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Winners and Losers of 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2013

Winners and Losers of 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship

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    Sang-Moon Bae was not overwhelmed.

    He had never won a PGA tournament before, and when Keegan Bradley put in a claim for the Byron Nelson Championship by coming out guns blazing and seizing command in the first round, Bae did not simply roll over and say he was fighting for second place.

    Instead, Bae played stellar golf for four rounds and chipped away at the lead each day. By the conclusion of Sunday's round, Bae was the one holding the trophy with Lord Byron's image on it and not Bradley.

    Bae certainly had a glorious weekend, but he was not the only big winner. Here's a look at the winners and losers at the Byron Nelson Championship played in Irving, Texas.

Winner: Sang-Moon Bae

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    Sang-Moon Bae had his work cut out for him after the first round. Keegan Bradley, who had been somewhat disappointed by his play this season, came out guns blazing in the Byron Nelson and fired a 60 in the opening round.

    You couldn't have blamed Bae if he had set his goals on picking up a second-place finish because it didn't seem likely was going that anyone was going to play well enough to take the tournament away from Bradley.

    But Bae is a single-minded golfer who has been very successful when playing in Asia. He has 11 international victories on his resume, but he was still looking for his first PGA Tour victory.

    Instead of concentrating on trying to catch Bradley, Bae made his goal playing consistent golf in each of the four rounds. He fired a 66 in the opening round and followed that up with two sub-70 rounds.

    By the time Bae teed off on Sunday, he was just one stroke off the lead. His confidence allowed him to catch and pass Bradley in the final round. Bae shot a 69 and and he was able to take the tournament by two strokes as he made numerous clutch shots in windy conditions in the final round.

    Bae became the third first-time winner on the tour in the last four weeks. He joined Billy Horschel and Derek Ernst in that category.

    "The course was really tough," Bae told PGATour.com. "The winds were very strong. I did very well this week."

Loser: Scott Piercy

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    Scott Piercy had a superb effort in the first three days of the Byron Nelson Championship.

    He was 10-under par through three rounds, shooting 66 in the first and third rounds, with a 68 in the second round.

    However, it wasn't just that Piercy was putting great numbers on the board. He was simply hitting the ball with power and consistency. Piercy averaged 316.0 yards per drive, a figure that ranked fifth in the tournament, and he was also second in hitting greens in regulation.

    When you hit the ball that far and do it with the accuracy that Piercy displayed, you are going to have a great chance to win the tournament.

    Piercy would have had a great chance to do that if he didn't close with a two-over-par 72 on Sunday. He finished in a tie for fifth place.

    While that was respectable, he had a chance to do much more than that, and Piercy has to be quite disappointed with the way he closed.

Winner: Keegan Bradley

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    Keegan Bradley appeared to have an excellent chance at becoming the first wire-to-wire winner of the tournament since 1980, but he was bothered by the high winds and he was overtaken by Sang-Moon Bae on the final day of the tournament.

    Bradley seemed to find his game in this tournament and he shot a remarkable 60 in the opening round. Bradley seemed to gain confidence in his himself as he played that round, and it stayed with him in the next two rounds.

    That's important because Bradley has the game to be a big factor in the U.S. Open next month because of his length and accuracy.

    Bradley averaged 321.3 yards per drive and ranked second in driving distance during the weekend. While he should have been able to hold on for the win, it seems that one of the most exciting players on tour found his game this weekend.

Loser: Ben Crane

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    Ben Crane served notice that he was going to make a strong run at contending in the Byron Nelson when he shot a 67 in the opening round and he followed that up with a 69 in the second round.

    Crane has never been known for his distance off the tee, but he is an accurate hitter. However, that part of game was not obvious in the final two rounds.

    With a chance to move into contention when he teed off in the third round, Crane was only able to muster a three-over-par 73. He shot the same score on Sunday.

    When he was faced with a pressure situation on moving day, Crane appeared to fall apart and he was never able to find his game again.

    Crane only hit 48.21 percent of his fairways in regulation, and that's what cost him from remaining in contention in the final two rounds.

Winner: Ricky Barnes

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    The leaderboard shows that Ricky Barnes finished in a tie for 12th at the Byron Nelson, shooting a 275. He finished eight strokes behind champion Sang-Moon Bae.

    That may not seem very impressive, but Barnes has been known for his inconsistency this season and a tendency to fall apart on Sunday.

    That didn't happen this time around. Barnes started well with a 68, but he was rather unimpressive in his next two rounds with a 71 and a 70.

    However, he was superb in very difficult conditions on Sunday, shooting a four-under-par 66 to tie for the second-best round of the day.

    Barnes was able to hold his game together with his fine work on the green. He averaged 1.694 putts per hole, tying for ninth in that category.

Loser: Charlie Beljan

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    Charlie Beljan should serve as an example for any young hotshot who wants to have a career as a professional golfer.

    It's not enough to just bomb the ball down the fairway. You have to have a fully developed game if you are going to contend in any PGA tournament.

    That's not Beljan. He may have dominated the Byron Nelson championship off the tee, but he finished well back of the leaders.

    Beljan averaged 324.5 yards with his driver, beating his nearest competitor by more than 3.0 yards per drive.

    However, Beljan shot an even-par 280. Consistency was not a part of his game. He struggled reaching greens in regulation (tied for 62nd) and putting (39th), and that's why he finished 13 strokes behind Bae.

    Accuracy and touch will help a golfer climb the leaderboard a lot faster bombing the ball off the tee.

Winner: Martin Kaymer

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    When Martin Kaymer is on his game, he is one of the most dangerous golfers in the world.

    Unfortunately for Kaymer, he has been slumping for much of the past two seasons. He won slightly more than $280,000 last year and he been just a bit better this year.

    Kaymer has made uncharacteristic mistakes throughout the year. If he hit the ball well, his short game suffered. If his short game was decent, he lacked consistency off the tee.

    However, Kaymer's game came together at the Byron Nelson Championship. He shot an eight-under-par 272 and finished five strokes behind Bae.

    Kaymer shot four consecutive sub-70 rounds and that enabled him to earn $244,550. Kaymer performed well in all aspects of the game, and his accuracy was most notable. He hit 62.5 percent of all his drives in the fairway.

    Kaymer may soon be a factor in the bigger tournaments the rest of the year.

Loser: John Daly

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    John Daly is trying to get his game back together, and perhaps he took a small step this weekend by completing all four rounds of the Byron Nelson Championship.

    That's about the only positive thing you could say about his performance. Daly finished tied for 66th with a four-round total of 284.

    Daly actually performed fairly well in the first two rounds, firing a 71 and a 66. After a solid 70 in the third round, Daly fell apart with a 77 on Sunday.

    Daly's final round was marked by his halting finish. He bogeyed each of the final six holes and that left him in a tie for 66th.

    Daly hit 59.72 percent of his greens in regulation, tying him for 62nd in that category.

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