|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Professional wins (64)|
|PGA Tour||52 (6th all time)|
| Best Results in Major Championships|
|Masters||Won (2) 1937, 1942|
|U.S. Open||Won (1) 1939|
|British Open||5th: 1937|
|PGA Championship||Won (2) 1940, 1945|
|Awards listed here|
He and two other well known golfers of the time, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, were born within 6 months of each other in 1912. Although he won many tournaments in the course of his relatively brief career, he is mostly remembered today for having won 11 consecutive tournaments and 18 total tournaments in 1945. He retired officially at the age of 34 to be a rancher, later becoming a commentator and lending his name to the EDS Byron Nelson Championship, the first PGA Tour event to be named for a professional golfer. In 1974, Byron Nelson received the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
He became the second recipient of the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. in 1974. He received the 1994 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA's highest honor. Nelson received the Congressional Gold Medal shortly after his death in 2006.
When Nelson was 11 years old, the family moved to Fort Worth, where he barely survived typhoid fever after losing nearly half his body weight to the disease, which also left him unable to sire children. Soon after his baptism at age 12, he started caddying at Glen Garden Country Club. On his caddying days, Nelson said, "I knew nothing about caddying at first, but it wasn't difficult to learn. The other caddies, though, didn't like to see any new ones, because that might mean they wouldn't get a job sometime. An article on Nelson in Sports Illustrated noted that initially caddies were not permitted to play at the club: "[H]e would often practice in the dark, putting his white handkerchief over the hole so he could find it in the darkness." The club later changed its policy and sponsored the Glen Garden Caddie Tournament, where a 14-year-old Nelson beat fellow caddy and future golf great Ben Hogan by a single stroke after a nine-hole playoff.
In his career, Nelson won 52 professional events. Nelson won the Vardon Trophy in 1939. He played on the U.S. Ryder Cup teams in 1937 and 1947 and was non-playing captain of the team in 1965. After 1946, Nelson curtailed his schedule although he continued to make regular appearances at The Masters as a competitor, and later as a ceremonial starter for many years.
Nelson was often referred to as "Lord Byron," after the English poet by that name, in recognition of his reputation for gentlemanly conduct, a nickname given him by Atlanta sports journalist O. B. Keeler. Many of his obituaries referenced this reputation.
Nelson was ranked as the fifth greatest golfer of all time by Golf Digest magazine in 2000. On this list, Jack Nicklaus was first, Nelson's longtime rivals Ben Hogan and Sam Snead were second and third respectively, and Bobby Jones was fourth.
Several of the obituary columns mentioned Nelson's Christian beliefs, and one widely quoted column by PGA.com's Grant Boone drew a direct connection between these beliefs and Nelson's positive reputation: "Byron Nelson wasn't randomly respectable, not generically good. He was a follower of Christ, and his discipleship dictated his decency, demeanor, decision-making, and the way he dealt with people. ... But Nelson never brandished his faith as a weapon, choosing instead to extend an empty and open hand in friendship to all comers. And did they ever come. Wherever the debate over which golfer is the best of all time ends, Byron Nelson was the game's finest man, hands down."
On October 16, 2006, President George W. Bush approved H.R. 4902 awarding Byron Nelson the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award that can be bestowed by the Legislative Branch of the United States government. The resolution cites Mr. Nelson's "significant contributions to the game of golf as a player, a teacher, and a commentator." Representative Michael C. Burgess (R-TX) sponsored the resolution, originally proposed March 8, 2006, well before Nelson's death. Senate Resolution 602 memorialized Nelson on September 29, 2006.
On April 23, 2007 the Northwest Independent School District named their second high school Byron Nelson High School. This is the first high school named in honor of Byron Nelson, and is expected to open in 2009. The school will be located in Trophy Club, Texas, near Nelson's hometown of Roanoke.
Major championships are shown in bold.
|Year||Championship||54 Holes||Winning Score||Margin||Runner(s) Up|
|1937||The Masters||4 shot deficit||-5 (66-72-75-70=283)||2 strokes||Ralph Guldahl|
|1939||U.S. Open||5 shot deficit||+8 (72-73-71-68=284)||Playoff 1||Craig Wood, Denny Shute|
|1940||PGA Championship||N/A||1 up||1 stroke||Sam Snead|
|1942||The Masters (2)||2 shot lead||-6 (68-67-72-73=280)||Playoff 2||Ben Hogan|
|1945||PGA Championship (2)||N/A||4 & 3||4 strokes||Sam Byrd|
Note: The PGA Championship was match play until 1958
1 Defeated Craig Wood and Denny Shute in 36-hole playoff - Nelson (68-70=138), Wood (68-73=141), Shute (76) (eliminated after first 18)
2 Defeated Ben Hogan in 18-hole playoff - Nelson (69), Hogan (70)
|The Open Championship||DNP||DNP||DNP||5||DNP||DNP|
|The Open Championship||NT||NT||NT||NT||NT||NT||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
|The Open Championship||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||T32||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
|The Open Championship||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP|
NT = No tournament
DNP = Did not play
WD = Withdrew
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for Top 10.