An important era ends the way it began 35 years ago

by Dan M | Posted on Monday, May 22nd, 2017

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By: Bill Nichols

When the Byron Nelson Classic moved to Las Colinas in 1983, Ben Crenshaw was mired in a deep slump. As the popular Austin native walked toward 18th green to seal his one-stroke victory, he was overwhelmed by roars from the record crowd of 45,000.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” Crenshaw said, adding that his ninth career win was “the sweetest of ‘em all. I couldn’t have picked a better place to do it.”

The AT&T Byron Nelson’s 35-year era at the Four Seasons Resort and Club, the longest in tournament history, closed on Sunday in similar fashion.

Billy Horschel, who had missed the cut seven times in 16 starts this season, including the last four, celebrated a one-hole playoff victory over 2010 champion Jason Day.

Horschel snapped a 30-month winless streak, virtually mirroring Crenshaw’s 31-month drought.

Horschel had missed the cut in his only two previous starts at the AT&T Byron Nelson. His best score of those four rounds was 3-over 73.

Until his recent skid, the last time Horschel had missed at least four consecutive cuts was his rookie year of 2011, when he missed five, starting with the Nelson.

He returned this year because he felt he was on the verge of a swing cure. He wanted another week to test it under pressure. Proof came in rounds of 68-65-66-69.

“I was not a fan of this golf course the first two times I came here and then I come here and I was like, ‘wow, why did I not like this course?’” Horschel said.  “This course really fits my game from tee to green.”

Horschel carded a 1-under 69 on Sunday; Day shot 68. Day took the lead after chipping in 15, but Horschel recovered from bogeys on 12 and 13 with birdies on 14 and 16.

Neither could break the tie on the 72nd hole, so they returned to 18. Day’s birdie putt rolled four feet past the hole. Horschel almost made his 19-footer, needing only to tap in for par. Day’s par putt stayed left of the hole.

“I played some good solid golf,” said Day, who entered with only one top-10 finish. “It’s a little disappointing but it’s not the first tournament I’m going to lose. I’ve got to try to get better from this experience and I feel good about my game.”

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