A Day of Inspiration at the HP Byron Nelson Championship

Andy Reistetter@GolfWriter59Analyst IMay 24, 2010

Featured Columnist Andy Reistetter is on site at the HP Byron Nelson Championship at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas, Texas.

 

Maybe it wasn't Texas-style inspiration, like back in 2007 when Scott Verplank won the first year after the legendary Byron Nelson passed.

 

But it surely was an inspiring 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship at the TPC Four Seasons.

 

Earlier in the day, Chris Smith tapped in on 18 after making his first cut and paycheck after his wife Beth died tragically nearly one year ago.

 

Last week Smith's daughter Abigail, 17, and son Cameron, 13, had a good time caddying and driving the cart for their dad at the somewhat relaxed atmosphere of the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am.

 

This week it was all business for the 41-year old golfer who won the 2002 Buick Classic.

 

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

"Beth would want happiness. It's what we all have strived for, forever. Just because something tragic happens, you've got to look forward and be happy and enjoy life."

 

(Quote courtesy of Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News)

 

Later in the day, it was Jason Day teeing it up on the 18th hole with a one stroke lead over Blake Adams.

 

Adams had the tee after a birdie at the 16th hole, and hit a 3-wood wide right that the wind took wider right on the difficult driving finishing hole.

 

Day was trying to avoid another watery grave on the 18th hole where he hit his tee shots into the water in the first and third rounds.

 

Fortunately on Saturday he was able to get up and down for a "pro par," and take a two stroke lead into the final round.

 

In Day's own words he hit a "kind of chunky 3‑iron down to the right" in the land where there are no sprinkler heads with yardages on them.

 

He then hit a 4-iron from a place his caddie Colin Swatton told him was 205 yards away from the hole.

 

He pulled it slightly left, and then it hit the bank and rolled down into the water hazard for the third time this week.

 

Fortunately he carried the red line defining the water hazard and was able to drop in close proximity to the green.

 

Amazingly Blake then hit without any knowledge of Day's watery fate and clipped a tree coming out which deflected his ball into the same hazard though almost 100 yards from the hole.

 

Day was able to chip up and drain a 16-footer to win his first PGA TOUR event in his 66th start with a bogey on the final hole.

 

Adams' double bogey dropped him from a solo second place finish into a three way tie for second and cost him over $200,000.

 

Sometimes inspiration is found in tragedy.

 

"I was disappointed that I hit it in the water and made it so hard for myself, but in the end I'm happy I holed that putt and won the tournament."

 

"It's just really good memories, even though I made bogey.  It doesn't matter how it gets done, as long as it gets done."

 

At 22 years of age it hasn't really been that long of a road for Day who turned pro in 2006.

 

Though maybe the road Jason was on was travelled more than it should have been on the way to his first "W."

 

"I wear my heart on my collar, and I worked so hard to get to where I am today, and this means a lot to me." 

 

"I believed that it was going to come sooner.  Unfortunately it didn't, and it was my own fault that it didn't come sooner."

 

"The first year I didn't practice hard enough."

 

"(It was) me being lazy and thinking ‑‑ someone (gives you) a really good contract deal (and) everyone is telling you you're the best, and it's easy to slack off."

 

"I've been working very hard this year and last year, and it's starting to pay off."

 

What's the inspiration for Blake Adams, who took the lead from Day after a birdie on No. 10?

 

The second place finish is his best ever on tour.

 

In only his 14th event, the 34-year old true rookie who played in his very first PGA TOUR tournament at the SONY Open in Hawaii earlier this year, was ever so close to victory.

 

With his little boy Jake as his shadow, and wife Beth holding their newborn girl Libby the experience is all positives in his mind.

 

"I was always a big fan of Mr. Nelson, and this is a tournament I always wanted to show up and play in, but it's a learning experience.  This will be a special place; it's my best finish.  Hopefully I can improve on it for years to come."

 

Adams played with 16-year old high school junior Jordan Spieth for the first two days.

 

Like Smith, Day and Blake the amateur was an inspiring story line as strong as the Texas wind on Sunday afternoon in Las Colinas.

 

What was Jordan's favorite competitive moment of the tournament?

 

The par-3 17th with the hole placed on the far right and closely guarded by rocks, flowers, and water.

 

"You're going to look back and say that you wish you'd fired at this pin, even if it goes in the water.  You've got to try to make a hole in one here."

 

When does a 16-year old kid ever look back?

 

I know one of mind didn't when he backed out of the garage into my car.

 

Spieth is the real deal well beyond his years in terms of maturity, communication skills, and yes golfing skills.

 

Thinking hole-in-one?

 

"I can't wait to get back out there and do it again."

 

Neither can we wait the three weeks before he tees it up in Memphis in his second PGA TOUR event.

 

How does he do it?

 

"All I'm doing is just pretending there (are) no cameras, I guess, I'm just trying to talk to y'all, like I'm just talking to you, just trying to be myself."

 

What was the advice of his parents?

 

"You need to enjoy it, no matter how you play.  Everyone is out here to support you; you don't have any expectations going in, you know, you're just playing your game and taking it shot by shot.  Just enjoy the experience, and that's what I did."

 

Now that is an inspiring story!

 

Jason Day at age 22, and even in all the excitement of winning his first tournament, knew what may be the biggest inspiration of the week.

 

The youngster referenced it at the end of the awards ceremony on the 18th green and then again in his press conference.

 

"It means the world to me, for this to be my first TOUR event.  To be even in the same breath as Mr. Nelson is just amazing."

 

The sign on the 18th tee says it all…

 

Byron Nelson: A Champion… A Gentleman… Our Inspiration.

 

By the way Verplank shot a Sunday 67 to finish tied for fifth place with San Antonio resident Cameron Beckman (68).

 

Aussie winner Jason Day lives in Fort Worth.

 

Maybe it was a Texas style inspirational day after all...

 

 

Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.

 

He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

 

He enjoys pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. He can be reached through his website www.MrHickoryGolf.net or by e-mailing him to AndyReistetter@gmail.com