WE have one remaining event on the USPGA Tour before the second Major of the year arrives with the PGA Championship on Thursday week.
The Byron Nelson event is named after a golfer who is mostly remembered for having won 11 consecutive tournaments and 18 total tournaments in 1945, a record that will never be beat. I was fortunate enough to see the Texan play a round in Ballybunion in the late ’80s and although he was approaching 70 then he was still able to shoot under his score on that famous links.
Only four of the top 20 in the world take part in this week’s tournament with many opting for a layoff before heading to Oak Hill. World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler (5/1), Jordan Spieth (8/1), Tyrrell Hatton (16/1), and Tom Kim (22/1) and two-time defending champion K.H. Lee (25/2) will be the bigger names taking part.
Lee going for three-in-a-row is interesting, but a trend here is four of the Byron Nelson’s last nine winners have hailed from South Korea. Joining Lee are Sung Kang (2019) and Sang-moon Bae (2013), and they’ll both tee it up this weekend too. Seamus Power showed some good form last week at the Wells Fargo event and the Waterford man is rated a 45/1 shot to add a third PGA Tour win for his career.
Scheffler is obviously the standout in a weaker than normal field, but fellow Texan Spieth, who hasn’t had a win in a year (losing out in a playoff while trying to defend his Heritage title last month) shot -25 over four rounds at this event last year, finishing one stroke off Lee. And in 2021 he was a tied ninth on the same course. Spieth missed the cut last week but has bounced back from these setbacks well over the past year. The Wells Fargo was his eighth missed cut since the start of 2022. In those prior seven instances, he posted four top-10 finishes in the start immediately following one. His last win was at the RBC Heritage last year after missing the weekend at the Masters; he also had two other top-four results during that stretch.
Jason Day is a former winner and runner-up but on a different course to current track TPC Craig Ranch.
Since teaming up with Shane Lowry’s former caddie Brian ‘Bo’ Matin of late, Englishman Hatton has been in good form. Third last Sunday at Quail Hollow saw it his third top-five finish in his last six starts (his other two coming at the elevated Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship).
FAIR to say the Champions League has failed to capture anyone’s imagination this year, bar fans of those sides still involved.
All hope is placed on the most legendary club giving the best side in Europe a run for their money in tonight’s semi first leg at the Bernabeu. Real Madrid edged Osasuna to a 2-1 victory in the Copa del Rey final over the weekend and will be confident despite being 9/4 underdogs to win the first leg and 5/2 to meet one of the Milan sides in the decider.Last year’s semi-final between the two had an ending that rivalled the Cork-Tipp one on Saturday evening for drama and tension.
Madrid will need to bring something to the Etihad, and lthough they have not conceded a goal in their last 346 minutes, they are going to be under pressure from City and haven’t managed to keep a clean sheet in their last four games, giving up nine goals during that period.
Both clubs have scored a combined 17 goals scored in the last four Champions League meetings. But Carlo Ancelotti’s side are unlikely to get fazed.
We’ll advise a 2-1 (11/1) twin that might give them hope heading into the second leg but judging on last year maybe we should throw our hands up and say, who knows?
An all-Milan semi-final would have been a mouthwatering fixture once, but a handy draw has helped both reach this stage of the competition.
Recently crowned champs Napoli are leaps ahead of everyone else in Serie A this season, but let things slip against AC in their quarters, getting only a draw at home after an opening 1-0 defeat at the San Siro. Inter were second best over two legs against Benfica too.
These two have met twice before in the competition and AC have prevailed in both previous meetings, in the 2002/03 semi-finals and 2004/05 quarter-finals. Italian champions in 2021/22 after an 11-year title drought, Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan won their first derby meeting of this year’s campaign 3-2 in September, but have lost twice since: 3-0 in the Italian Super Cup in January and then 1-0 in February.
Inter’s Lautaro Martinez (2/1 to score) and Edin Dzeko (3/1 to score) have both scored twice against the Rossoneri this season.
HOME comforts can suit Texans and although 8/1 might seem too short on someone as streaky as Spieth right now, we’ll take him to win the Byron Nelson and enter the PGA (for which he is 20/1) in flying form.
Addendum: Jordan Spieth's withdrawal with a wrist injury means we'll opt for Tyrell Hatton instead at 16/1.