Bill Nichols

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Links to Legend

One thing that made legendary golfer Byron Nelson’s tournament unique was his personal touch. He traveled to other events to shake hands and recruit. He sent handwritten letters to players, offering congratulations for victories and condolences for losses.

As many as 60 players would come to his Fairway Ranch in Roanoke for Saturday afternoon cookouts in the late 1960s, and small groups visited every year until his death in September 2006.

In that spirit, Peggy Nelson is keeping the tradition going. Byron’s widow has sent letters to players inviting them to the ranch for a private picnic on Saturday of the May 26-29 HP Byron Nelson HP Byron Nelson Championship.

The rare recruiting enticement for the Memorial Day weekend event is sure to tempt players with kids: food, fishing and swimming in the two lakes (fully stocked), chipping and putting, tossing horseshoes, tours of the ranch, where the legend’s woodworking shop and some golf memorabilia can be seen, and “as many Byron stories as you care to hear,” Peggy said. 

“It was a unique idea by Jon Drago, and I just ran with it,” she said, crediting the tournament director. “I thought it would be really fun for the players and their kids to come out and see what Byron was about. I’ve always had so much fun giving people tours of the ranch because there’s so much to see.”

Nelson commitments grow: The Nelson has received commitments from Colleyville residents Hunter Mahan and Greg Chalmers, Westlake’s Brandt Jobe , Australian Stuart Appleby , power hitter Gary Woodland, ranked third in the FedExCup standings, Vaughn Taylor, J.P. Hayes , Arjun Atwal and Michael Bradley.

Familiar pairing: Tiger Woods and Southlake’s K.J. Choi have played together in five of their last eight rounds at the Masters. They were in the same group all four days in 2010, and shot almost identical scores to finish tied for fourth. They played together in the third round last week. Choi finished the tournament with the same score as last year — 8-under 280 — but tied for eighth. Woods shaved two strokes off his 2010 total (278) and tied for fourth again.

Is Woods back?
Tiger Woods has convinced some oddsmakers his game is coming together. Here are the early odds on the U.S. Open, which will be at Congressional CC in Bethesda, Md., from the online sportsbook, Bodog:

Tiger Woods 

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