Rain delayed the action in Las Colinas by more than two hours yesterday, as the AT&T Byron Nelson tournament officially got under way. Ryan Palmer passed the time by shooting hoops with his caddie, Dustin Johnson checked out machines in the newly renovated weight room, and a few other golfers played ping-pong. Hard-working reporters in the media room, meantime, got chair massages.
Kelly Kraft played some one-on-one basketball with his trainer before going through his warm-up routine, then hitting the course. I caught up with him after his round; he finished the day at 1-under. The North Texas native who played college golf for SMU turned pro in 2012 — a year after winning the U.S. Amateur.
A deep bench of talented players on the tour keeps things challenging and exciting, he says. “Any week, if you are in the field, you can win,” he told me. “Everyone seems like they are firing on all cylinders all the time. They may have an off week here or there, but I’d say the most surprising thing has been just how really good everyone is.”
He has known his caddie, Boston Brittain, since grade school in Denton. The two played baseball together, and Boston, whose dad is PGA professional Randy Brittain, got him into golf around the age of 12. “We just started stringing together rounds,” Kraft said. “That turned into high school golf, then college, and now professional golf.”
When he’s home, he likes to hit up Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village (“good spot, good people-watching, and great margaritas”) or Le Bilboquet, a French bistro in the Knox area. And he likes to play golf (“a fun round with friends, with a couple of beers, not a grind, like it can get [on the tour]”). His favorite courses are Dallas National, Brook Hollow, Preston Trail, and Lakewood Country Club. “And there’s another course being built called Maridoe Golf Club. It’s the old Honors course. A friend of mine, Albert Huddleston, bought it. He’s redoing it, and I think it’s going to be really cool.” (The Carrollton course, designed by American Society of Golf Course Architects president Steve Smyers, is scheduled to open in 2017. According to a press release from ASGCA: “Unlike the overwhelming majority of courses built over the last 30 years, where real estate sales were the first priority, Maridoe will exist to provide a great test for the game’s most skilled and accomplished players.”)
The gym at the Four Seasons turned out to be a popular place yesterday. Sergio Garcia, one of the leaders after the first round (he shot a 63, as did Danny Lee and Johnson Wagner), capped things off by playing basketball with his girlfriend. Hometown hero Jordan Spieth also shot well, coming in at 6-under (as did Dustin Johnson, Freddie Jacobson, and Tom Hoge).