Friday, May 06, 2005

Big 4 at Byron Nelson Classic

The world's four top-ranked players - Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson - have all committed to play in the Byron Nelson Classic next week in Dallas. As we noted in an earlier post, having the legendary Nelson involved helps with recruitment - especially this year, when 60th anniversary festivities will take place to mark Lord Byron's amazing 1945 season (18 wins, etc.).

Tim Rosaforte, writing in Golf Digest, explains the diverging paths of the Nelson and Fort Worth's Colonial (where none of the top players are expected):

Woods doesn't particularly love the TPC-Las Colinas but he's played well there, finishing first (1997), third (2001) and third (2002) in his first appearance after a Masters victory. But what the Nelson has is Byron Nelson - which is why Els would fly from London and back just for one tournament - and the best workout facility on tour. You could play this one at a goat ranch and as long as Nelson was hosting it, the big names would show up.

In that sense, the Bank of America Colonial doesn't have Ben Hogan anymore, and the golf course, while a classic in the design sense, is virtually obsolete for the big hitters. Woods, Singh and Mickelson will take that week off, while Els flys back to England for the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth. Colonial needs to add some yardage, or its destined to be overshadowed not only by the Nelson, but the Volvo PGA.

Sad, but true. Colonial is a brilliant course, and the fact that golf's top players consider it "obsolete" (Tiger has said so himself, albeit in a more tactful manner) is further proof that a tournament ball is needed.

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