Ryan Palmer is all smiles about Byron Nelson celebrity golf tournament

Ryan Palmer finished fourth at the Valero Texas Open last month and 23rd last week at The Players Championship. He has made the cut in 11 consecutive tournaments this year.
Ryan Palmer finished fourth at the Valero Texas Open last month and 23rd last week at The Players Championship. He has made the cut in 11 consecutive tournaments this year. AP

The children’s charity that Ryan Palmer established in his hometown of Amarillo is adding the Metroplex to its mission.

It also has a new name: the Brighter Smiles Initiative. The mission is to provide dental work to deserving children whose family lacks the financial means.

“We’ve done around 26 kids in the area back where I grew up,” said Palmer, a Colleyville resident who’s playing in this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson Championship.

“These are kids who don’t have the self-esteem to look themselves in the mirror, or have the confidence to go to school and be happy,” Palmer said. “And we’re able to provide these kids with the necessary dental work.”

To promote the charity’s North Texas expansion, Palmer is hosting the United Rentals Battle at the Byron celebrity tournament Monday at Cottonwood Valley Country Club, which is across MacArthur Boulevard from the Nelson’s Four Seasons Resort and Club at Las Colinas. The event begins at 10 a.m., and is open to the public.

Palmer said Monday’s field includes Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, David Toms, Matt Jones, Boo Weekley and Charley Hoffman.

“We’ve got a good group,” Palmer said. “I’ve been able to help their causes as well in their cities, so it’s nice when you can have good friends like that that are willing to give their time.”

Palmer credits his wife Jennifer, a dentist, with the idea for Brighter Smiles Initiative.

“Not practicing at the moment, but she keeps her license,” Palmer said. “She finished dental school in 2002 and you know, five, six years ago we were trying to figure out what we want to do with our foundation and that was brought up.

“Every kid needs some dental work done and you want to send kids to school being confident, like they have some self-worth with their appearance. It’s nice to be able to give these kids that feeling.”

At the Nelson, Palmer has made five consecutive cuts, with a second-place finish in 2011. So far in 2016, he’s cashed a check in all 11 tournaments he’s entered.

Palmer tied for fourth at the Valero Texas Open last month, and tied for 23rd last week at The Players Championship.

“San Antonio was huge for me, playing well at the Valero,” he said. “So, last week was good. Didn’t play my best, but still having a solid week. With these two weeks here, I figure my game is coming into form.”

Knost knows

Colt Knost, from SMU and Pilot Point High School, is making his 10th career start at the Nelson.

“I remember playing in the Byron Nelson Junior growing up and meeting Mr. Nelson and coming out here and watching the guys when I was growing up,” said Knost, who shot a second-round 64 as an amateur from SMU in 2007. “It’s always just been a favorite tournament of mine and it means so much to play at home in front of my family and friends.”

Last year’s 10th-place finish was Knost’s best at the Nelson. He’s staying at Jordan Spieth’s home this week because he moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., last month to work with short-game coach Gabriel Hjertstedt.

Knost said Spieth’s home has a TV every three feet.

“Except in the bedroom I’m staying in. It’s pretty amazing. We changed that pretty quickly, though,” he said. “I’ll always call Dallas home and come here, my mom is here, my coach, Randy Smith [Royal Oaks Country Club], is here. This will always be home for me. This is just an experiment to see if I can take my game to the next level.”

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