Thursday, May 11, 2006

Byron Nelson

byron nelson As golfers tee off today in the EDS Byron Nelson Championship (live scoring available on the PGATour.com tournament page), don't forget the man whose name is the name of the tournament.

The great Lord Byron won 54 times on the PGA Tour, despite retiring from full-time competitive golf at the age of 34. He won 18 times in 1945 (plus once more in an "unofficial" tournament), including 11 wins in a row.

That 1945 season came during a stretch in which Nelson finished in the top 10 in 65 straight tournaments. During the streak, he was first 34 times, second 16 more times - 50 out of 65 times in the top two!

And as his protege Ken Venturi once said, "You can always argue who was the greatest player, but Byron is the finest gentleman the game has ever known."

If you want to read a short profile of Nelson, here's one on About.com, and here's another on the World Golf Hall of Fame site. And here's an argument for Nelson's 1945 season as the best in golf history.

Speaking of articles about Byron Nelson, the June issue of Texas Highways magazine has one that I highly recommend. Very enjoyable reading - the article is pretty much just one long golf tale by Nelson.

Who else is left who can start a story by saying, "I picked up Arnold (Palmer) and then we drove over to pick up Ike (Dwight Eisenhower)." Nelson talks about the many rounds he played with President Eisenhower at Augusta, including one where Ike outdrove him on two holes. Eisenhower said nothing while the round was in progress. But after, in the clubhouse, he walked in and spotted Nelson, and bellowed out to all around, "I outdrove that duffer twice today!"

Then there's the time Jug McSpaden made off with Byron's favorite putter, then broke it ... Unfortunately, the story is not yet posted on the Texas Highways website. But look for it.

You can have Ben Hogan. I'll take Mr. Nelson. I know which one I'd want to play golf with, or just sit and chat with. People respected Hogan. They admire Nelson.

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