Legacy of a Gentle Man

By David Marr IiiOctober 1, 2006, 4:00 pm
Forgive me. My favorite memories in this game often involve my father in some way. My recollections of and stories about Byron Nelson are no exception. If you were a golfer, Byron Nelson cared about you. Male or female, amateur or professional, if you embraced the game, he embraced you. If you were a Texan, that embrace was a little warmer.
 
My father was 14 when he lost his dad. Dave Marr, Sr. was a golf professional in Texas and his friends did their best to look after the boy. Gradually Dave, Jr. was introduced to more people in the Texas golf community, and at some point that included Byron. Whether he sensed Dads need, or just liked the young Texas scrapper, Bryon shared his kindness with the new pro with encouraging words and a protective eye. Later he would become an important figure in the two crowning moments of my dads playing career.
 
Twenty years removed from that glorious 1945 season, Byron was a television commentator for ABC Sports covering the PGA Championship. Now in his 50s, the gentleman called the gentlemans game like it should be: politely, honestly, and with dignity and grace. Sunday August 15th , with his pregnant wife at home about to give birth and Nicklaus and Casper charging hard, Dave Marr, Jr. was trying to win the PGA Championship. Only one other son of a PGA Professional had won the Championship, his cousin Jack Burke, Jr.
 
The 18th hole at Laurel Valley had an elevated green and players couldnt see how close their approach shots would finish. On Sunday, Dad drove into a fairway bunker and had to lay up short of a lake protecting that elevated green. With a 9-iron in hand all he needed to do was to hit the green, two-putt and sign the back of the winners check; but as with all of us, worst case scenarios swirled in the dark places that feed on a players uncertainty. He hit the shot exactly how he wanted and listened to the gallerys reaction. He suspected that hed be able to two-putt, but it wasnt until he looked up at the broadcast tower to find Byron, the kindly Texas Gentleman Golfer hanging out of the tower with a wide smile and his hands 3 feet apart, that Dad realized he had knocked it stiff and won his fathers championship.
 
That autumn, the man who had gleefully served as forecaddie for that final approach shot now assumed the duties of captain for the 1965 United States Ryder Cup Team. Byrons team was strong and my father was probably the least experienced player on the squad. Sensing Dads nerves, Byron paired him with Arnold Palmer for the second match out, but the pressure was overwhelming. After losing, 6 and 5, Dad felt that he had let Arnold, Byron, the team, and his country down. He wasnt able to eat at lunch, listening to the voices murmuring from those dark places. Byron came to Dads table and asked Arnold who he would like to play with in the afternoon match. Arnold looked up, pointed to my father and said, Ive got my partner. Bryon smiled and said, I was hoping youd say that.
 
Those two kind and generous displays of faith boosted my dads spirits. Dad would go on to win four of his next five matches and consider that week to be the pinnacle of his playing career. As a thank you to the gentleman captain, my mother and Winnie Palmer sought out a trophy maker in the town of Southport, England, and in a matter of days commissioned a replica of the Ryder Cup made for Byron. It is a tradition that still stands today.
 
Dad followed Byron into that ABC broadcast booth and served as lead analyst there for 22 years, calling the gentlemans game as he should have: politely, honestly, and with dignity and grace. After he passed away in 1997, my brother and I went to Augusta to spread his ashes. One day that week we ran into Byron in the clubhouse and introduced ourselves. Byron excused himself from the group of members, players and dignitaries to share his kindness with us, spending 10 minutes telling us about our pop, what a great player he was, and what a great guy he was. He told us how happy he was to captain Dads team, and how Dad always did things right. He said all the things two boys struggling with the loss of their hero needed to hear.
 
Later years I would see him at Augusta, on the first tee or at the Par-3 Tournament. Ever gracious, mentioning my dad or something he had seen me do on the channel, I would leave him with a smile on my face, always feeling better for having seen him. I believe the measure of a successful life is leaving the world a better place than you found it. In my opinion, Byron Nelsons legacy is reversed: 18 wins in a year and 11 in a row are the footnotes to a lifelong story of honesty, dignity, grace, and above all, kindness.
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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.