Who's who: Byron Nelson

  • Photo of Byron Nelson
  • usa.png
  • Hogan, Nelson, Palmer & Snead
  • Photo of Byron Nelson
  • usa.png
  • Hogan, Nelson, Palmer & Snead

Who's who: Byron Nelson

  • Name:

    John Byron Nelson Jr
  • Also known as:

    Lord Byron
  • Country:

    USA
  • Lived:

    [1912-2006]. Born on Feb 4, 1912 in Waxahachie, Texas. Died on Sept 26, 2006 in Roanoke, Texas, aged 94.
  • Original/Home Club:

    Fort Worth, Texas
  • Occupation:

    Professional golfer, rancher.
  • Turned Pro:

    1932

Roll of Honour

MAJORS (5): US Open (1939); Masters Tournament (1937, '42); PGA Championship (1940, '45). Ryder Cup player (1937, '47); Ryder Cup captain (1965). Total professional wins (64), including PGA Tour (52). Other wins included the 1955 French Open. PGA Tour leading money winner (1944, '45).

Old Tom Morris Award (1994, GCSAA). Donald Ross Award (2002, ASGCA). Don A. Rossi Award (2009, GCBAA). World Golf Hall of Fame (inducted in 1974). Awarded one of the USA's two highest civilian honours, the Congressional Gold Medal (2006).

Did you know?

Byron Nelson, nicknamed Lord Byron, was one of the greatest players and ambassadors of golf in the mid-1900s. Together with Sam Snead and Ben Hogan (all born within seven months of each other in 1912), they formed the great golfing triumverate of the time. Between 1935-51 Nelson accumulated 52 PGA Tour titles, including five major championships.

In the 1945 season, he won 18 PGA Tour tiles, including 11 straight wins, an achievement never likely to be repeated. Even allowing for the absence of several players who were still in military service, Nelson's record in 1945 was extraordinary. The 11 back-to-back wins were played with a stroke average of 67.9 per round, more than six shots better than the average of players finishing second.

At the age of 34 Nelson retired from full-time professional golf, preferring the life of a rancher in his home state of Texas. When the Dallas Open became the Byron Nelson Classic in 1968, it was the first time a PGA Tour event carried a professional golfer's name.

Top tournaments won by Byron Nelson

Category

Europe

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

271

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Open de France. Second-placed Harry Weetman (Eng) finished 2 shots behind Nelson (USA), the second of only a few Americans to have won this title. [Vallée course, Racing Club de France (RCF), La Boulie GC, Versailles, nr Paris].

1951
America
209 (-7)
$2,000
Bing Crosby

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

209 (-7)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

Bing Crosby

Played as the Bing Crosby Pro-Am (Jan 12-14; 54-hole event). Second-placed Cary Middlecoff (USA) finished 3 shots behind Nelson (USA). [Pebble Beach Links, Monterey Peninsula, CA. Earlier rounds also at: Cypress Point Club and Monterey Peninsula CC].

1946
America
Columbus CC
276 (-12)
$2,500
Zooligans

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Columbus CC

Score

276 (-12)

Prize money

$2,500

Title sponsor

Zooligans

Played as the inaugural Columbus $10,000 Invitational (July 5-7). Second-placed Ed "Porky" Oliver (USA) finished 2 shots behind Nelson (USA). [Columbus CC, Columbus, Ohio].

1946
America
River Oaks, TX
274 (-10)
$2,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

River Oaks, TX

Score

274 (-10)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the inaugural Houston Open (May 9-12). Second-placed Ben Hogan (USA) finished 2 shots behind Byron Nelson (USA). [River Oaks CC, Houston, TX].

1946
America
279 (-5)
$2,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Medinah

Score

279 (-5)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Chicago Victory National Open (July 18-21). Second-placed Harold "Jug" McSpaden (USA) finished 2 shots behind defending champion Byron Nelson (USA). [No.3 Course, Medinah CC, Bloomingdale, nr Chicago, IL].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the San Francisco Open.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

284 (E)

Prize money

$2,666

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Los Angeles Open (Jan 4-7). Second-placed Ben Hogan (USA) finished 5 shots behind Nelson (USA). [Riviera CC, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, CA].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

277 (-11)

Prize money

$1,500

Title sponsor

x

Played as the New Orleans Open (Feb 14-17). Second-placed Ben Hogan (USA) finished 5 shots behind defending champion Byron Nelson (USA). [Bayou Oaks at City Park, New Orleans, LA. Played on what was known as City Park's No.1 (East) course; now part of the South course).

