Golf was a very different sport when Byron Nelson was in his pomp. The hall of fame-honoured player was only an active touring professional between 1935 and 1946 but was still able to amass five major championships before retiring to become a rancher. Later in life he returned to professional golf as a commentator and the host of the AT&T Byron Nelson.
This was the first tournament to be named after a professional golfer, showing the reverence with which the PGA Tour and the wider golfing world hold Nelson. He was also well respected for the amount of money he raised for charity and while the AT&T Byron Nelson isn’t the strongest event on the PGA Tour schedule, it continues to do a great deal for charitable organisations while providing less heralded players with the chance to earn a life-changing win.
|2019||Trinity Forest Golf Club||Sung Kang|
|2018||Trinity Forest Golf Club||Aaron Wise|
|2017||TPC Four Seasons Resort||Billy Horschel|
The 2020 tournament was cancelled.
2019: Sung Kang
The decision to move the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest Golf Club was taken to try and give the tournament a shot in the arm. Fields had steadily weakened as players decided they didn’t want to play at TPC Four Seasons but the move to Trinity Forest didn’t quite have the positive effect that was hoped for. For the second year in a row, the winner of the Byron Nelson shot -23 as the par-71 links-style course provided continued birdie opportunities.
Complaints about the course were heard from fans and pundits but most decidedly not from Sung Kang who took full advantage as he took the course apart. He tied with the tournament record set by Aaron Wise the year before. Also like Wise, this was the first PGA Tour win of Kang’s career while it was the second time that the Byron Nelson has been won by a South Korean after Sangmoon Bae’s victory in 2013.
Sung Kang was right to be delighted with his performance in Dallas which included equalling the course record of 61. He did enough to keep an eclectic and strong chasing pack firmly in the rearview mirror with Matt Every, Scott Piercy and Brooks Koepka filling the places in behind him.
2018: Aaron Wise
The road to winning on the PGA Tour is a long one, taking in a whole host of junior, amateur and mini-tour events along the way. Aaron Wise knows exactly how tough it is to keep fighting to get to the top. Prior to making it onto the PGA Tour, he secured wins on the Web.com and Mackenzie Tours and all of that hard work returned handsomely in the moment that every professional golfer dreams of: walking up the final fairway, saluting the crowd with victory assured.
Victory was anything but assured for Wise when he began his final round, though. Although he started Sunday seven shots clear of Branden Grace in third place, he had company at the top of the leaderboard in the shape of the experienced winner of multiple events around the world, Marc Leishman. It was Wise who looked like the experienced pro though, steadily pulling clear of Leishman after a weather delay to win his first PGA Tour title.
As impressive as the 21 year old rookie’s win was, the 2018 edition of the AT&T Byron Nelson was not universally revered by golf fans. The return to Dallas had historical significance on the tournament’s 50th anniversary but Trinity Forest proved to be a pushover in damp conditions that allowed Wise to break the tournament record with a winning score of -23.
2017: Billy Horschel
The tournament organisers for the AT&T Byron Nelson were hoping the 2018 edition would provide a fitting finale to the hosting duties of TPC Four Seasons and so it proved with Billy Horschel and Jason Day locked together at -12 after the 72 regulation holes. The pair played against each other in the final grouping alongside James Hahn (who missed out on the playoff by a matter of inches when his approach on the 72nd hole narrowly missed for eagle) but their extra time together in the playoff was as short as could be with a three-putt from Day handing the victory to Horschel courtesy of a par.
That the two men could not be separated over 72 holes was not a surprise given the quality of their golf at TPC Four Seasons. That they were capable of such good golf certainly was a surprise though. Horschel’s incoming form was horrible with four straight missed cuts while Day suffered the ignominy of failing to break 80 in his most recent round at the Players Championship.
With Hahn’s chances of winning receding after a weather break in the final round, it was left to Horschel and Day to trade blows. When Horschel holed the longest putt of his career on the 14th hole Day responded by chipping in for birdie on the 15th. They matched each other to the green on the first playoff hole but Day’s usually reliable putter let him down, gifting his opponent a fourth PGA Tour title.