Golf

Defending Nelson champ Brendon Todd seeks to join elite company

Lazy Day With Jason Dufner

Tuesday's are usually the lazy day on the PGA Tour. But there's little laziness going on at the practice range, where pros and caddies are looking to fine tune games going into Thursday's opening round. Jason Dufner spent time on the Trackman prod
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Tuesday's are usually the lazy day on the PGA Tour. But there's little laziness going on at the practice range, where pros and caddies are looking to fine tune games going into Thursday's opening round. Jason Dufner spent time on the Trackman prod

Brendon Todd is looking to join some of golf’s elite this week at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

The reigning champion hopes to become only the fourth player in the tournament’s history to defend his title.

The company he’d join? Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

Three Hall of Famers who combined for 194 PGA Tour victories throughout their illustrious careers.

“It’s very difficult to repeat on tour,” Todd said. “To join the names of Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead and Tom Watson would be pretty special so that would be a huge accomplishment for me. I feel good coming into the week. I feel like my game has been pretty solid this year.”

Watson is the the most recent player to win the Nelson in consecutive years, winning three consecutive from 1978-80. There have been two players repeat on tour this year, as well: Jimmy Walker at the Sony Open in Hawaii and Matt Every at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida.

Todd understands what it takes to do it.

As he said, “You’re going to have to hit the ball well and make putts. When my putting is on, I have a good chance to win.”

Putting is what propelled Todd to his first career victory a year ago. He needed only 99 putts the entire tournament, edging Mike Weir by two strokes in the end.

Not only did it secure Todd’s PGA Tour card for the next two years, it also assured the Georgia resident a coveted spot in the Masters.

Todd, 29, missed the cut at his first Masters last month, but he’s having a solid season so far. He has already surpassed $1 million in earnings, posting three top-10s and six top-25 finishes.

“It’s been a good run since [the Nelson win], but [I] would like to get back in the winner’s circle,” said Todd, who recently signed a sponsorship deal with MLB.com.

“Hopefully we’ll get some good vibes going this week.”

2014 Nelson winner Brendon Todd met with the media on Tuesday.

Tracking

Tuesday’s are usually the lazy day on the PGA Tour.

But there’s little laziness going on at the practice range, where pros and caddies are looking to fine tune games going into Thursday opening round.

Jason Dufner spent time on the Trackman product trying to evaluate a new Titleist ball that will be on the market soon.

“I was looking at some stuff on spin rates and drivers and comparing the golf ball I play now to another one that is available out here,” Dufner said. “There’s not much to do on Tuesdays, but you just kind of try to see if something matches up a little better.

“I like to fiddle, but usually it doesn’t transfer much as to going out on the golf course. There’s always new product out here and you’re always looking for an edge to make it a little bit better.”

Trackman Tour representative Kyle Butler said the Denmark-based company has over 300 players working with the launch monitor.

Mahan watch

Hunter Mahan is making a comeback to his hometown tournament. He hasn’t played the tournament since 2010 when he publicly ripped the course for not suiting his play.

But Mahan didn’t care to reflect too much on his disparaging remarks from four years ago, instead looking ahead to being back in a solid field that features four of the top-12 golfers in world.

“Four years ago … it was mental,” said Mahan, a Dallas resident. “I played here quite a few years and it mentally wore me down. You know, now I don’t think the course hates me, and the bad breaks aren’t because it’s me. It’s because it’s golf.”

Mahan played the Nelson for seven consecutive years between 2004-10, with his best finish being a tie for 42 in 2008. Of his 24 tournament rounds, only eight have been in the 60s.

“I’m ready to play golf this week and hit good shots,” he said. “I don’t care what breaks I get. I’m confident I can play well.”

Briefly

▪ Despite recent rains and winds, the Nelson course remains saturated, but playable. Maintenance crews spent part of Sunday repairing a corporate tent that was damaged by Saturday night winds and removing debris from the course. Those repairs were made before golfers began practice rounds Monday.

▪ Among the alternates who have been added to the field are Colleyville’s Greg Chalmers, who is taking the place of Kevin Kisner, and Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champ, who has been added in place of Chris Stroud.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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