All-time Power Rankings: AT&T Byron Nelson
May 04, 2020
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Tom Watson had four wins and 14 top-10 finishes at the AT&T Byron Nelson. (PGA TOUR Archive)
Stealing from the familiar phrase and opting for the positivity that it projects (because good news never has been harder to find), the glass is two-thirds full.
The cancellation of the AT&T Byron Nelson that originally was slated for this week falls in the ninth of 13 weeks in a row without the completion of sanctioned competition. That means that we're well into the inward side of the hiatus before the PGA TOUR is scheduled to resume with the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 11-14.
Although tournaments impacted have been canceled or rescheduled, PGA TOUR members will have a chance to compete in them regardless of season-ending position in the FedExCup. You read that right.
Two weeks after it was announced how the remainder of the 2019-20 season and the fall portion of the 2020-21 season would be constructed, the TOUR announced that eligibility for current members will extend another season.
For those who will be planning a start at the AT&T Byron Nelson in 2021, it means a move to TPC Craig Ranch about 25 miles north of downtown Dallas. It hosted the Korn Ferry Tour Championship in 2008 and 2012. The book is closed on Trinity Forest Golf Club after two years.
Any brief history lesson of the tournament must begin with the fact that it's the first PGA TOUR event to be named after a professional golfer. Byron Nelson granted his name to the tournament in 1968 and served as host until his death in 2006.
Nelson played in the tournament in only the first two editions – he won the inaugural in 1944 and finished third in his title defense the following year – so he is not featured below. Neither is five-time Open champion Peter Thomson, whose only victory in the United States occurred in the second edition of what was known as the Texas International Open in 1956. In his only other tournament appearance, he placed T13 in the Dallas Centennial Open the previous week. Indeed, there were consecutive editions of this tournament over a fortnight. Preston Hollow Country Club in Dallas hosted both.
There have been 66 editions of the AT&T Byron Nelson in all. The first five (1944-1956) were contested without a cut.
ALL-TIME POWER RANKINGS: AT&T BYRON NELSON
15. Fred Couples
Made the most of 16 starts with a victory at TPC Las Colinas in 1987 and a co-runner-up in 1998. Totaled six top 10s and added a T11. His T9 as a tournament debutant in 1981 was his second career top 10 (of 161). His last top 10 at the Nelson was a T8 as a 49-year-old in 2009.
14. Phil Mickelson
His strong, sturdy history at the event includes a victory in 1996, a playoff loss in 2000 and a T3 in 2007. He's sprinkled in two more top 10s and another three top 20s in 14 starts.
13. Craig Stadler
The Walrus missed seven cuts in 21 tries, but he compressed a win (1984), a solo second (1991), another three top fives and four more top 20s in a 12-year span through 1995.
12. Payne Stewart
The SMU product under the charge of unrelated fellow AT&T Byron Nelson champion, Earl Stewart, was a loyalist at the Nelson with 17 consecutive appearances through a T19 in his last in 1998. He emerged with victory in 1990 and lost in a playoff in 1985, while scattering another four top 10s and yet another three top 25s among 13 cuts made.
11. Earl Stewart
Among the countless direct connections to Lord Byron and/or the Dallas area in this Power Rankings, Stewart prevailed on his home course (Oak Cliff) in the 1961 edition of the tournament. It was one of seven consecutive top 25s from 1957-1966 that also featured a T2 in 1959. Beginning with a solo fifth in the inaugural edition in 1944, he'd go on to total six top 10s and 10 top 25s in 15 appearances. After his career as a touring professional, he coached the golf teams at nearby SMU for over a decade.
10. Scott Verplank
Appeared 27 times and survived only 13 cuts, but compelling performances spanning the spectrum of his PGA TOUR career occurred in his native Dallas. It was in the debut of TPC Las Colinas in 1986 that he made the last start (T19) of a storied amateur experience that included a victory in the 1985 Western Open. After a playoff loss in 2001, he recorded the last of his five TOUR titles in the event in 2007, the first edition after Nelson's death. Five of Verplank's six top 10s (and nine top 25s) in the tournament were top fives, including a T5 as a 45-year-old in 2010.
9. Don January
With such a sterling record on the PGA TOUR, it'd have been an upset if the native of north Texas didn't thrive in his backyard. In fact, it's where the success began in earnest with victory in his tournament debut in 1956. In 23 appearances, he recorded six top 10s among 15 top 25s. Won the Vardon Trophy at age 46 in 1976 and would go on to finish T3 at Preston Trail as a 48-year-old in 1978. He'd win 10 times throughout his career, including one major (1967 PGA Championship), and represent the United States twice in the Ryder Cup (1965, 1977).
8. Jack Nicklaus
Won twice (1970, 1971) and didn't miss a cut in eight trips. In his first season on the PGA TOUR in 1962, he finished T5 at Oak Cliff Country Club. He didn't return until Preston Trail took over in 1968 and placed 10th. After the titles, he added one more top 10 (T8, 1976) before wrapping his tournament record with a T23 in 1983, totaling five top 10s and six top 25s.
