Golf: 2012 HP Byron Nelson Championship

HP Byron Nelson Championship raises $5.37 million

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
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The Salesmanship Club Charitable Golf of Dallas announced that the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship raised $5.37 million for Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers. That's a total of more than $127 million since the tournament started.

More from the Nelson's official release:

Funds generated from the Championship benefit Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers, a nonprofit organization that provides innovative education programs and therapeutic services for more than 7,000 troubled and at-risk children and their families in the greater Dallas area each year. The Salesmanship Club provides the majority of SCYFC’s operating budget, primarily through the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

“Throughout the long months of planning for this successful event we kept our focus on one thing: why we do this,” said Robert Smith, 2012 tournament chairman. “Kids are at the heart of everything we do at the Salesmanship Club, and I’m proud that this event has such a tremendous positive impact on children and families in our community. I’m grateful to our title sponsor, HP, and the many sponsors, patrons and volunteers at our Championship who are such a big part of helping us transform kids’ lives.”

Nelson dates to stay the same in 2013

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
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IRVING, Texas -- The HP Byron Nelson Championship will be on the schedule for the same week in 2013 as it was this year, according to Nelson tourament director Jon Drago. That means the tournament is slated for May 13-19, 2013.

“The week after the Players works well for us,” Drago said. “We just finished up a great tournament this week, and the date worked well for our title sponsor, the players, and the community.”

The Nelson should still follow The Players Championship. The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is expected to be the week after the Nelson for the second consecutive season.

The Salesmanship Club, which hosts the Nelson, will also host the Nationwide Tour Championship Oct. 25 to 28 at TPC Craig Ranch.

Jason Dufner's caddie wins a Caddy

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
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IRVING, Texas -- Jason Dufner's caddie, Kevin Baile, had no idea that Dufner's win also meant he was driving off in a new Cadillac.

The caddie of the winner at the HP Byron Nelson Championship wins a Cadillac, starting in 2010 with Tony Navarro, who was on Adam Scott's bag at the time. Steve "Pepsi" Hale won the car last year when Keegan Bradley took home the trophy.

Baile is driving a 2003 Chevy Tahoe and was in need of an upgrade.

"I don't think he knew, but he definitely needed a new car," Dufner said. "That Tahoe he has at home is pretty beat up. Hopefully, he will be driving that car around Auburn and can get rid of that Tahoe."

Baile was pumped up when he found out.

"I've been looking for a new ride in the last couple of weeks," Baile said. "I know a couple of car salesmen friends that aren't going to be happy."

Par-3s frame day for J.J. Henry

May, 20, 2012
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IRVING, Texas -- Two par-3s at TPC Four Seasons framed the day for Fort Worth’s J.J. Henry.

In spectacular fashion, Henry grabbed the HP Byron Nelson final-round lead by making a hole-in-one on No. 5.

Henry’s lead was still one when he reached No. 17. But after a disastrous double bogey, Henry had to settle for a four-way share of third place at 9-under.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing,’’ Henry said. “It’s tough to be that close and to have it within your grasp with two holes left to play.’’

The root of Henry’s problem on the 198-yard No. 17 was a tee shot that carried beyond the green.

“I played great all day, and to be honest, I thought I hit a great shot on 17. I hit the line exactly where I tried to, and it carried about six or seven yards too far. I thought I hit a good shot, but the golf gods thought otherwise.

“I was a little pumped up, making two birdies in a row on 15 and 16, and I was trying to hit it exactly where I did, just left of the hole and putt up the hill. Probably a little adrenaline flowing.’’

After an indifferent chip, Henry three-putted for a five, missing a four-foot bogey putt.

Henry’s hole-in-one at No. 5 came with a pitching wedge from 154 yards.

“I guess I’m buying drinks today, anyway,’’ he said. “We will take the positives and hopefully carry it over next week at Colonial.’’

Marc Leishman, Jonas Blixt fade at No. 17

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
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IRVING, Texas -- Comments from a couple of young gun HP Byron Nelson contenders that came up a little short in Sunday’s final round:

*Marc Leishman (9-under, tied for third): “This was a great week for me. Anytime you can have a crack at a win on Sunday, it‘s a lot of fun and hopefully I can do it again soon. I hit the ball well all day, but my three-putt on No. 17 was costly. I left it in a tough spot behind the hole.

“I had a couple of good chances on No. 11 and 12, which I just left short in the middle.’’

It was Leishman’s third top-12 finish at the Nelson.