1945
America
Thornhill
280 (E)
$2,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Thornhill

Score

280 (E)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Canadian Open (Aug 2-4). Second-placed Herman Barron (USA) finished 4 shots behind Byron Nelson (USA). This was the last of Nelson's 11-in-a-row wins on the PGA Tour. [Thornhill G&CC, Vaughan, Toronto, Ont.].

1945
America
Starmount Forest
271 (-13)
$1,333
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Starmount Forest

Score

271 (-13)

Prize money

$1,333

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Greater Greensboro Open (March 22-25). Second-placed and defending champion Sam Byrd (USA) finished 8 shots behind Nelson (USA), who recorded his second win in this event. [Starmount Forest CC, Greensboro, NC].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Miami Four-Ball.

1945
Awards
$63,333
see Score
PGA of America

Category

Awards

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

$63,333

Prize money

see Score

Title sponsor

PGA of America

Nelson (USA) won his second PGA Tour leading money winner title, with 1945 season earnings of $63,333 on the Tour.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Montreal Open.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Knoxville Invitational.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Esmeralda Open.

1945
Majors
4 & 3
$3,750
PGA of America

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

4 & 3

Prize money

$3,750

Title sponsor

PGA of America

The US PGA Championship (27th) (July 9-15). Nelson (USA) beat Sam Byrd (USA) 4 and 3 in the 36-hole final. Byrd held a 2-up lead after the first 18 holes of the final, finished the round with four straight birdies. Nelson rallied in the afternoon on the final day, winning or halving all the remaining holes from the 22nd. [Moraine CC, Dayton, Ohio].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Durham Open.

1945
America
Broadmoor GC, WA
259 (-21)
$2,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Broadmoor GC, WA

Score

259 (-21)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Seattle Open (Oct 11-14; last played in 1936; next played in 1961). Second-placed Harold "Jug" McSpaden (USA) and Harry Givan (USA, amateur) finished 13 shots behind Byron Nelson (USA), whose 259 set a new 72-hole low score record on the PGA Tour. [Broadmoor GC, Seattle, WA].

1945
America
Tam O'Shanter
269 (-19)
$10,200
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Tam O'Shanter

Score

269 (-19)

Prize money

$10,200

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the All American Open (July 26-30; aka the Tam O'Shanter). Second-placed Lt. Ben Hogan (USA) and Gene Sarazen (USA) finished 11 shots behind defending champion Byron Nelson (USA), who won this event for the fourth time in five years. [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL; now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Corpus Christi Open.

1945
America
Capital City Club
263 (-13)
$2,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Capital City Club

Score

263 (-13)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Atlanta Open (April 5-8). Second-placed Sam Byrd (USA) finished 9 shots behind Nelson (USA), who won his fifth straight PGA Tour event in as many weeks, which was part of his incredible streak of 11 wins in a row. [Brookhaven course, Capital City Club, Atlanta, GA].

1945
America
Calumet CC
275 (-13)
$2,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Calumet CC

Score

275 (-13)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Chicago Victory National Open (Jun 29-Jul 1). Second-placed Ky Laffoon (USA) and defending champion Harold "Jug" McSpaden (USA) finished 7 shots behind Byron Nelson (USA). [Calumet CC, Homewood, nr Chicago, Illinois].

1945
America
Llanerch CC
269 (-11)
$2,500
Philadelphia Inquirer

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Llanerch CC

Score

269 (-11)

Prize money

$2,500

Title sponsor

Philadelphia Inquirer

Played as the Philadelphia Inquirer Open (June 14-17). Second-placed Harold "Jug" McSpaden (USA) finished 2 shots behind Byron Nelson (USA), whose final round 7-under-par 63 included birdies at each of the final four holes. [Llanerch CC, Havertown, nr Philadelphia, PA].

1945
America
Phoenix CC, AZ
274 (-10)
$1,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Phoenix CC, AZ

Score

274 (-10)

Prize money

$1,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Phoenix Open (Jan 11-14). Second-placed Denny Shute (USA) finished 2 shots behind Nelson (USA), who recorded the first of his 18 wins in 1945. [Phoenix CC, Phoenix, AZ].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

284 (-4)

Prize money

$1,333

Title sponsor

x

Played as the New Orleans Open (Feb 9-13). Byron Nelson (USA) beat Harold "Jug" McSpaden (USA) in an 18-hole Tuesday playoff (Nelson 7-under-par 65, McSpaden 70). Sunday's final two rounds postponed until Monday due to heavy rain. [Bayou Oaks at City Park, New Orleans, LA. Played on what was known as City Park's No.1 (East) course; now part of the South course).

1945
America
Myers Park CC
272 (-16)
$2,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Myers Park CC

Score

272 (-16)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Charlotte Open (March 16-21). Byron Nelson (USA) beat Sam Snead (USA) in an 18-hole Tuesday playoff (Nelson 69, Snead 73), after both players tied on 69 (-3) in an 18-hole Monday playoff. [Myers Park CC, Charlotte, NC].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Minneapolis Four-Ball.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Nashville Open.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the New York Red Cross Tournament.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the San Francisco Open.

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the San Francisco Victory Open.

1944
Awards
$37,967
see Score
PGA of America

Category

Awards

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

$37,967

Prize money

see Score

Title sponsor

PGA of America

Nelson (USA) was the PGA Tour 1944 leading money winner, with earnings of $37,967 on the Tour.

1944
America
Tam O'Shanter
280 (-8)
$10,100
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Tam O'Shanter

Score

280 (-8)

Prize money

$10,100

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the All American Open (Aug 25-28; aka the Tam O'Shanter; the biggest first-prize ever bestowed in world golf). Second-placed Ed Dudley (USA) finished 5 shots behind Byron Nelson (USA). [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL; now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

1944
America
Lakewood CC, TX
276 (-8)
$2,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Lakewood CC, TX

Score

276 (-8)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the inaugural Texas Victory Open (Sept 7-10). Second-placed Harold "Jug" McSpaden (USA) finished 10 shots behind Nelson (USA). [Lakewood CC, Dallas, TX].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Knoxville War Bond Tournament.

1942
America
Tam O'Shanter
280 (-8)
$2,500
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Tam O'Shanter

Score

280 (-8)

Prize money

$2,500

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the Tam O'Shanter Open (July 23-27). Defending champion Byron Nelson (USA) beat Clayton Heafner (USA) in an 18-hole Monday playoff (Nelson 67, Heafner 71). [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL; now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

1942
Majors
280 (-8)
$1,500
x

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

280 (-8)

Prize money

$1,500

Title sponsor

x

The Masters Tournament (9th) (April 9-12). Nelson (USA) beat Ben Hogan (USA) in an 18-hole playoff: Nelson 69 (-3), Hogan 70 (-2). This was Nelson's second Masters title. [Augusta National GC, Augusta, GA].

1942
America
Sequoyah CC
274 (-6)
$1,000
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Sequoyah CC

Score

274 (-6)

Prize money

$1,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Oakland Open (Jan 15-18). Second-placed Johnny Dawson (USA, amateur) finished 5 shots behind Byron Nelson (USA). [Sequoyah CC, Oakland, California].

1941
America
Tam O'Shanter
278 (-10)
$2,000
George S. May

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Tam O'Shanter

Score

278 (-10)

Prize money

$2,000

Title sponsor

George S. May

Played as the inaugural Tam O'Shanter Open (Sept 4-7). Second-placed Ben Hogan (USA) and Leonard Dodson (USA) finished 1 shot behind Byron Nelson (USA). [Tam O'Shanter CC, Niles, nr Chicago, IL; now the municipal Tam O'Shanter Golf Course].

1941
America
Miami Springs G&CC
269 (-11)
$2,500
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Miami Springs G&CC

Score

269 (-11)

Prize money

$2,500

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Miami Open (Dec 11-14). Second-placed Ben Hogan (USA) finished 5 shots behind defending champion Byron Nelson (USA). [Miami Springs G&CC, Miami, FL; at the time known as Miami Springs Municipal Course].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

276 (-6)

Prize money

$1,200

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Greater Greensboro Open (March 20-23). Second-placed Vic Ghezzi (USA) finished 2 shots behind Nelson (USA). [Sedgefield CC and Starmount Forest CC, Greensboro, NC].

