Planet Golf — 12 May 2023 by GW staff and news services
Justin Day wins first time in five years

McKINNEY, Texas — Jason Day won his first PGA TOUR event in five years Sunday, shooting 9-under 62 for a one-shot victory over Austin Eckroat and Si Woo Kim at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Day, winless in 105 starts since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, took his first outright lead when he broke a tie at 20 under with hometown favorite Scottie Scheffler with a chip-in for birdie at the par-4 12th.

It was the second-toughest hole of the week after being converted from a par-5 from the first two years the Nelson was held at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, about 30 miles north of Dallas.

Playing on Mother’s Day a little more than a year after losing his mom to cancer, Day finished 23 under while ending his victory drought the week before the PGA Championship.

The only major among the 35-year-old Australian’s 13 wins was the 2015 PGA. Day’s first career PGA TOUR victory came at the 2010 Byron Nelson.

C.T. Pan finished at 21-under 263 with two eagles on the back nine in a career-low 62, driving the green on the par-4 14th and making a 24-foot putt. His eagle at the par-5 18th got him within a shot of Day.

Scheffler finished at 20 under with a final-round 65 after a par on 18, where a day earlier his second shot hit the lip of a fairway bunker and stayed in it on the way to a bogey.

Ryan Palmer, the 46-year-old Texan who lives not far from Craig Ranch, shot 68 and finished four strokes back.

With the heaviest rain coming down near the end of an off-and-on rainy final round, Day put his approach at 18 inside 3 feet. Kim’s short birdie putt forced Day to make his easy tap-in before he greeted his kids and wife, who is expecting their fifth child.

Kim, who shot 63 and was 22 under with Eckroat, was trying to make it four consecutive South Korean winners at the Byron Nelson. Two-time defending champion K.H. Lee finished 11 under after a 67, his best round of the week.

Sung Kang was the 2019 winner.

Eckroat, a 24-year-old rookie from Oklahoma seeking his first TOUR victory, was two shots back in the 18th fairway, but his approach landed 68 feet from the pin. The eagle bid was 6 feet short as Eckroat settled for a 65.

China’s Marty Dou, playing on his home course and also seeking his first TOUR win, shot 67 to finish 20 under. He was the first two get that low before a double-bogey on No. 8 when his second shot went out of bounds over the green.

Scheffler, the second-ranked player who could have overtaken Jon Rahm for No. 1 with a victory, was joined at 20 under by Tyrrell Hatton, who was next on the world ranking list in the Nelson field at No. 17.


McKINNEY, Texas — Scottie Scheffler is looking up on the leaderboard at the AT&T Byron Nelson at a couple of contemporaries without nearly the resume the Dallas resident has built over the past 15 months.

In fact, Austin Eckroat and China’s Marty Dou are seeking a first PGA TOUR victory.

The Oklahoma-raised Eckroat shot an 8-under 63, one better than Dou, and the pair shared a two-shot lead with Texan Ryan Palmer at 16 under after the third round of the Nelson on Saturday.

Scheffler was in the group at 14 under after the hometown favorite faltered with a bogey at the par-5 18th when his second shot hit the lip of a fairway bunker and stayed in it.

Palmer had an eagle putt for the outright lead on 18, but the 35-footer stopped just short, leaving him at 68. Scheffler shot even-par 71 after the best two-round start to his career with a pair of 64s.

Dou, who lives in the Dallas area and is on his home course at the TPC Craig Ranch, is the same age as the 26-year-old Scheffler. Eckroat is just two years younger and says he played plenty of golf “from all ages” with the former Texas Longhorn.

They might as well be years apart on pedigree.

Scheffler has the 2022 Masters title among six career victories — all since February of last year — and knows he will be in the field for the PGA Championship next week at Oak Hill.

Eckroat would appreciate the spot in the field at Oak Hill that a win at the Byron Nelson would earn him. The former Oklahoma State player has plenty at stake regardless.

“A lot of job security,” Eckroat said. “A lot of things come with winning a PGA TOUR event, and just hoping to get that done.”

Dou, who settled in the Dallas area about five years ago so he could pursue a career in golf, doesn’t even want to think about what a victory would mean in his home country.

“It’s going to be big for sure,” said Dou, a three-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour. “There is a whole lot more golf to play, so I’m in good in the position like this, creating more chances, and that’s all I’m thinking.”

Vincent Norrman of Sweden shot 65 and was at 14 under with Scheffler, Jason Day (66) and Si Woo Kim (68). There were 25 players within five shots of the lead.