*Jonas Blixt (9-under, tied for third): “It’s getting better and better, to get to know yourself and how to respond to the pressure that you have. It’s a feeling that you never really feel unless you are here. When I got the eagle [at No. 7] going I felt like maybe if I can get a couple of more birdies going I might have a chance.’’

Like Leishman, Blixt had a momentum-crushing bogey at No. 17. Blixt's tee shot on the par-3 flew the green, leaving him a difficult downhill chip of 82 feet that he failed to get within 20 feet of the cup.

Durant takes advantage of final berth

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
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IRVING, Texas -- Joe Durant, the last player to gain entry into the HP Byron Nelson Championship, said he owes fellow PGA Tour pro Joe Ogilvie a case of wine.

When illness forced Ogilvie to withdraw Thursday prior to the opening round, Durant’s place in the tournament was finally secure.

The 48-year-old parlayed his opportunity into a four-way tie for third, thanks to matching 65s on the weekend. He finished at 9-under, two shots behind the winner, Jason Dufner.

“It wasn't looking promising but Joe Ogilvie, bless his heart, pulled out for me,’’ Durant said. “I shook his hand on the driving range Thursday and told him I was sorry he was sick. He told me to go take advantage and play well.

“I was fortunate to have a chance. The only thing they had to change was the last name of the pairing sheet.''

It was a hectic three days for Durant, who traveled to Greenville, S.C., for a Nationwide event early in the week, but returned to Dallas when he learned he was next on the Nelson’s alternate list. En route, he left his car at the Atlanta airport.

The Florida resident bogeyed two of his first three holes Sunday, then heated up with three birdies and an eagle in a four-hole stretch.

“I started to feel some momentum come my way after that,’’ Durant said. “I don‘t find this course to be easy at all. If you can give yourself 20-footers for birdie, you’re ahead of the game and I was rolling it pretty well.’’

Durant in seven previous Nelsons never finished higher than a tie for 41st in 2010.

Jason Dufner wins with dramatic putt

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
5:17
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IRVING, Texas -- Jason Dufner had the look of a winner the entire 18th hole. He knew that Dicky Pride, trying to get his first win since his only PGA Tour victory in 1994, had made a terrific par after hitting in the water off the tee to finish at 10-under. So Dufner crushed a drive 314 yards right down the center of the fairway. He then hit his second shot 25 feet away from a tucked pin and calmly and confidently made the birdie putt to win the 2012 HP Byron Nelson Championship.

"I assumed Dicky's putt was for birdie, but my caddie told me otherwise," Dufner said. "I knew we were tied after I hit the tee shot. That bunker is a good aiming point and I've been swinging well with the driver, so I was comfortable with that. I was surprised how far I got out there. I don't think I've hit sand wedge into that hole, 110 yards in."

[+] EnlargeJason Dufner
Jim Cowsert/US PresswireJason Dufner holed a long birdie putt on No. 18 to win his second PGA Tour title this season.
Dufner said he didn't want to get "crazy aggressive," but also wanted to leave himself a putt he thought he could make.

"I knew if I made birdie that I would win, par would be a playoff, but playoffs aren't much fun," said Dufner, who is 1-2 in playoffs in his career. "When I stepped up to the putt, I just had a good idea of what it was going to do and felt like I could make it."

The putt avoided an Auburn vs. Alabama playoff, too. Pride, an unabashed Tide man, didn't hesitate to reference the good-natured rivalry between the two in his post-round interview.

"He went to Auburn, but at least he married a woman that went to Alabama," said Pride, referring to Amanda. The two were married earlier this month. "She can show him around."

Pride, 42, also joked that at least Alabama won last year's BCS title, college football's ultimate prize. But he also mentioned that Dufner was the first guy to step up and tell Pride he'd bring a team of golfers to Tuscaloosa (home of Alabama's campus) last year to help with tornado relief fundraising efforts.

But on Sunday, it was Dufner's resolve and ability to finish down the stretch that made the difference as others faltered. J.J. Henry, wearing his TCU purple, led the tournament with two holes to play until a double bogey at No. 17 ended his chances. Marc Leishman and Jonas Blixt stood at 10-under until a bogey at that pesky penultimate hole did him in. Pride birdied the 17th, but appeared to hand the tournament to Dufner, too, when his tee shot trickled into the water on No. 18.

"I was proud of how I hit the ball where I had a putt and that I made it," Pride said. "Apparently, that was not a very difficult putt."

Pride laughed as he said it, noting that Dufner's birdie putt came from essentially the same area.

It's difficult to imagine 35-year-old Dufner executing the way he did down the stretch without the confidence of doing it when it mattered three weeks ago in New Orleans. Dufner had put himself in position before, but wasn't able to close the deal. He did that in New Orleans and managed to do it again Sunday, with birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 to earn the one-stroke victory.

