By TOM LaMARRE
K.H. Lee of South Korea doesn’t really care that he’s not favored to win the 70th AT&T Byron Nelson this week at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.
Second-ranked Scottie Scheffler, who lives in Dallas and played at the University of Texas, is the pick of most people after winning The Players Championship and the WM Phoenix Open this season to give him six PGA Tour victories and eight as a professional.
“I love playing in Texas for my fans and hope I can play my best for them,” said Scheffler, the 2022 Master champion, whose only victory in Texas came in the 2022 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship at Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas. “It’s always fun playing in front of the Texas fans.”
Lee (pictured) thought so, too, last year when he closed with a nine-under-par 63, his fourth consecutive round in the 60s, to beat Jordan Spieth, another Texan, by one stroke. That came one year after Lee also recorded four straight rounds in the 60s and claimed a three-stroke victory over Sam Burns.
What it means now is that Lee became the fourth player to win the AT&T Byron Nelson in back-to-back years, joining legends Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.
“I heard that,” said Lee, who has won six times as a pro. “It’s amazing, I can’t believe it. Just hopefully people remember my name, but, yeah, I try to play well more, so hopefully more will remember my name.
“I have a very comfortable feeling, tee shot or when I’m putting, it’s very welcoming here. It still feels like I’m dreaming, but the last two years still make good memories, and I’m looking forward to playing her again.”
Watson won the AT&T Byron Nelson a record four times and Lee will by trying to match Snead with three victories in the tournament.
Others noted winners of the AT&T Byron Nelson include Nelson in the first one, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ben Hogan, Dan January, Julius Boros, Billy Maxwell, Charles Coody, Roberto De Vicenzo, Miller Barber, Bruce Devlin, Raymond Floyd, Bruce Liedtke, Ben Crenshaw, Fred Couples, Payne Stewart, Nick Price, Scott Simpson, Ernie Els, John Cook, Loren Roberts, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Jason Day.
However, as noted, only three others have accomplished what Lee did in the last two years.
1. Scottie Scheffler, United States –Thesecond-ranked Scheffler is back home in Texas, where he won the WGC-Dell Match Play last season for one of his eight pro victories, including The Players and Phoenix Open among eight top-10 finishes this year. He is making his fifth start in the AT&T Byron Nelson, with his best results a tie for 15th last year and a tie for 22nd in 2014.
2. K.H. Lee, South Korea – You would think that the two-time defending champion of the ATT Byron Nelson would be favored, but not with Scottie Scheffler playing. Those are Lee’s only PGA Tour victories, but he claimed four more on three pro tours in Asia. He is coming off a tie for eighth in the Wells Fargo, one of four top-10s this season, including solo third in the CJ Cup.
3. Jason Day, Australia – The former world No. 1 seems to have his game back on track this season with six top-10 results, including solo fifth in Phoenix and a tie for fifth in the WGC-Dell Match Play. Day claimed the first of his 12 PGA Tour victories in the 2010 AT&T Byron Nelson, one of his 17 titles around the world as a professional, including the 2015 PGA Championship.
4. Tyrrell Hatton, England – You would have to think that Hatton’s 11th pro victory and second on the PGA Tour is not far away after he finished solo second in The Players, tied for fourth in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, tied for sixth in Phoenix and tied for third last week in the Wells Fargo Championship. He is making his tournament debut this week in the AT&T Byron Nelson.
5. Aaron Wise, United States – After withdrawing from the Masters to focus on his mental health, Wise is playing this week in the AT&T Byron Nelson, in which he claimed his only victory on the PGA Tour 2018 and one of three as a professional. The 26-year-old from Lake Elsinore finished solo sixth in the CJ Cup early this season, one of his five in the top 25.
6. Tom Kim, South Korea – The 20-year-old Kim continues to display skill and poise far beyond his years, as he has claimed his second PGA Tour victory in as many seasons, giving him 11 as a professional. In addition to winning the Shriners, he tied for fifth in the Sentry TOC, tied for sixth in the AmEx and tied for seventh in the Zurich. He is making AT&T Byron Nelson debut.
7. Adam Scott, Australia – The 2013 Masters champion claimed one of his 31 professional victories in the 2008 Byron Nelson, beating Ryan Moore in a playoff. Scott has played in the tournament six times and also tied for third in 2007 and tied for ninth in 2018. He was in the hunt most of the way last week in the Wells Fargo Championship and wound up in a tie for third.
8. Hideki Matsuyama, Japan – The 2021 Masters champion tied for fifth in The Players Championship before tying 15th in the Texas Open and tying for 16th in the Masters but then took time off because of a next and shoulder injury. Matsuyama, who has 17 victories as a pro, is making his fifth start in the Byron Nelson and tied for third last year by closing with a 62.
9. Matt Kuchar, United States – Koch is making his 14th start in the AT&T Byron Nelson, with his best results third in 2016, a tie for sixth in 2011, a tie for seventh in 2014 and a tie for ninth in 2017, and he has three other top 20s, including a tie for 12th last year. He tied for third in the Texas Open, tied for seventh in the Sony Open, tied for eighth in the Genesis this season.
10. Tom Hoge, United States – Hoge, who claimed his fourth pro victory in 2022 at Pebble Beach, tied for third recently in the Players after also tying for third in the Sentry TOC, tying for fourth in the Shriners and tying for ninth in the Zozo, and has four other finishes in the top 25. He had his best Byron Nelson result last year, when he tied for 17th with four rounds in the 60s.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Si Woo Kim, South Korea; Seamus Power, Ireland; Maverick McNealy, United States; Min Woo Lee, South Korea; Taylor Montgomery, United States; Adam Hadwin, Canada; Davis Riley, United States; Christian Bezuidenhout, South Africa; Scott Stallings, United States; J.J. Spaun, United States.
1. Michael Kim, United States – With a solo seventh in the Wells Fargo, Kim secured a spot in this year’s 151st Open. Winner of the 2018 John Deere Classic also was solo fifth in Puerto Rico.
2. Min Woo Lee, South Korea – A two-time winner on what is now the DB World Tour, Lee was in the chase in The Players until he closed with a 76 to finish T-6. Makes Byron Nelson debut.
3. Joseph Bramlett, United States – Former Stanford star, who won the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Championship, was T-10 recently in Mexico Open after T-7 at Pebble. T-7 in the 2021 Nelson.
4. Stephan Jaeger, Germany – Six-time winner on Korn Ferry Tour finished T-9 in Houston, T-14 and T-14 in Mexico this season. Best result in the AT&T Byron Nelson was T-17 in 2019..
5. Justin Suh, United States – The former USC standout, who won the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Championship, was T-6 in the players, T-5 in the Honda this season. Making his Nelson debut.
For first-round tee times and later complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard