Byron Nelson's legacy may be lost on young PGA Tour pros
DALLAS, Mar 02, 2012 (Menafn - Fort Worth Star-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Harrison Frazar, a Dallas resident who ranks 19th on this week's PGA Tour season money list, credits lessons learned from Byron Nelson with helping him turn around his career in difficult times.
Frazar, 40, reflected Thursday on some handwritten notes he received from Nelson -- the late golf legend from Roanoke and namesake of the HP Byron Nelson Championship -- that he used as motivation to help him claim his first career triumph at the 2011 FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis.
But he wonders if young players who will compete May 14-20 in Irving appreciate Nelson's legacy of helping others in conjunction with his Hall of Fame golf career.
"My generation was the last one that could really reach out and touch Mr. Nelson. So we felt a very deep, personal connection with him," said Frazar, who cited a 16-year-old note from Nelson -- suggesting he would learn more from his defeats than he'd ever learn from his victories -- as a key motivational piece in breaking out of a lengthy slump last year.
Frazar has followed up with two top-five finishes in six starts this season, placing him 19th on the money list with 667,986.
"My hope is that the young guys coming up don't lose sight of who he was and what a great man that he was," Frazar said. "We've got to keep his legacy and everything that was great about the man alive."
Toward that end, Frazar applauded the efforts of officials who plan tournament-week tributes to Nelson at this year's event in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday. Nelson died in September 2006.
"The further that we get away from Byron's career and his death, it's difficult to get the younger golfers to focus on the history," said Robert Smith, 2012 Nelson tournament chairman. In taking a page from the tournament namesake, who stressed a family-first approach, Smith announced some new policies that include:
Free parking and free shuttle service for fans who use the former Texas Stadium lot.
Free admission for children 13 and under.
Family picnic areas at selected, shaded course locations.
Designated "kids only" viewing areas at greenside locations on selected holes.
Early commitments: In addition to Harrison Frazar and Keegan Bradley, the defending champion, Nelson commitments include Vijay Singh, Johnson Wagner, John Huh, Charley Hoffman, Ricky Barnes, Justin Leonard and Colleyville resident Ryan Palmer. U.S. Amateur champ Kelly Kraft, a former SMU golfer, has accepted a sponsor's exemption.
Colonial hire: Mike Zinga has joined the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial as director of sales. Zinga is in a sales and marketing role at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, March 8-11 in Miami. His new job begins March 20. Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760
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