"The biggest thing I learned about New Orleans is staying patient out there," Dufner said. "There were times in New Orleans where I felt like I was out of it, then there was no way I was going to lose, then I was out of it and you get these flip-flopping emotions. Today I didn't have that as much. I always felt I was in there, I just needed a little something to happen, to go my way."

Dufner has had a memorable spring. He was the leader at the halfway point of The Masters, but a pair of 75s on the weekend had him tied for 24th. Still, it was a confidence builder. He got the win in New Orleans in April and now has a victory at TPC Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas. In the midst of it all he got married.

"You probably couldn't dream it any better than what's been going on here," Dufner said. "The wedding has been in the works for close to a year, so we know that's been coming around the corner, and there's been a lot of good golf since then. But to win two events and get married in the span of 22 days, pretty remarkable. Amanda and I are lucky to be in the position we're in and to have each other and enjoy what's going on around us right now."

Dufner isn't one to show much excitement. He had a very subtle fist pump and a quick wave when the winning putt went in. That's just part of his style. Does he ever get extra expressive?

"Here and there a couple of times a year," Dufner said. "Usually there is some alcohol involved or Auburn football, but for the most part I'm laid back."

Dufner's plan after the win: Check into his hotel in Fort Worth, have some dinner and move on to the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Dufner becomes the second two-time winner in 2012, joining Hunter Mahan. He's now made the cut in 11 straight events. His only missed cut was the first tournament of the season, the Sony Open in January. Maybe a major win is next.

"He's a really good player," Pride said of Dufner. Pride clapped for Dufner when his winning putt went in. "I think we're all seeing that, we've known that, now he's just winning tournaments. But I have a lot of respect for Jason. I'm happy for Jason."

Country tune has Duke humming to a 66

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
3:54
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IRVING, Texas -- Ken Duke was humming the country tune “Neon Moon’’ while posting a final-round 4-under 66 and a top-10 finish at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

“My caddie and I went over to Billy Bob’s Saturday night to relax for awhile,’’ said Duke. “I listen to a lot of country music and Ronnie Dunn is one of my favorites. That song was in my head all day.’’

Duke had a great start on his first nine, recording five birdies in a six-hole stretch. He played the second nine in even par.

“I’ve got to find a way to improve coming down the stretch or earlier in the week,’’ Duke said. “But my caddies and I are working on it.’’

Mickelson's charge ends with pair of bogeys

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
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IRVING, Texas -- Phil Mickelson's final-round charge in the HP Byron Nelson Championship ended with disappointing bogeys on the final two holes.

Mickelson finished with a 4-under round of 66. After going to 8-under after a birdie on No. 16, Mickelson finished at 6-under and is currently tied for eighth.

Five players are tied for the lead at 9-under: Joe Durant, Jonas Blixt, Marc Leishman, J.J. Henry and Jason Dufner.

Dicky Pride is a shot back in sixth at 8-under and Jason Day is seventh at 7-under. The final group has five holes remaining.

Mickelson in contention after birdie run of 4

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
1:05
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IRVING, Texas -- To the delight of his sizable Sunday gallery, Phil Mickelson is mounting a final-round charge at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

Mickelson recorded four consecutive birdies, beginning on No. 5, and played the first nine in four-under 31. He began the day tied for 21st, six shots off the lead. He has moved into a tie for fourth, two strokes behind leader J. J. Henry of Fort Worth.

Jason Day and Dicky Pride after three holes are tied for second at 7-under.

Overnight leader Jason Dufner suffered bogeys at No. 2 and 3 and has dropped back to 6-under.

Mickelson, the 1996 Nelson champion, converted birdie putts of 11 feet at No. 5 and No. 7, seven feet at No. 6 and 30 feet at No. 8.

Traditional pin positions on Nos. 17 and 18

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
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IRVING, Texas -- As expected, the two finishing holes at the HP Byron Nelson Championship have their traditional locations.

On the par-3 17th, where a large crowd is assembling as groups start coming through there, the hole is front right, just over the water. And water should come into play on the difficult par-4 18th hole as well, with the pin sitting front left.

It should make for some exciting final holes later today.

Points, Duke off to hot final-round starts

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
11:49
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IRVING, Texas -- D.A. Points and Ken Duke are making upward moves on the HP Byron Nelson leader board.

Points played his first nine in 4-under, recording five birdies and a bogey.

Duke is 4-under after seven holes after four consecutive birdies, beginning at No. 4.

