Billy Horschel won the final AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Four Seasons in Las Colinas. In a move that felt like a nod from the golfing gods, DFW sports fans were treated to extra golf as Horschel's win came in a playoff over 2010 Nelson champ and former world No. 1, Jason Day.
“To the fans, thank you for cheering me on as much as you did,” Horschel said. “This is truly a special event. The fans come out and you all look very beautiful as well, some more so than others, ha-ha, but it is a great event and it gets raucous out there and you can feel the energy out there the last few holes … It's sad that we are going to be leaving here, but there’s so many great memories and I'm happy to be the last champion.”
It was a fittingly great week to wrap up the 35 years in Las Colinas and we bounced around the Four Seasons property and chatted with Sports Club members, saw the popular roving cigar sales guy and, of course, dropped by the hottest spot in DFW this week, the 17th hole.
Great scene at No. 17
The 17th hole on TPC Four Seasons has essentially passed the Pavilion as the place to see and be seen during AT&T Byron Nelson the past few years.
“This is my first time to come to the Byron Nelson and honestly, it has been so much fun,” said Raegan, one of the close to 80,000 fans in attendance on Saturday in Las Colinas. “I can't believe how many people are here!”
There were a few occasions where the caddies actually played along and did the Caddy Races, causing the thousands of fans to cheer like they were at a football game.
The biggest highlight of the weekend at No. 17 was on Saturday when eventual runner-up Day drained a 60-foot putt from across the green and the roar of the crowd was heard throughout the city of Irving.
Sports Club members on the Nelson's final day
As the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson will take place at the Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas, some attendees were more than a little downcast about leaving the Four Seasons.
“I'm very disappointed. This is an excellent venue for golf for the fans, players and members,” said 27-year Sports Club member Reid Baker. “They've done an excellent job with the event for, in my case 27 years of being here and I'm sorry to see it go. I'm going to miss it.”
Those emotions were consistent with the members we spoke with including Rocco and Judy Macri (members for 28 years) and Jim and Nancy Sido (members for 21 years).
“Today is nostalgic and I'll miss it,” Judy Macri said. “This was the time that the whole club came together to honor one person. We all admired Byron and what he stood for, so it's very bittersweet, I think that's the word I keep hearing from everyone and I think the majority of the members are sad to see it go away. After losing the Cowboys, it's really sad for the city of Irving.”
The Macris have been a big part of this week for close to 30 years.
“We've lived here for 28 years, 12 at Cottonwood Valley and 16 over here on TPC,” Rocco Macri said. “We've always had the parties at our house by the 17 green and I got so excited about throwing the parties that I bought a pizza oven just for the Sundays of tournament week. Our guy would make over 150 pizzas every year. People enjoyed it so much and we got a kick out of it. Someone once asked me how many people came to our house for the Nelson and I told them 225-250 and I even know a few of them.”
Jim Sido's favorite Nelson memory was from watching Tiger Woods playing out on Cottonwood Valley.
“He was on No. 10, and I'm standing by the ball on the cart path to the right of the fairway,” he said. “There was a small hole between the trees that I told the guys around me that I thought he'd go for and they all thought he would lay up. Sure enough, he hit it off the concrete, through that opening on on the green and the next day in the paper, there's that picture of him on No. 10 with me standing right behind him.”
Diane Butler is in her 15th year of being a member at the Sports Club.
“The tournament being here was certainly a deciding factor in us joining here 15 years ago,” she said. “Then history behind the Byron Nelson was a big plus and I really couldn't believe it was leaving. I've been a part of this tournament for so many years and it's just sad to see it go. The facility here is world class and I don't know that there is a better facility in terms of putting on a golf event with this hospitality that this place has, it's amazing.”
Cigars available on the course
If you were out near No. 16, 17 or 18, in the Pavilion or near the Travis Matthews bus by the No. 1 tee box, odds are you spotted the guy wearing a caddy bib and selling cigars.
That guy was Charlie Jordan, a Four Seasons employee who was working his 12th Nelson.
“My job this week was to walk around the tournament and make sure that anyone who wanted a cigar was set,” Jordan said. “I have Monte Cristos, Arturo Fuentes, Romeo Y Julietas and Rocky Patels. Last year, we had a stationary spot and sold 43 for the whole tournament. I pitched the idea of roaming around and selling the cigars and we are over 200 with Sunday still to go.”
2017 Byron Nelson attendance
Official attendance for the week of the 35th and final Nelson at the Four Seasons was 280,000 people.
In spite of the final round's rain delay, the highest attended day was Sunday's 79,500, followed by 78,000 on Saturday and 41,000 on Friday.