By Sam McPherson
Playing the weekend in 11-under par, PGA Tour rookie Aaron Wise won his first tournament on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, played at the Trinity Forest Golf Club course in Dallas. Overall, Wise finished 23-under for the tournament, beating Marc Leishman by three strokes after Leishman had established a new 36-hole record for the event after the first two rounds of play.
Wise’s 65 effort on Sunday broke the tie he and Leishman shared at the start of the fourth round, which was delayed four hours due to weather. Wise’s first PGA Tour win came with a $1.386 million paycheck, easily the biggest payoff for the 21-year old American from Las Vegas. His overall score also established a new tournament record for the event, as the AT&T Byron Nelson moved to its new home this year at Trinity Forest. The old tournament record, 19-under, was set on the TPC Four Seasons course in nearby Irving.
Three players tied for third place with 19-under scores: Branden Grace, Keith Mitchell, and J.J. Spaun. Grace shot 62 on Sunday, while Mitchell and Spaun each carded rounds of 63 to move up the standings. Overall, 14 golfers shot all four rounds of the event in the 60s, as it was clear from the start of the tournament that the treeless, links-style course would be ripe for low scores.
Leishman opened with a 61 on Thursday to set the course on fire. However, 11 golfers total shot 65 or better in the first round, as the Trinity Forest course provided ample opportunity for birdies. Tied for second, Spaun and Jimmy Walker both lurked three shots behind Leishman after posting matching 64s.
The second round was more of the same, as Leishman posted a 66 on Friday to set the event’s 36-hole record at 15-under par, but that was good enough for just a one-shot edge over Wise, who carded a 63 in the second round. Brian Gay shot 62 on Friday to close within two strokes of the lead, while Kevin Na and Walker stood four shots back.
By the end of Saturday’s action, Wise had caught Leishman for the lead at 17-under overall. Together, the leading pair shared a four-stroke edge over both Matt Jones and Na. Gay and Walker stood five strokes behind the leaders after the third round, setting up Sunday’s tournament-record scoring opportunity.
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Next On The Tee: Fort Worth Invitational
The PGA Tour stays in Texas for another week, moving to nearby Fort Worth and the Colonial Country Club for the 71st Fort Worth Invitational, previously known as The Colonial. The legendary Ben Hogan won this event five times, so the tournament is closely associated with the former Forth Worth resident. Kevin Kisner is the defending champion, after posting a one-shot victory last year over three challengers, including current Texas’s favorite son, Jordan Spieth.
Over $7 million in prize money is up for grabs this week, as Kisner is joined by former champions Spieth (2016), Chris Kirk (2015), Adam Scott (2014), and Zach Johnson (2010, 2012). Wise is also scheduled to play, and his hot streak could continue in the Texas sun. Spaun and Mitchell also hope to continue their momentum from the Byron Nelson this week at the Colonial Country Club.
A founding member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, Perry Maxwell designed this course in the mid-1930s with help from John Bredemus. In its illustrious past, the Colonial Country Club has hosted the 1941 U.S. Open for men, the 1975 Tournament Players Championship, and the 1991 U.S. Open for women. It is the only course that has been used in the history of this event, and Johnson set the tournament-scoring record in 2010 at 21-under.
The Colonial Country Club course plays 7,209 yards long and is a par 70.
Favorites: Keith Mitchell, J.J. Spaun, Jordan Spieth
Players to Watch: Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner, Aaron Wise
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.