1940
Majors
1 hole
$1,100
PGA of America

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

1 hole

Prize money

$1,100

Title sponsor

PGA of America

The US PGA Championship (23rd) (Aug 26-Sep 2). Nelson (USA) beat Sam Snead (USA) 1-up in the 36-hole final. [West course, Hershey CC, Hershey, PA].

1940
America
Miami Springs G&CC
271 (-9)
$2,500
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Miami Springs G&CC

Score

271 (-9)

Prize money

$2,500

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Miami Open (Dec 13-15). Second-placed Clayton Heafner (USA) finished 1 shot behind Byron Nelson (USA). [Miami Springs G&CC, Miami, FL; at the time known as Miami Springs Municipal Course].

1940
America
271 (-13)
$1,500
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

271 (-13)

Prize money

$1,500

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Texas Open (Feb 9-12). Byron Nelson (USA) beat Ben Hogan (USA) in an 18-hole Monday playoff: Nelson 70 (-1), Hogan 71 (E). [Brackenridge Park GC, San Antonio, TX].

1939
America
281 (-2)
$750
WGA

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Medinah

Score

281 (-2)

Prize money

$750

Title sponsor

WGA

Played as the Western Open (July 21-23). Second-placed Lloyd Mangrum (USA) finished 1 shot behind Byron Nelson (USA). [No.3 Course, Medinah CC, Bloomingdale, nr Chicago, IL; early rounds also played on the par-70 No.1 course].

1939
Majors
Philadelphia CC
284 (+8)
$1,000
USGA

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Philadelphia CC

Score

284 (+8)

Prize money

$1,000

Title sponsor

USGA

The US Open (43rd) (June 8-12). Nelson (USA) beat Craig Wood (USA) in the second of two 18-hole playoffs. First playoff: Nelson 68 (-1), Wood 68 (-1), Denny Shute 76 (+7; eliminated). Second playoff: Nelson 70 (+1), Wood 73 (+4). [Spring Mill course, Philadelphia CC, Gladwyne, nr Philadelphia, PA].

1939
Awards
473 pts
n/a
PGA of America

Category

Awards

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

473 pts

Prize money

n/a

Title sponsor

PGA of America

Nelson (USA) won the PGA of America Vardon Trophy, based on a season-long points accumulation.

1939
America
Phoenix CC, AZ
198 (-15)
$700
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Phoenix CC, AZ

Score

198 (-15)

Prize money

$700

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Phoenix Open (Feb 3-5; 54-hole tournament; last played in 1935). Second-placed Ben Hogan (USA) finished 12 shots behind Nelson (USA). [Phoenix CC, Phoenix, AZ].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

280 (-8)

Prize money

$1,000

Title sponsor

x

Played as the North & South Open (March 21-23). Second-placed Horton Smith (USA) finished 2 shots behind Byron Nelson (USA). [No.2 Course, Pinehurst Resort, North Carolina].

1938
America
Glen Arven CC
280 (-8)
$700
x

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Glen Arven CC

Score

280 (-8)

Prize money

$700

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Thomasville Open (Feb 25-27). Second-placed and defending champion Dick Metz (USA) finished 4 shots behind Byron Nelson (USA), who recorded his fifth PGA Tour win. [Glen Arven CC, Thomasville, Georgia].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Hollywood Open.

1937
Majors
283 (-5)
$1,500
x

Category

Majors

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

283 (-5)

Prize money

$1,500

Title sponsor

x

The Masters Tournament (4th) (April 1-4; played as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament). Second-placed Ralph Guldahl (USA) finished 2 shots behind Nelson (USA), who recorded the first of his two Masters wins. [Augusta National GC, Augusta, GA].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the Belmont Country Club Match Play.

1936
America
283 (+3)
$750
Metropolitan GA

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Score

283 (+3)

Prize money

$750

Title sponsor

Metropolitan GA

Played as the Metropolitan Open (May 21-23). Second-placed Craig Wood (USA) finished 2 shots behind Byron Nelson (USA), who recorded his second PGA Tour win. [Quaker Ridge GC, Scarsdale, nr New York City, NY].

Category

America

Winner (holder)

Nelson, Byron

Venue

Score

Prize money

Title sponsor

x

Played as the New Jersey State Open

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