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HP Byron Nelson Championship 2013: Hottest and Coldest Golfers in Tournament

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IMay 15, 2013

HP Byron Nelson Championship 2013: Hottest and Coldest Golfers in Tournament

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    The HP Byron Nelson Championship doesn't feature golf's biggest stars, but it has some quality depth—the full field is available here

    This includes defending champ Jason Dufner, who just so happened to make this list. Although, not in the way he'd have liked, I assume. 

    With the U.S. Open just a month away, it is time for Dufner and the other two golfers on the cold list to start turning their game around. That all starts this week. 

    So, check out which golfers will be heading into this tournament hoping to reverse their current play, or simply try to keep their hot hand rolling. 

    *All stats via PGATour.com

Cold No. 3: Jason Dufner

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    It took me a while to buy into Jason Dufner last year, but after he kept churning out consistent solid tournaments I finally bought in.

    After all, in his last 14 events of 2012, he didn't have one finish lower than 31st.

    So, once Dufner finally got me on board, I was convinced his solid and consistent ball striking would lead to prolonged success. It hasn't.

    Dufner hasn't been terrible. He's missed just two cuts in his 11 events, but he isn't playing anywhere near the level where he was last year.

    Dufner's highest finish this year is 12th.

    He did have a solid 20th at the Masters, but that is easily his best finish in his last five events. He was cut at Bay Hill prior to the Masters and he's gotten worse each week following the Masters with a 35th, 42nd and 62nd.

    Dufner is 13th in driving accuracy, but he is just 55th in greens in regulation. He is also putting much worse than last year and is currently 153rd in strokes gained-putting.

    Dufner hasn't been showing any signs of improvement with his approaches or putting, and until he does, he will be doomed to mediocrity. 

Hot No. 3: Ben Crane

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    Ben Crane is a streaky golfer, which is likely due to his extensive back problems. However, he has talent and he has picked up four Tour wins in his career.

    He looks like he is feeling good right now, and his results show it.

    He did miss the cut at the Zurich Classic, but he followed that up with a nice eighth at the Players last week. He also had a fourth at the Houston Open, which was just four tournaments ago for him.

    Crane has been shaky off the tee, but his putter has been grooved.

    If he can manage to hit a few more fairways off the tee, he could easily sneak out of this tournament with the win.  

Cold No. 2: Keegan Bradley

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    Keegan Bradley was in great form heading into the Masters. He had finished in the top 10 in each of his four tournaments leading up to the year's first major. 

    Then he came in 54th in the Masters in a run that was marred by an 82 in the third round, and he hasn't been the same since. 

    Bradley has played two tournaments since leaving Augusta and he's missed the cut in both. 

    When Bradley is at his best, he is crushing the par fives, and he's been too inconsistent in his ball striking to do that lately. In his last eight rounds, which goes back to the start of the Masters, Bradley is just a combined six-under on the par fives. 

    Bradley isn't that far off his game, which makes this an interesting time for him. He can either quickly get back on track or fall further into the abyss. 

Hot No. 2: Jimmy Walker

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    Jimmy Walker has been dy-no-mite. You think he ever gets sick of those jokes? They're probably a lot easier for him to swallow when people use them to talk about him playing well, which hasn't happened all that often.

    Walker turned pro in 2001, and he has just 18 top-10 finishes in his PGA career. His highest finish is third, which he's done twice. He did that earlier this year at Pebble Beach, and that came just two events after he finished fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open

    He hasn't been performing at that level lately, but he's close, and his whole year has been solid. 

    Walker has played 13 PGA events this year and he hasn't missed a cut, and just two of his finishes have been worse than 31st. 

    His last three times out, Walker was eighth at the Zurich, 22nd at Wells Fargo and then 15th last week at the Players. 

    Walker can boom it off the tee and he is an excellent putter. I would be surprised if he didn't pick up his first PGA win this year. 

Cold No. 1: Vijay Singh

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    Vijay Singh...where do we begin? Let's just start with his performance on the course. 

    After making the cut in his first seven events of the year, which ended with a 38th at the Masters, Singh has missed his last two cuts. 

    Considering he is 50 and has had back problems, it would be harsh to put him on the cold list simply for that. However, there is more. 

    Singh was busted for using the performance enhancing deer antler spray. To his credit, Singh never denied his use of the product, and he wound up being cleared of wrongdoing by the Tour. 

    So, that would seem like a good ending to the story, right? Well, it would have been. However, Vijay has decided to sue the Tour because of what he went through during the investigation. 

    Couldn't he have just let the lack of punishment be enough? 

    It was so refreshing to see an athlete actually admit to using a performance enhancer, and then Vijay just threw it all away with a petty suit that I hope he loses. 

Hot No. 1: Marc Leishman

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    Marc Leishman is a strong pick to come away with the victory at this tournament. He's got a strong history at this event, and he's been in great form. 

    Leishman was third here last year, and finished 12th or higher in three of his past four trips leading up to that. He's also on fire right now. 

    His last three times out he was fourth at the Masters, ninth at the Heritage and eighth last week at the Players. 

    The key to Leishman's success has been his putting. He is fairly pedestrian off the tee, but he is solid with his irons, and this puts a lot of pressure on his putter for him to be successful. 

    Leishman is insanely streaky with his flat iron, and he's been on with it lately. He's finished with a positive number in strokes gained-putting in his last two tournaments—they don't track that stat for the Masters. 

    If he can finish this tournament near the .666 mark in strokes gained-putting he had last week, he could easily walk away with this title. 

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