Tyrrell Hatton, at No. 17 the second-highest ranked player in the field behind No. 2 Scheffler, shot 65 and was 13 under alongside Patton Kizzire (64), Sung Kang (66) and Richy Werenski (68).

Eckroat had just one par on the front nine, answering a double-bogey at the par-3 seventh with his sixth and seventh birdies before the turn. The back nine was much more routine — six pars and three birdies.

“It just didn’t really faze me like it normally would,” Eckroat said. “Really happy how I handled that.”

Dou opened with a 63 that was overshadowed by a course record-tying 60 from South Korean S.Y. Noh, who had a second consecutive over-par around at 73 to fall out of contention.

After a 1-under 70 left him five shots behind Scheffler through two rounds, Dou quietly crept up the leaderboard before a 28-foot birdie putt on No. 16 put him in a tie for the lead.

Dou won’t have to worry about the large crowds following Scheffler, whose late flub kept him out of the final group. But he is a 54-hole leader for the first time.

“I think nerves is the same thing as me playing on the Korn Ferry,” Dou said. “You get into it and you’re going to be nervous no matter what.”

Scheffler could have taken a two-shot lead at the par-4 12th but missed a short birdie putt on the second-toughest hole, which was converted after playing as a par-5 in the Byron Nelson’s first two years at the TPC Craig Ranch.

He missed two more decent chances at birdie on the back nine before the trouble on 18, when he also missed the green on an easy approach shot after finally getting out of the bunker.

“I just thinned it,” Scheffler said of the first bunker shot. “I wasn’t even thinking about the lip. I just hit a terrible shot.”

Palmer, a four-time winner on TOUR without a solo victory in 13 years, had a shaky start to the back nine before finishing with three birdies in five holes, capped by the tap-in at 18.

“It was a patient day,” said the 46-year-old Palmer, who grew up in West Texas but lives in the Dallas area. “I knew I was going to be one or two back, worst case. It’s going to be nice to be in the final group again, and we’ll give it our all.”

Two-time defending champion K.H. Lee shot a second consecutive 68 and was 7-under. The last player to win a PGA TOUR event three consecutive times was Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic from 2009-11


MCKINNEY. Texas — Scottie Scheffler says he tries not to put too much emphasis on winning one tournament over another, even when his hometown AT&T Byron Nelson is in play.

Ryan Palmer isn’t keeping any secrets. Win the Nelson not far from his home in another Dallas-Fort Worth suburb, knowing it would qualify the 46-year-old Texan for next week’s PGA Championship?

“I’d win this tournament and stay home next week, to be honest with you,” said Palmer, who lives in Colleyville but was born and raised in Amarillo in West Texas. “That means more to me.”

Scheffler shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday for a one-shot lead over Palmer and Mackenzie Hughes. Palmer’s 65 and a 64 from Hughes put them at 13-under 129. Si Woo Kim shot 66 and was 11 under.

S.Y. Noh, who tied the course record with an opening-round 60, birdied his first two holes before playing the final 16 in 5 over. The South Korean had three 6s in a round of 74 and was 8 under, six shots back.

Two-time defending champion K.H. Lee made the cut on the number at 4 under, but the South Korean’s bid to become the first player in 12 years to win a tournament three consecutive times is all but gone. Lee birdied three of his final six holes just to make the weekend.

Last year, Scheffler shared the hometown spotlight with fellow former Texas Longhorn Jordan Spieth, who had to withdraw from this year’s event because of a wrist injury.

Spieth doesn’t hide his desire to win the tournament where he was a Sunday contender 13 years ago at age 16.

Also raised in Dallas, Scheffler made his PGA TOUR debut at the Nelson four years after Spieth’s stunning run, making the cut and recording a hole-in-one as a high school senior.

“I want to win a lot of tournaments,” said Scheffler, who would return to No. 1 in the world for the third time this year with a victory. “This one being in the hometown, it would definitely be a lot of fun with the crowd behind me this weekend.

“But that’s not stuff that occupies too many of my thoughts,” Scheffler said. “I don’t want to place too much emphasis on one tournament. I just want to go out and do my best and see where that puts me.”

Scheffler and Spieth should have plenty of Nelsons in their futures. Palmer, who shares a coach and plenty of practice time with Scheffler, is 20 years older than the 2022 Masters champion.

After what he said was the earliest wakeup time in 20 years on TOUR (3:50 a.m.) for a 7:01 tee time, Palmer had seven birdies and a bogey a day after eight birdies and a bogey.

A year ago, Palmer was tied for the 36-hole lead at 15 under, musing then that he was the older, maybe forgotten Texan with all the attention on the three-time major winner Spieth and Scheffler, the defending Masters champion at the time.

