This weekend the PGA Tour shifts to Dallas for the Byron Nelson. The tournament began in 1944 and was renamed in 1968 for the legendary five-time major championship winner.
Nelson, who died in 2006, won 11 consecutive tournaments and 18 total in 1945, a record that will probably last forever. These feats are similar to the 56-game hitting streak in 1941 of Joe DiMaggio and the 142 consecutive cuts made by Tiger Woods from 1998-2005.
In a sort of irony, it was at this tournament where Woods’ cuts-made streak came to an end. He has not played in this event since.
The prime of Nelson’s career was in and around 1945, the final year of World War II. In the early 1940s, there were 14 major championships canceled because of the war. How many may he have won had there been no conflict? That question is impossible to answer, but it’s safe to say Nelson was deprived of more majors in the prime of his career.
Nelson won every major except the British Open, which he participated in just twice, his best being a fifth-place finish in 1937.
As for this tournament, the Nelson was moved from TPC Las Colinas last year to Trinity Forest Golf Club, a Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw-designed layout. The course is links style and virtually treeless.
In recent years this tournament has been the first Tour win for a number of players who have gone on to distinguish themselves, including Jason Day and Keegan Bradley, both now major champions. Last year’s winner was eventual Rookie of the Year Aaron Wise.
The Nelson immediately precedes next weekend’s PGA Championship, and consequently the field won’t have much of the star power it’s had in the past. It will, however, guarantee a spot in the PGA for the winner and an invitation to next year’s Masters Tournament, so there is a lot to play for.
One player worth considering is the long-hitting Keith Mitchell, whose debut in last year’s Nelson resulted in a tie for third. The University of Georgia product, who captured the Honda Classic earlier this year, closed last year’s Nelson with a 63. Though he has been a bit erratic in his short but promising career, Mitchell is worth a look at +2700.
Another intriguing entrant is Lucas Bjerregaard, who is listed at +6400. Bjerregaard, from Denmark, is ranked 42nd in the world. He came to note recently when he defeated Woods in the WGC Match Play quarterfinals.
Also entered is former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who received a sponsor’s exemption. He played at the PGA Tour stop in the Dominican Republic earlier this year and missed the cut.