Golf Legend Byron Nelson Dies At 94

Legendary golfer Byron Nelson tips his hat during the opening ceremony of the Byron Nelson Championship golf tournament Tuesday, May 9, 2006, in Irving, Texas. AP

Professional golfer Byron Nelson, who had the greatest year in the history of professional golf when he won 18 tournaments in 1945, including 11 in a row, died Tuesday. He was 94.

There was no cause of death listed on the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Web site Tuesday.

Known as "Lord Byron" because of his elegant swing and gentle manner, Nelson won 31 of 54 tournaments in 1944-45. Then, at the age of 34, he retired after the 1946 season to spend more time on his Texas ranch.

"When I was playing regularly, I had a goal," Nelson recalled years later. "I could see the prize money going into the ranch, buying a tractor, or a cow. It gave me incentive."

That incentive pushed Nelson to become one of the best players of his era. He won the Masters in 1937 and '42, the U.S. Open in 1939 and the PGA Championship in 1940 and '45.

He also finished second once in the U.S. Open, twice in the Masters and three times in the PGA. Nelson played in British Open only twice, finishing fifth in 1937.

Nelson's long, fluid swing is considered the model of the modern way to strike a golf ball. His kind, caring style with fans and competitors made him one of the most well-liked people in sports.

"I don't know very much," Nelson said in a 1997 interview with The Associated Press. "I know a little bit about golf. I know how to make a stew. And I know how to be a decent man."

Nelson was nominated for a Congressional Gold Medal. The bill passed the House on May 9 but is still awaiting more signatures before it can be presented to the Senate, reports CBS News associate producer Cheryl Getty.

Nelson's second British Open was in 1955, when he was no longer a serious competitor, although he did win the French Open on that trip for his last professional victory. His 10,000-franc prize was not enough to pay the hotel bill.

"I had to put up another $200," he told the AP with a huge smile.

Nelson was born Feb. 4, 1912, on the family farm and started in golf in 1922 as a caddie at Glen Garden Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
  • Alfonso Serrano

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.