Palmer’s last TOUR win came at a team event with Jon Rahm four years ago. His most recent solo victory was 13 years ago.

“I’ve just got to keep the gas pedal down,” Palmer said. “I think we’re going to get a lot of rain (Saturday), it sounds like and possibly Sunday, so it could be a very patient weekend.”

Right on cue, the TOUR announced earlier tee times with threesomes off Nos. 1 and 10 for Saturday, hoping to beat a rainy forecast. The outlook is the same for Sunday.

Scheffler took his first outright lead with a birdie at No. 3, his 12th hole of the day. The 26-year-old was bogey-free until his 17th hole on No. 8 but answered with his eighth birdie of the day at the par-5 ninth.

“Just solid golf,” said Scheffler, who opened with a pair of 64s or better for the first time in his career. “I didn’t really struggle for too many pars out there, and I felt like I putted a little bit better today than yesterday.”

Noh, who passed up a chance to go for the 18th green in two in the first round when an eagle would have given him a 59, had a double bogey on the par-4 second, his 11th hole. He had to take a penalty drop when his drive went into the trees as he capped a four-hole stretch at 4 over.

Hughes, whose second TOUR victory came in a playoff at the Sanderson Farms Championship in October, had seven birdies in a second consecutive bogey-free round.

The highlight for Hughes was a bump-and-run chip-in for birdie on the par-4 16th, which is playing as the most difficult hole.

“Had the whole length of the green to work with, so I felt like it was a good spot to get up-and-down for par and did one better,” Hughes said. “Hadn’t done that in a while, so that felt pretty good.”

Aaron Wise, the 2018 Byron Nelson winner, will be around for the weekend in his first tournament in two months after saying he needed to take time off to focus on his mental health. Wise was 4 under.


MCKINNEY, Tx. — Seung-Yul Noh found the fairway at the par-5 18th in the opening round of the AT&T Byron Nelson, laid up to a comfortable yardage and made birdie at the closing hole. Tough to question that strategy, right?

The birdie capped an 11-under-par 60 for the South Korean, which by any standard is a great day at the course. It does, however, beg the question: why not go for it? Why not take the risk with the second shot on 18 and try to make eagle to cement your name in the history books?

After a 280-yard drive, Noh was left with 257 yards to the hole at the 18th. There was a slight headwind, and Noh, who is seeking his second PGA Tour victory and first since the 2014 Zurich Classic, decided to take the safe route.

“Not too much wind, but for the distance-wise, so my 3-wood going off the ground like 265 [yards] off the ground, but it’s like just under 260 without the wind,” Noh said after the round. “It’s like borderline … Today is going, everything going good. Even wedge game and putting, everything going good. I’m just trying to make birdie, just forget about the eagle 59.”

The list of players to shoot sub-60 rounds on Tour will remain at 11 for the time being, with Scottie Scheffler the most recent at the 2020 Northern Trust.

Despite coming up just short of golf’s magic number, Noh put together a magical round on Day 1 at TPC Craig Ranch. Nine birdies, an eagle and eight pars culminated in a career-low round for the 31-year-old.

Shooting 60 wasn’t the only “first” Thursday for Noh. He missed his tee shot well to the right of the fairway at the par-4 12th and felt something unusual at impact. When he checked his driver head, it was cracked, which he said has never happened to him prior to today.

He was able to get up and down for par from 149 yards on the 12th to stay bogey-free. He then used his driver once more at the 13th, this time making par after missing left off the tee. Since his driver was cracked in the course of play with no intent, he was then able to replace the driver head for the remainder of the round.

Noh holds a three-shot lead over 2008 Byron Nelson champion Adam Scott and 26-year-old Zecheng Dou. 

Scott, who started on the 10th hole, led the field on Day 1 in strokes gained: around the green and was second in strokes gained: off the tee.

“Yeah, all really good solid stuff, especially off the tee,” Scott said. “It’s probably the best I’ve driven it in forever. That was a nice way to start every hole. Took advantage of that nicely, certainly out of the gates on some of the long par-4s, birdieing three of the first four holes on that side is a nice way to start. Was happy to keep it going all the way around.”

The Australian had just one bogey to go along with nine birdies.

Another shot back at 7 under was a group of six players that included Scottie Scheffler, Jason Day and Ryan Palmer. 

Scheffler was 6 under through six holes, before slipping to 3 under after back-to-back bogeys at 12 and 13. The former Longhorn then birdied 14 and 15 before closing with an eagle to get in the group at 7 under. 

Two-time defending champion K.H. Lee shot 1 under. 

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