Byron Nelson Championship Past Winners and History
One of just two PGA Tour tournaments named after a former player (the other, of course, is the Arnold Palmer), the HP Byron Nelson Championship is the ninth longest running active tournament on the PGA Tour schedule.
The tournament has its earliest origins in 1926 as the Dallas Open, won by MacDonald Smith. It then went on hiatus until 1944 when it reemerged as the Texas Victory Open. That tournament was played at Dallas’ Lakewood Country Club and was won by none other than Byron Nelson. The 1945 event was played at the Dallas Country Club, and was won by Sam Snead. Ben Hogan won at the Brook Hollow Golf Club in 1946. The longtime hosts of the tournament is the Salesmanship Club of Dallas and benefits the Salesman Club Youth and Family Centers.
No tournaments were held form 1946 until 1956, when two events were held in the same year . From 1958 - 1967, it was played at the Oak Cliff Country Club. In 1968, the Dallas Open Invitational was renamed The Byron Nelson Classic. It’s held that name—albeit with different title sponsors—ever since. The event currently is contested at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas.
For many years, Byron Nelson was a very real presence at his namesake tournament. Even in his final years—well into his 90s—Nelson could be seen in a pavilion overlooking the eighteenth green and greeting players as they finished.
Nelson, who had a reputation as one of the game’s true gentlemen, also has lent his name to two prizes which are awarded at the Byron Nelson Championship. The Byron Nelson Prize is awarded annually to a person or organization who “exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship, integrity and philanthropy that Byron Nelson personified.” It carries a $100,000 contribution to the recipient’s favorite charity. The 2010 winner is Tom Watson. Past recipients were Tom Lehman, Arnold Palmer and Ken Venturi.
In addition, the Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Awards” recognize the achievements of junior golfers around the world who distinguish themselves with a high level of junior tournament play as well as excellence in academics, exceptional character and a commitment to community service.”
Both are fitting tributes to a man who was a giant in the sport. A quote from Nelson about the tournament says a lot about the man:
This tournament is the best thing that’s ever happened to me in golf. Better than winning the Masters or the US Open or eleven in a row. Because it helps people”
The Official Tournament website has the final word on Nelson’s legacy:
Byron Nelson’s accomplishments as a professional golfer were as impressive as his golf swing.
There is a reason why he was the first PGA professional golfer to have a PGA TOUR tournament named in his honor. Mr. Nelson won 54 career victories, including winning two Masters (1937 and 1942), two PGA Championships (1940 and 1945), and the U.S. Open (1939). He is one of only two golfers to be named “Male Athlete of the Year” twice by the Associated Press, and the World Golf Hall of Fame honored Byron Nelson in 2004 by featuring an exhibit entitled “Byron Nelson: A Champion…A Gentleman.”
While Mr. Nelson obtained the status as a world-class athlete, it was his humanitarian efforts that were truly first class. He was a champion for the underprivileged and gave his time, talents, and funds to make this a better world. Byron Nelson and the HP Byron Nelson Championship have raised more than $112 million for the Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers, a nonprofit agency that provides education and mental health services for more than 7,000 children and their families in the greater Dallas area. Additionally, the Byron and Louise Nelson Golf Endowment Fund had provided over $1.5 million in endowment funds to Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. Another example of his service was his dedication to the Metroport Meals on Wheels which provides daily, home-delivered, hot lunch for the frail, elderly and chronically ill residents. Byron Nelson was an active honorary chairman since 1992.
A list of past winners of the Byron Nelson Championship follows:
|HP Byron Nelson Championship|
|EDS Byron Nelson Championship|
|Verizon Byron Nelson Classic|
|GTE Byron nelson Classic|
|GTE Byron Nelson Golf Classic|
|1992||Billy Ray Brown|
|Byron Nelson Golf Classic|
|1972||Chi Chi Rodriguez|
|Dallas Open Invitational|
|1966||Roberto De Vicenzo|
|Texas International Open|
|1956||Peter Thompson (June, two tournaments held in same year)|
|Dallas Centennial Open|
|1956||Don January (May, two tournaments were held in same year)|
|Texas Victory Open|
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