Nelson event needs more player support

K.J. Choi chats with Byron Nelson in 2003.

Every Monday, Byron Nelson took out his personalized beige stationery with sky blue trim and jotted a short note of congratulations to the winner of that week’s PGA Tour event.

He also made sure to remind him of the dates of the Texas Tour stop that bared his name.

Nelson wrote the runner-up, too, and sometimes sent a note of encouragement to one of the many players he’d befriended over the years. When he signed it “Byron,” it all but guaranteed the attendance of the recipient as part of one of the strongest fields in golf.

In addition to his notes, which many players tucked away for safekeeping, for years Nelson attended the four majors to recruit players.

Nelson died in 2006. Ever since, it seems as if the top players in the world have forgotten to pay their respects.

It doesn’t help that all of the top Europeans head back across the pond to play in one of their tour’s majors, the BMW PGA Championship. That’s understandable. But where are all the top Americans? Not in Dallas like they used to be when Lord Byron sat by the first tee wearing his trademark white-brimmed fedora and greeted each competitor. Dallas residents Hunter Mahan, No. 17 in the Official World Golf Rankings, and Y.E. Yang at No. 19, are the top-ranked players in the field. Doesn’t anyone want to earn some frequent-flyer miles this week?

It’s a shame and makes you wonder: Will the same happen to the Arnold Palmer Invitational someday?

Let’s hope not.

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