I scrambled pretty well, which is different, but that happens sometimes.”
On the opposite end of Nelson experience is Tom Hoge, a 2011 TCU graduate making his tournament debut this week.
Hoge, who earned his PGA Tour card at the end of last year’s Web.com Tour schedule, has made seven of 15 cuts this season, most recently a tie for 65th at the Shell Houston Open. He tied for 32nd at the McGladrey Classic in October for his best finish.
At the Nelson, he feels comfortable, even if he’s only played the course a handful of times.
“It’s great to be able to stay at home in Fort Worth and drive to and from the tournament,” Hoge said. “All of the great winners have come through here, and it’s a great golf course. Hopefully, it’ll be dry enough this week to get out there.”
Kevin Kisner was among the players who withdrew Monday. That opened a spot for a few alternates, including 2003 British Open champion Ben Curtis.
Austin Connelly, an 18-year-old Irving resident, joined the field as a sponsor’s exemption. The Arkansas signee earned a spot when Will Zalatoris withdrew due to medical problems.
Brendon Todd won last year’s Nelson by two strokes, shooting a 4-under 66 in the final round for his first PGA Tour victory. He’ll try to become the first back-to-back winner of the event since Tom Watson won three in a row from 1978-1980.
And if Todd does defend his title, it’ll be another victory for a University of Georgia graduate after Chris Kirk won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on Sunday.
Last year, former Georgia players Todd, Kirk, Bubba Watson, Russell Henley, Harris English and Brian Harman were all winners on tour.
▪ Spieth’s best finish at the Nelson was his first, when tied for 16th as a 16-year-old in 2010. He’s tied for 32nd, 68th and 37th in the years since, skipping the event in 2012.
▪ Kirk isn’t in the field this week — he’s closing on a house in Athens, Ga.
▪ Twelve of the top 30 FedExCup points leaders are playing this week: Spieth (1), Jimmy Walker (2), Charley Hoffman (7), Dustin Johnson (8), Brandt Snedeker (9), Jason Day (13), Sang-Moon Bae (19), Gary Woodland (20), Brooks Koepka (24), Daniel Berger (26), Matt Kuchar (29) and Brendon de Jonge (30).
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760
AT&T Byron Nelson
Thursday-Sunday, TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas
(Par 70, 7,166 yards), Irving
Purse: $7.1 million
Winner’s share: $1,278,000
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