Golf

Defending Byron Nelson champ Bowditch recalls last year’s special win

Steven Bowditch is the defending champion at the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament.
Steven Bowditch is the defending champion at the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament. AP

Seeking to avoid becoming the PGA Tour’s equivalent of a one-hit wonder, Steven Bowditch maintains he found a different way to win last year’s AT&T Byron Nelson Championship.

His short game led to first place at the 2014 Valero Texas Open in San Antonio “then at Byron Nelson I won with my ball-striking,” Bowditch said at Thursday’s kickoff luncheon. “So to be able to win two ways is definitely a confidence-builder. It’s nice knowing the team I have around me is doing the right stuff.”

This year’s Nelson is May 19-22 at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving. Early commitments include world-ranked No. 1 Jordan Spieth, No. 3 and reigning PGA champion Jason Day, as well as Matt Kuchar, Jimmy Walker, Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner.

The first one’s always special. But to be able to win in your hometown in front of all your friends and family, it’s definitely something that will be with us forever.

Steven Bowditch

Thursday’s event was at the Momentous Institute, an elementary school and family services facility supported by proceeds from the Nelson.

“The first one’s always special,” said Bowditch, an Australian who has lived in North Texas since 2006. “But to be able to win in your hometown in front of all your friends and family, it’s definitely something that will be with us forever. I’m an Australian Texan now.”

Winning the Nelson led to a No. 20 FedEx Cup ranking by season’s end, 39 places better than 2014.

“That allowed me to play in every golf tournament,” Bowditch said. “Now to be able to play in my first U.S. Open, my second Masters, to be able to play the Open Championship at St. Andrews. To have all these extras that come with winning, it really kick-starts your career.”

So far, 2016 has been mostly a kick in the pants.

He’s No. 142 on the FedEx list, with one top-10 finish. Six of his last eight round have been in the 80s, including a 37-over par 81-80-80-84 two weeks ago at the WGC Cadillac Championship in Florida.

You sort of lock yourself in your room after you shoot 80. Just sitting here today, just seeing what underprivileged kids go through, golf’s not that big a deal. There’s bad days, bad weeks, bad months. Hopefully they’re shorter than they are longer.

Steven Bowditch

Bowditch said he attempted to play through tendinitis in his left wrist for about a month, but still remains positive.

“You sort of lock yourself in your room after you shoot 80,” he added. “Just sitting here today, just seeing what underprivileged kids go through, golf’s not that big a deal. There’s bad days, bad weeks, bad months. Hopefully they’re shorter than they are longer.”

Momentous Institute officials said Thursday that Bowditch and his wife Amanda made a $50,000 donation for a library and technology space upgrade, and a putting green.

“What they have given me, and I can give back, it’s a great circle,” Bowditch said.

Eric Zarate: 817-390-7237, @zarate_eric

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