(Reuters) - Brendon Todd would join Hall of Fame company with a successful title defense at this week’s Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas, but he is keeping one eye on the severe weather that has already battered the state.
At least 18 people have been killed in Texas and Oklahoma from storms during the Memorial Day weekend that caused record floods and destroyed hundreds of homes, and further flash floods are expected in Texas through this week.
There is at least a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms for the next four days at the already water-logged TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas where Todd expects power hitters to flourish.
“It’s been super wet and the golf course is totally under water, not a dry spot in any fairway,” Todd told reporters while preparing for Thursday’s opening round at a prestigious PGA Tour event that has attracted 10 of the world’s top 30 players. “I’m sure we’ll be playing lift, clean and place.”
Further storms have been forecast for later on Wednesday with strong winds, hail and isolated tornadoes also expected, and Todd is gearing up for a par-70 layout that will play much longer than its full yardage of 7,116.
“When it gets soft, it seems to bring the longer players in,” said the 29-year-old American. “If they miss a fairway, it stays there. There will be a lot of birdie chances.
“You’re going to see a hundred guys under par and you’re probably going to get some of the bombers up there near the top of the board.”
Todd clinched his maiden PGA Tour victory by two shots at the Four Seasons TPC last year and would emulate Tom Watson (1978-79-80), Jack Nicklaus (1970-71) and Sam Snead (1957-58) as a back-to-back winner of the event should he retain his title.
“It’s very difficult to repeat on Tour,” said Todd, who has three top-10s in 15 starts on the 2014-15 PGA Tour. “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.”
Todd faces a strong field led by Masters champion, hometown favorite and world number two Jordan Spieth, who made his PGA Tour debut at the 2010 Byron Nelson event aged 16.
Also competing are eighth-ranked Australian Jason Day and Americans Dustin Johnson (10th) and Jimmy Walker (12th).
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue