Golf

Byron Nelson, Colonial officials seek sunnier skies at 2016 PGA Tour events

Steven Bowditch is the defending champion at the Byron Nelson golf tournament, which begins Thursday in Irving.
Steven Bowditch is the defending champion at the Byron Nelson golf tournament, which begins Thursday in Irving. AP

The PGA Tour’s two-week trek through Dallas-Fort Worth begins this week, moving the “Metroplex Majors” to the forefront of the local sports calendar.

As in most seasons, the events will be played in consecutive weeks on the May calendar with the traditional running order back in place. Golfers will stop first in Irving for the AT&T Byron Nelson, which begins Thursday at the Four Seasons Resort, then carry on to Fort Worth for the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, May 23-29 at Colonial Country Club.

Last year’s water-logged journey through DFW began in Fort Worth and ended in Irving, where Nelson tournament officials recorded 9.85 inches of rain at the TPC Las Colinas layout during those two weeks and were forced to tweak the par value of one hole to complete the event.

Dallas' Jordan Spieth receives a loud ovation as he begins his quest to win the 2015 AT&T Byron Nelson.

Because of flooding on the fairway at the 14th hole, the 406-yard par-4 was converted to a par-3 during the 2015 tournament, making the course play as a par-69 venue.

Dallas resident Steven Bowditch took advantage of the soft greens, firing an 18-under-par total that established a tournament scoring record of 259. Bowditch, a native of Australia, became the Nelson’s first wire-to-wire winner since Tom Watson in 1980.

Bowditch, 32, will be back to defend his title at this week’s $7.3 million event, and he’ll be joined by a cast of contenders headed by Jordan Spieth — a Dallas resident who is the reigning U.S. Open champion. Spieth, 22, is the No. 2 player in the world golf rankings.

Dustin Johnson, the No. 8 player in the rankings, also is headed to Irving, where PGA Tour officials are hoping for significantly less rainfall during this year’s DFW doubleheader.

Fans at the Nelson will be able to test the skies first at a tournament named for the late golf legend from Roanoke, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame who learned the game while working as a teenaged caddie at Glen Garden Country Club in Fort Worth.

The defending champ

Bowditch established a tournament scoring record at last year’s AT&T Byron Nelson. He finished with a 259 total, which was 18 under during tournament week because of the flexible par value assigned to No. 14.

The lowest total in relation to par in Nelson tournament history (19 under, 261 total) remains in possession of Fort Worth resident Rory Sabbatini, who won the event in 2009.

But the tournament scoring record belongs to Bowditch, who married his wife, Amanda, on Sept. 10, 2011 at the same resort where he won last year’s Nelson title by four strokes to secure the second PGA Tour title of his career. His other triumph came at the 2014 Texas Open in San Antonio.

On accepting the Nelson trophy at the 18th green: It was a pretty surreal feeling because that’s a very special place for myself and my wife. It’s a really fantastic feeling to have wedding pictures down the 18th green and pictures with the trophy. Taking photos [last May] was definitely the second best time I’ve had on that green since we got married.

On being treated for depression after surviving only two of 22 cuts on the 2006 PGA Tour: My personal life, it’s a closed door. But it’s built me into the person I am today.

On winning two tour stops in Texas, his adopted home state, as a native Australian: I’ve been here for 12 years now. I love playing in Texas. The weather and the golf courses are very similar to where I grew up. It’s pretty windy in both places, so that’s been a big benefit when the wind kicks up at tournaments in Texas. I’m accustomed to it, so I think that is a little bit of an advantage for Australians when we have windy, firm conditions in Texas. It’s just the way we grew up.

On the up-and-down nature of his career, which includes six missed cuts in his past eight events on the 2016 PGA Tour: It’s basically the way my career has been my whole life. When it’s good, it’s good. And when it’s not, I’m just trying to hang on and make some cuts and get better. It’s the game of golf. I’m obviously not at the superstar level.

Dallas resident Jordan Spieth, the U.S. Open champ and No. 2 player in the world golf rankings, discusses his plans to make the most of his Olympic experience this summer in Rio. Video by Jimmy Burch.

DFW double dippers

Through the years, 15 golfers have won both DFW tournaments in their PGA Tour careers. The most recent player to turn the trick was Adam Scott, with his 2014 win at Colonial. Dallas winners include champions at both the Byron Nelson and Dallas Open, the event’s former name. All Fort Worth titles came at Colonial:

 

Golfer

Dallas title(s)

Fort Worth title(s)

Adam Scott

2008

2014

Rory Sabbatini

2009

2007

Sergio Garcia

2004

2001

Phil Mickelson

1996

2000, ’08

Nick Price

1991

1994, 2002

Bruce Lietzke

1981, ’88

1980, ’92

Ben Crenshaw

1983

1977, ’90

Tom Watson

1975, ’78-80

1998

Lanny Wadkins

1973

1989

Jack Nicklaus

1970-71

1982

Bruce Devlin

1969

1966

Roberto De Vicenzo

1966

1957

Julius Boros

1959

1960, ’63

Sam Snead

1945, ’57-58

1950

Ben Hogan

1946

1946-47, ’52, ’53, ’59

Note: In 1946, Ben Hogan became the only golfer to win both DFW events in the same season. He won the 1946 Colonial in May and the 1946 Dallas Open in September.

Nelson’s career

A look at significant numbers posted by Byron Nelson, the tournament namesake, as a Hall of Fame golfer during his professional career:

 

2 Seasons as the leading money winner on PGA Tour (1944, 1945)

4 Ryder Cup appearances (1937, 1939, 1941, 1947)

11 Consecutive victories during the 1945 season, a PGA Tour record

18 Victories during the 1945 season, a PGA Tour season record

52 Career victories at PGA Tour events, including five major championships

65 Consecutive top-10 finishes at PGA Tour events (1942-46), a tour record

68.33 Scoring average in 1945, a PGA Tour record that stood for 55 years

 

Tournament rounds

Thursday-Sunday, TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas (Par 70, 7,166 yards), Irving

Purse: $7.3 million

Winner’s share: $1,314,000

Defending champion: Steven Bowditch

TV: Thursday-Friday, 2-5 p.m., Golf; Saturday-Sunday, 2-5 p.m., KTVT/11

Tickets, more info: attbyronnelson.org

 

Year

Champion

Total

to Par

2015

Steven Bowditch

259

18-under

2014

Brendon Todd

266

14-under

2013

Sang-Moon Bae

267

13-under

2012

Jason Dufner

269

11-under

2011

Keegan Bradley

277

3-under

2010

Jason Day

270

10-under

2009

Rory Sabbatini

261

19-under

2008

Adam Scott

273

7-under

2007

Scott Verplank

267

13-under

2006

Brett Wetterich

268

12-under

2005

Ted Purdy

265

15-under

2004

Sergio Garcia

270

10-under

2003

Vijay Singh

265

15-under

2002

Shigeki Maruyama

266

14-under

2001

Robert Damron

263

17-under

2000

Jesper Parnevik

269

11-under

1999

Loren Roberts

262

18-under

1998

John Cook

265

15-under

1997

Tiger Woods

263

17-under

1996

Phil Mickelson

265

15-under

1995

Ernie Els

263

17-under

1994

Neal Lancaster

132

*9-under

1993

Scott Simpson

270

10-under

1992

Billy Ray Brown

199

**11-under

1991

Nick Price

270

10-under

1990

Payne Stewart

202

**8-under

1989

Jodie Mudd

265

15-under

1988

Bruce Lietzke

271

9-under

1987

Fred Couples

266

14-under

1986

Andy Bean

269

11-under

1985

Bob Eastwood

272

12-under

1984

Craig Stadler

276

8-under

1983

Ben Crenshaw

273

11-under

1982

Bob Gilder

266

14-under

1981

Bruce Lietzke

281

1-over

1980

Tom Watson

274

6-under

1979

Tom Watson

275

5-under

1978

Tom Watson

272

8-under

1977

Raymond Floyd

276

8-under

1976

Mark Hayes

273

11-under

1975

Tom Watson

269

15-under

1974

Brian Allin

269

15-under

1973

Lanny Wadkins

277

3-under

1972

Chi Chi Rodriguez

273

7-under

1971

Jack Nicklaus

274

6-under

1970

Jack Nicklaus

274

6-under

1969

Bruce Devlin

277

3-under

1968

Miller Barber

270

10-under

Note: *-rain-shortened to 36 holes. **-rain-shortened to 54 holes. The tournament started in 1944 as the Dallas Open and was renamed in honor of Byron Nelson in 1968.

AT&T Byron Nelson

Thursday-Sunday, TPC Las Colinas, Irving

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