Saturday, January 13, 2007

Byron Nelson Classic Plans Ahead Minus Namesake

Last year, following the death of Byron Nelson, I wrote a post in which I predicted that the Byron Nelson Classic would begin a slow decline of field strength and prestige without its namesake around to add cachet. I certainly hope that turns out to be wrong.

The folks who stage the Nelson Classic are working to keep the tournament in the forefront of PGA Tour events. The "kickoff luncheon" for this year's Nelson was held a few days ago at the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, whose charities the tournament supports (the Nelson is annually among the biggest money raisers on the Tour).

Reports the AP:

"In some ways, it's a new beginning for us," said golf commentator and Dallas-area resident David Feherty, the keynote speaker. "Byron would consider this just to be another Byron Nelson (tournament). And we will go ahead exactly as if he were here with us. Because he is, and he always will be."

Tournament chairman Brooks Cullum said plans are being made for a "specific event to commemorate Byron" during the week of the April 26-29 tournament. He said there would also be reminders of Nelson on the TPC Four Seasons and Cottonwood Valley courses.

The mention of the tournament's host courses reminds me of something I was thinking about recently: this tournament - if it wants to avoid the fate of Colonial following the death of Ben Hogan - might want to consider moving to a new golf course. The PGA Tour players aren't crazy about either of the courses on which the Nelson is played, particularly the TPC course. A move to one of the new courses in the DFW area - one of the courses with some buzz about it, such as The Vaquero or Dallas National - would certainly stoke interest in the event.

The AP article goes on to talk about the appearance of Peggy Nelson, Byron's widow, at the luncheon.

And to mention that John Daly will be playing via a sponsor's exemption.

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