Past champions, players and staff members recount their best memories and favorite things about the Byron Nelson Championship at the TPC Four Seasons
Compiled by Art Stricklin
Ernie Els (1995 Champion)
It’s sad they’re leaving, but the best memory I have came when I was the reigning U.S. Open winner in 1995 and I did a golf clinic with Byron Nelson on the (Four Seasons) hotel driving range. I would hit a shot and then he would hit a shot, I would hit one and he would hit one. I’ll never forget doing a clinic with Mr. Nelson just hitting shots back and forth.
Adam Scott (2008 Champion)
That was certainly one of the biggest putts I will ever make to win on 18 with all the fans and the water on the left. That was certainly a dramatic hole. It was incredible and very exciting. Although I don’t think I still have that sweater (I was wearing) in my closet, that was pretty snazzy too.
It was, I think, only my second professional tournament, the first made cut, you’re never going to forget that. Walking off the 18th green at Las Colinas and climbing those metal steps up to the scoring booth and there was Byron Nelson with his hand out to shake mine. I just made my first cut as a pro and Byron Nelson wants to shake my hand, I will never forget that.
For a hometown event (living in Colleyville) I haven’t had a lot of great memories, but I do have one I will always remember. The year I lost to Keegan (Bradley) I was trailing by one shot going to the 18th hole, which is a great finishing hole with a ton of fans and water on the left side. For my approach shot, I hit a 106-yard pitching wedge into a fierce cross wind that just split the distance and rolled to within 6-8 feet and I made the putt for a birdie to force the playoff. It was just an unbelievable moment in front of a lot of family and friends.
It also seemed to come along just about the same time as my birthday, so I didn’t play there very many times as I wanted to. I would go just to listen to stories from Byron Nelson. He told me about being Ryder Cup captain and about being the PGA Champion. That was just incredible that he was a part of that event.
I wanted to go there because of all the stories my dad had told me about meeting Mr. Nelson and how nice he was to everyone. He told me some great stories. When I finally got to play in the tournament, I had the chance to meet him and he knew all about my dad and my uncle (Bob Golby) and was just as nice to me. I’m one of the few players I think who enjoyed it more before they made the (course) changes than afterwards.
Jason Day (2010 Champion)
I remember the water on the left on 18 and I was really down on myself because I had blown a big lead and I came to 18 at the Las Colinas and hit my tee shot and it looked to be very negative, but it turned out to be positive. It’s funny the way things work out. Somehow, it worked out from a bad tee shot and I got the win. I’m certainly not going to forget that.
Jason Dufner (2012 Champion)
To win a tournament with his (Byron Nelson’s) name on it is a great memory. Making a 20-footer on the last hole with that huge crowd, there is something I won’t ever forget either in my career. I hope that they will keep part of the history at the new venue, maybe they will be able to do something with the statue of Mr. Nelson at the new site. We don’t have many of those tournaments associated with the legends any longer. Unfortunately, it’s also the birthplace of “Dufnering.” That will never go away either.
That was a killer hotel. I can’t believe they’re moving. I loved going to Dallas and playing there and loved being at that hotel. I’m sorry to see them go.
I loved the hotel as my wife and I have played tennis there and the kids have gone swimming and had a great time. The setup is tremendous, and we don’t get that everywhere on the tour, it’s just a fun place to hang. I have really grown to enjoy the golf course. It has two to three of the favorite holes we play on Tour all year long. The fourth hole, the 15th hole, the short par 4, even the fifth which is awesome, back to back on the front nine.
I have so many memories from the Byron Nelson, it’s hard to pick out just one or two. I guess when my dad got our car towed away when he parked somewhere he shouldn’t have. That was always a funny one for our family and of course I had my first pro start there while in high school. There were so many people there it was amazing. I felt like I could do what I wanted to do for a living. I love going there, I just have one more chance to get a win this year.
Jon Drago, AT&T Byron Nelson Tournament Director
My favorite memories are the things that most people never see. The way we all work together to get something done. It’s how the team all works together to solve a problem, change direction when needed, or work through an unexpected situation. And then nobody even knows it was ever an issue. But from the event itself, one of my favorite memories has to be the way we paid tribute to Mr. Nelson in 2007 in our first tournament after his passing. My favorite of all the tributes that year was when we suspended play during the third round for a moment of silence for Mr. Nelson, which ended with a flyover by four Navy F/18 fighter jets. It was a great way to celebrate the life and legacy of such a great man.
Paul Earnest, PGA Director of Golf, Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas
My favorite moment was always sitting with Byron on either the first tee or the 18th green. He was truly a golf fan, like the rest, but his view of their play and the calmness when they were greeting him created special moments for these players. He made people feel so at ease with personal comments about their recent play, families or just in his appreciation of them coming to play. His charm resonates within many of us today as we do our best to keep his spirit alive for all golfers to appreciate.
Martin Oribhabor, Locker Room Attendant (since 1985)
1992 – Nick Price, originally from Zimbabwe, was on the leader board heading into Saturday of the tournament. When I saw Nick, I told him that I was also from Africa (Nigeria) and that we should do a good luck dance together from our culture. We did this dance each time we saw each other in the locker room. Nick went on to win the tournament that Sunday, and we have stayed friends after all these years.
Gloria Teer, Four Seasons Credit Manager (has been at Four Seasons for all 35 tournaments)
“I remember one awesome moment a few years back – right before Byron Nelson tournament week began, the children from the Oak Cliff School the Salesmanship sponsors through the Byron Nelson contributions – came to sing to the Four Seasons management team. It was the sweetest time and a wonderful reminder of what our hard work goes towards.
Buck Raines, Four Seasons Director of Facilities (has been at Four Seasons for all 35 tournaments)
1983 – We had just opened the Sports Club in April of 1983, and the tournament moved here from Preston Trails. Mr. Carpenter agreed to move them because Preston Trails couldn’t take them. Mr. Carpenter was going to build the hotel first then Club, but reversed the plans so we could accommodate the first tournament here in Las Colinas.