Nelsons 1945 Arguably Golfs Best

By Associated PressMay 11, 2005, 4:00 pm
IRVING, Texas -- The 18 tee boxes on the TPC at Las Colinas each have a sign showing the tournaments Byron Nelson won in 1945 on the PGA Tour, including his record 11 straight victories from the Miami Four-Ball in March through the Canadian Open in August.
It is a subtle reminder for Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and the rest of Big Five playing in the Byron Nelson Championship of what many consider the greatest year in golf.
There is an argument for Bobby Jones winning the Grand Slam in 1930 when the four majors consisted of the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open and British Amateur.
Ben Hogan won five of the six tournaments he played in 1953, three of them the only majors he could enter. Woods won nine times in 2000, including three straight majors, and broke Nelson's scoring record that had stood for 55 years.
'All are different for different reasons,' Woods said Wednesday when asked to rate the greatest season. 'But I have to say his feat, winning 11 in a row. I don't care that some of the guys were gone with the war and stuff. Winning 11 in a row ... do you realize how good you have to play?
'You're going to have one bad week in there, but his bad week he still won by probably, three, four, five shots?'
He was close.
Nelson won by at least two shots in the stroke-play tournaments he played that year.
On the 60-year anniversary of his record year, Lord Byron was honored Wednesday afternoon at the tournament that has carried his name for the last 38 years and, appropriately, has given more to charity than any other tour event.
He met briefly with reporters, and Nelson was asked if he ever thought that at age 93, he could look back at his 1945 season and see that no one had matched it. Hogan won 13 times the next year, while the closest anyone has ever come to his streak was Hogan (1948) and Woods (1999-2000), who each won six in a row.
Nelson smiled.
'I never thought about the fact I'd live to be 93,' he said as the room erupted in laughter.
He is still going strong, showing up at the Masters last month, driving out to the airport on Monday to greet U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, who is playing in the Byron Nelson Championship for the first time.
'He's sitting out there at the Champions Dinner telling stories, talking about 1931 like it was two days ago,' defending champion Sergio Garcia said. 'It's amazing.'
As for his season?
'I don't think anybody is going to ever achieve that again,' Garcia said. 'It's something out of this world.'
Asked about 1945, Nelson smiled and said, 'I can't remember.'
'Thank goodness,' he added, 'people don't let me forget.'
He only recalls that golf felt easy, not winning 11 in a row or beating the field by as many as 10 shots, but the fluid swing that always seemed to find the fairway.
'I didn't have to make great changes because I learned to grip the club correctly when I was 18, and I never changed that,' Nelson said. 'When I found something that worked, I never changed.'
Nelson only played to make enough money to build a ranch, and it was a meager sum by today's standards - $182,000 - roughly ninth-place money this week.
He often is asked how he would do against today's stars.
'I wouldn't go hungry,' Nelson said.
There is no shortage of stars at Las Colinas, the first time at a regular PGA Tour event that the top five in the world ranking - Woods, Singh, Els, Phil Mickelson and Goosen - are all in the field. The top four all are past champions at the Byron Nelson Championship.
Singh is coming off his third victory of the season last week at the Wachovia Championship, where he took advantage of a record-tying collapse by Garcia to win in a playoff. Mickelson showed signs of getting his game ready for the U.S. Open by closing with a 66 despite a double bogey-bogey finish.
Woods tied for 11th last week at Quail Hollow in his first tournament since winning the Masters.
Els also has three wins this year, all from afar. He won back-to-back in the Middle East (Dubai, Qatar), then two weeks ago recorded the largest winning margin of his career - 13 strokes - at the BMW Asian Open in China. Still, he is irritated that his game took a vacation at the Masters.
'I played some of the best golf I've played all year,' Els said. 'A month late, but that's one of those things.'
It shouldn't take Els long to feel as though he's back in the mix. The Big Easy plays the first two rounds with Singh, whom he called 'questionably the best player right now in the world.'
Singh has won twice the last three weeks, both in playoffs.
'He's found that little trick of beating the guys at the moment,' Els said. 'He just keeps on taking it over. If he's not winning, he's in playoff or very close. So, he's found that little magic. Who knows how long he's going to do it? Hopefully, not too long.'
Then again, no streak seems terribly long this week, not with so much focus on what Nelson did in 1945.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - EDS Byron Nelson Championship
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.