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Nelson Centennial Gains Momentum

While a certain ill-fated ocean liner has gotten waves of publicity for its 100th birthday this year, North Texas golf honors a far more famous and successful twosome, golfers Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan, both of whom would be celebrating their century mark this year.

While Fort Worth’s Colonial tournament, where Hogan won five times and its Colonial Country Club course is known as “Hogan’s Alley,” is planning a small remembrance, the Byron Nelson Championship is planning a full-blown celebration. They will go all out to honor its tournament namesake, who passed away in 2006, but was intimately involved in every detail of the tournament when he was alive.

Among the many celebrations planned to honor Nelson’s 100th at this year’s event:•Special section in the tournament program
•Social media campaign for the 100 days leading up to the tournament (100 facts about Byron)
•”Byron pose” social media campaign (“Do the Byron”) engaging spectators throughout the country
•Tribute to Byron Nelson featuring memorabilia, rare photographs, and interactive touch-screen video in the HP Tech Zone
•Byron Nelson facts on every tee at the TPC Four Seasons Tournament. course
•Awards to perpetuate his legacy through the Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Awards and the Byron Nelson Prize
•Volunteers will wear a pin paying tribute to Byron’s 100th

“We’ve certainly been stressing that to the PGA Tour players and fans and I think that they have been responding to that,” tournament director Jon Drago said.

The celebration kicked off in earnest when PGA Tour player Ricky Barnes hit balls off the roof of the host Four Seasons Resort last Monday followed by the annual Byron Nelson preview at the tournament site Tuesday.

North Texas golf fans may get some of the biggest presents this year as this year’s Nelson field is shaping up to be one of the best recently as today’s top pro players are lining up to honor one of golf’s all-time legends.

Already committed to play May 17-20 in Irving are Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Adam Scott, all former Nelson winners, along with defending champion Keegan Bradley, who went on to win the PGA Championship last year, and Louis Oosthuizen, who last month lost in a Masters playoff to Bubba Watson.

“I think it certainly has something to do with Byron’s 100th birthday,” Drago said. “Getting Phil to commit early also helped as other players can see that and want to come play the course and honor Byron.”

All monies raised at the tournament, expected to be in the $6-to-$7-million range, will go to fund the club’s Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers in Dallas, plus the J. Erik Jonsson Community School, which the club operates.

“I think people are taking advantage of the improving economy to get outside at a great course for a great event honoring a great man,” said 2012 tournament chairman Robert Smith.

Happy birthday indeed to golf’s great legends celebrating their 100th birthday at this year’s tournament.


Pre-qualifying for the Byron Nelson tournament will take place Thursday at Lantana Golf Club and The Lakes at Castle Hills. Open qualifying is next Monday at Lantana, outside Lewisville, for those wanting a last chance to play with the pros this year for more than $6 million in prize money.


The Northern Texas PGA Junior Golf Foundation is pleased to continue its charitable commitment to educational services by announcing its 2012 Junior Golf Foundation and Deloitte Justin Leonard scholarship recipients. A total of 12 outstanding North Texas high school students have earned awards totaling $110,000, the most given in a single year by the foundation for college in the fall.


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