It is time for the Metroplex Majors to be front and center on the Dallas-Fort Worth sports calendar.
The PGA Tour begins its two-week trek through DFW, with stops at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Irving (Monday-Sunday) and the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, May 19-25 in Fort Worth.
Golfers begin competing for $6.9 million in prize money in Thursday’s opening round of the Nelson. The Colonial purse will be $6.4 million, with both winners in DFW guaranteed of checks in excess of $1.15 million.
Several high-profile competitors, including two players ranked among the top 10 in the world golf rankings (Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth), have committed to play in both events. This week’s action will unfold in Irving, where the list of Nelson headliners also includes Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel and Sang-Moon Bae, the defending champ.
The tournament, named for the late golf legend from Roanoke, is unique among PGA Tour stops and has contributed more than $132 million to local charities since its inception. That figure is tops among tour events.
Below is a blitz of Nelson-related information to get you prepared for the first leg of the PGA Tour’s two-week journey through DFW:
Keegan Bradley, Nelson course record-holder:
Keegan Bradley, the No. 20 player in the world golf rankings, heads into this week’s HP Byron Nelson Championship with two enviable entries on his list of accomplishments at Irving’s annual PGA Tour stop.
Bradley won the 2011 Nelson title in his first appearance at the Four Seasons Resort, a triumph that helped him earn 2011 Rookie of the Year honors from peers. Bradley also fired a 10-under-par 60 in last year’s opening round at the TPC layout, making him the course record-holder at the venue where golfers will convene for Thursday’s opening round of the $6.9 million event.
Bradley, 27, has finished first (2011), 24th (2012) and second (2013) in three appearances at the Nelson, making him a likely contender this week in Irving. Bradley, nephew of LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, has three career victories at PGA Tour events and heads to Irving with three top-10 finishes this season. He ranks No. 21 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Bradley began working in December with swing instructor Chuck Cook and said off-season tweaks incorporated into his game are starting to show meaningful results. Below is a look at Bradley in his own words:
Byron Nelson numbers
Byron Nelson, the late golf legend from Roanoke who is the tournament’s namesake, always will be synonymous with this event. Nelson died in 2006, at age 94, but many of his achievements remain eye-opening. His two most incredible PGA Tour records (most single-season wins, longest winning streak at tour events), set in 1945, still stand. Below are some defining digits in regard to Nelson’s golf career and the tournament that bears his name:
1 Victory by the tournament namesake in his own event, called the Texas Victory Open when he won in 1944. The event was renamed to honor Nelson in 1968.
2 Seasons as the leading money winner on PGA Tour (1944, 1945).
6 Tournament victories by 10 strokes or more by Nelson in his professional career.
9 Nelson’s highest score on any hole in PGA Tour competition. And it required three penalty strokes.
11 Consecutive victories during the 1945 season (and 18 total, both PGA Tour records).
21 Age of Tiger Woods, the youngest Nelson tournament champion, when he won in 1997.
44 Age of Scott Verplank, the oldest Nelson tournament champion, when he won in 2007.
60 Course record for the Nelson tournament course (TPC Las Colinas), set in last year’s opening round by Keegan Bradley.
62 Nelson’s lowest score in any round during his record-setting 1945 season.
70 Consecutive Top 10 finishes at PGA Tour events (1942-46) by Nelson, a tour record.
113 Consecutive tournaments where Nelson made the cut and earned money during the height of his career.
132 Million dollars contributed to local charities during the history of the Nelson tournament, the top total among PGA Tour events.