7. Sergio Garcia
As the youngest (40) in this Power Rankings, there is time to build on what already is an impressive record at the AT&T Byron Nelson. In 14 starts, he's won twice (2004, 2016; both in playoffs), finished T3 as a 19-year-old in his debut in 1999, and totaled four top 10s among eight top 20s.
6. Nick Price
As nice of a guy that he is, he played with such a ferociousness from tee to green that you couldn't help but respect his ability to focus and rely on that skill set. It paid off handsomely in Dallas where he capture the title in 1991. As a 46-year-old in 2003, his solo second was the penultimate podium finish of 50 in his PGA TOUR career. He then added top 10s in the next two editions. In 19 appearances from 1985-2005, he went for nine top 10s and another six top 20s, and missed only one cut.
5. Ben Crenshaw
All things Austin, Texas, through and through, his experience in the wind served him well in Dallas. Gentle Ben picked off his lone victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson in 1983. He also finished second in 1977, lost in a playoff in 1992 and finished T3 in 1988. Overall, he hung up nine top 10s and another two top 20s among 20 cuts made in 27 appearances.
4. Raymond Floyd
His career record at the AT&T Byron Nelson is a microcosm for his longevity and consistently strong form throughout a robust career. In 1964 and while celebrating his 22nd birthday at the tournament, he debuted with a solo fifth. In his last of 24 starts, he placed T8 as a 50-year-old in 1993. In between, he won the 1977 edition, finished second twice (including in a playoff at age 49 in 1992) and recorded two thirds among nine top 10s and 17 top 25s. He also missed only one cut, that on the number in 1987.
3. Sam Snead
The Slammer made just six starts, the last of which resulting in a mid-tournament withdrawal as a 55-year-old in 1968, but he won three times, including by 10 strokes in 1957. His second-round 60 at Glen Lakes that week tied what was then the PGA TOUR record for lowest round. His score in relation to par of 20-under 264 was the tournament record until both winners at Trinity Forest reached 23-under 261.
2. Bruce Lietzke
Depending on when you were introduced to the sport, you're going to have a vastly different perspective of the longtime Dallas resident, and it has nothing to do with his seven wins in 194 starts on the PGA TOUR Champions. He emerged in the mid-1970s as a force by the age of 25. From 1977-1982, he won nine times and competed in his only Ryder Cup in 1981, the same year that he won the AT&T Byron Nelson for the first time in a playoff over Tom Watson. Another four titles followed through 1994, including his second W at the Nelson in '88, also in a playoff, this time over Clarence Rose. By the time he turned 40 in July of 1991, Lietzke had curtailed his schedule before it was en vogue, yet he still finished inside the top 30 on the money list three times and twice more inside the top 80 before hanging up his PGA TOUR card two months shy of his 50th birthday. Citing the reward for hard work and career success, he balanced his life outside the ropes with an affinity for classic cars on which he worked. Yet, he missed only one edition of the Nelson in 25 years (1979) and added a playoff loss (1992) and a T3 to total six top 10s and eight top 20s.
1. Tom Watson
How fitting that the only champion with as many as four titles at the AT&T Byron Nelson had established a deep connection with Nelson himself. After sharing runner-up honors in 1974, in his third of what would be 28 consecutive appearances, Watson prevailed in 1975 by two at Preston Trail. After a couple of poor performances, he authored one of the greatest runs of any golfer in any tournament. From 1978-1985, he went Win-Win-Win-P2-T3-T4-3rd-T3. In 1997, at the age of 47, he finished T3, four strokes back of 21-year-old Tiger Woods, who was making his first start since his historic victory at the Masters. All told, Watson was 23-for-28 with 14 top 10s and another two top 20s.
All-time shots from AT&T Byron Nelson
The AT&T Byron Nelson is a tournament with rich history. The fact that he didn't crack the top 15 despite one win (1997), two thirds and a pair of fourths among six top 10s in nine appearances is evidence of it.
With a playoff win (1960) and a solo second (1962) among five top 10s and nine top 25s contributing to his 10-for-14 record, he edges out numerous one-time winners who can't claim a runner-up finish or more top 10s and/or top 25s.
In between missing his first six cuts (1981-1988) and his last two (2003, 2004), he rose for victory in a playoff (1999), four more top 10s and another three top 25s among 13 cuts made.
While there are 40 winners of the AT&T Byron Nelson omitted from this section, the majority of whom with multiple top 10s (led by 1986 champion Andy Bean with five) and top 25s (led by 1962 champion Billy Maxwell and 1972 champion Chi Chi Rodriguez, each with 10), Trevino's success short of connecting for a victory demands attention in his hometown. Beginning with the first of 481 PGA TOUR starts at Oak Cliff in 1962 and concluding with his last of 22 appearances at TPC Las Colinas in 1989, The Merry Mex finished second twice, T3 once and T5 three times. Overall, he pounded out seven top 10s and another six top 25s among 20 cuts made.
He was a 14-time winner on the PGA TOUR but he settled for status as a frequent also-ran at the AT&T Byron Nelson. The closest he came to victory was in 1969 when fellow Aussie Bruce Devlin bettered him by one stroke. In 15 career appearances from 1958-1975, Crampton recorded eight top 10s and didn't miss a cut.