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Defending A Real Honor – HP Byron Nelson Championship

by   |   May 18, 2010

When you make your return to defend any PGA Tour title it is special in some way. That is even more so when it is an event that honors the legacy of one of the game’s greatest champions. 

That situation falls on the shoulders of Rory Sabbatini this week at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Nelson may have passed away in 2006 but his legacy lives on with this tournament and the players know it.

A gentle man with deep faith, few will argue that there was not a more respected PGA Tour player and the field at the golf tournament that bears his name usually swells in talent in reverence.

Sabbatini addressed the influence of Byron Nelson immediately after his win last year. “…his name and his legend lives on with this tournament and with the Salesmanship Club and just in north Texas here. You know, what a wonderful name to be associated with now. Obviously absolutely amazing man, one of the greatest names in the history of the sport, and just really, there's no words to express how much honor there is to be associated with him.”

Since 1968 The Salesmanship Club has raised more than $110 million dollars for charitable causes at this tournament, making it bigger than just a golf tournament week, and that is never lost on the players. 

Part of the week includes the Byron Nelson Prize, an award that comes with a $100,000 gift to charity on behalf of the recipient. This year the Prize went to Tom Watson, a long time friend of Mr. Nelson who learned plenty under the watchful eye of the elder statesman during practice sessions at the Nelson Ranch in Roanoke, Texas. Watson will split the donation from the prize between Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, The Bruce Edwards Foundation for ALS research and the First Tee of Greater Kansas City.

On the golf course this week Rory Sabbatini will have to defend against a deep field. It is the third straight week that the PGA Tour is playing on a TPC Course, this one the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas, and this could be a great shootout. Sabbatini reached 19 under par last year, pushing to the finish with weekend rounds of 65, 64 on the par 70 layout.

Renovated heavily in 2007/2008 the Four Seasons Course weighs in at just over 7100 short Texas yards and if golfers can stay in the middle of the tree-lined fairways the fairly flat greens always dish up some birdie opportunities.

Watch for at least one score of 63 or lower this week. Scott McCarron tuned that trick with a final round 62 last year on his way to a tie for 4th place.

Also keep an eye on Brian Davis, who had the heartbreaking playoff loss at Harbour Town. He finished 2nd to Sabbatini here last year and Dustin Johnson, who tied for 4th in 2009 is also in fine form.

My pick of the week though? I’ll take Rickie Fowler. Currently 23rd on the FedEx Points list, for some reason I feel he is ready for a win.

Byron Nelson probably wouldn’t approve of his Fowler’s choice of haircuts but you know he would respect his ability to play the game. It would be a great breakout venue for the PGA Tour rookie who played his collegiate golf just a state over.

This report provided to GolfWRX.com by Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)

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