Duke is two strokes out of the lead and Points trails by three. Tournament leader, Jason Dufner, still a half-hour away from beginning his final round.

Players that started early are taking advantage of calm early-morning conditions. Of the nine finishers so far, seven have finished at par or better. Alex Cejka has the low round so far, a 5-under 65.

Ryuji Imada quick with Tyler buddy on bag

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
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IRVING, Texas -- Ryuji Imada teed off on Sunday morning with no one in front of him and no one playing with him. The Japanese golfer, with a buddy from Tyler, Texas, on the bag with him, sped around TPC Four Seasons Resort & Club in 2 hours, 8 minutes. And he was disappointed in that time.

"It's not bad, but I've played in 1 hour, 47 minutes before at Hilton Head," Imada said. "I like to play fast, so it's good for me."

Imada posted a 1-over 71 at that brisk pace as his regular caddie watched from outside the ropes. Imada saw a buddy of his, Nick Meads, from Tyler, Texas, on the first tee and asked if he wanted to caddie for him. Meads is a 17-year-old who is heading to Baylor and hopes to walk-on the golf team.

"I've known him for a while and always watch him here," Meads said. "My dad played with him at a pro-am here a while ago and we got to know each other. It was fun to be out there."

Meads joked that Imada blamed him for any errant shot, saying he wasn't reading putts right or giving him the correct yardage. They jabbed each other all day as they quickly made their way around the course.

W2W4: 14 guys within 4 strokes of lead

May, 20, 2012
5/20/12
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IRVING, Texas -- It should be a fun final round with so many players bunched up on the leaderboard, hoping to pass Jason Dufner for a victory. Here are some things to keep an eye on:

* Wind. It's not supposed to blow quite as hard, but we should get some 10 to 15 mph winds and gusts that could hit 20 mph or so. That's enough to impact shots and make certain holes difficult.

Those holes would include No. 11, where if the wind blows across like it did Saturday, it could give players a chance to go for the green knowing they'll get help from the wind in keeping the ball out of the water. The downside: It can blow balls across the road and cause big numbers. Just ask Keegan Bradley, who likely had his tournament hopes dashed Saturday with a triple bogey on the hole.

* Early bird gets the worm. If you want to see someone play fast, check out Ryuji Imada. He's first off at 7:10 a.m. and is playing by himself (or with a marker if he chooses). Imada shot 79 on Saturday after shooting 67-68 the first two rounds.

* Players to watch early in the round: Jhonny Vegas (7:26 a.m.), Nick O'Hern (8:06 a.m.), Ricky Barnes (8:22 a.m.), Brian Davis (8:39 a.m.) and Todd Hamilton (former British Open winner from Westlake, Texas, tees off at 8:48 a.m.).

* Players will go off No. 1 tee all day in twosomes. Phil Mickelson, still the biggest draw of this event, tees off at 10:45 a.m. and is playing with Shane Bertsch.

* Six of the final 10 pairings include someone from Texas. That includes Fort Worth's J.J. Henry, who plays with Dufner in the final group starting at 12:15 p.m. Expect to see plenty of purple as TCU fans will be cheering on Henry. His caddie, Pete Jordan, also played golf at TCU.

* Vijay Singh is one of the bigger names on the leaderboard and is back in contention. He'll be in the third-to-last group with Jonas Blixt. They tee off at 11:57 a.m. If Singh continues to putt well, he'll have a chance as he sits two back of the leader.

* Three players to watch that are four strokes back: Ryan Palmer, Matt Kuchar and Bradley. They'll tee off right after one another (starting with Palmer at 11:12 a.m.)

* 2010 champion Jason Day is one back of the leader and fell behind because of a bogey at No. 18.

* Dufner will be tough to beat. He's used to being in the lead and taking care of business, as his win three weeks ago at New Orleans showed. He had a top-10 finish here last year.

Neighbors lose ground in final pairing

May, 19, 2012
5/19/12
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IRVING, Texas -- The day didn’t go as planned for Colleyville residents Chad Campbell and Ryan Palmer in the final pairing of the HP Byron Nelson Championship on Saturday.

Palmer shot a 2-over 72 and Campbell was one back at 73.

“It’s always nice to play with guys you know,'' Palmer said. "I hit the ball pretty well. Unfortunately, I had the worst putting day I’ve had in a while. I wasn’t able to get the speed right.’’

The backyards of Palmer and Campbell in their North Texas suburb are only 500 yards apart. Palmer calls Campbell his best friend on Tour. They were joined in the final grouping by Jason Dufner.

“When one person starts making birdies, it usually gets the others going, too. But nobody in our group ever got it going today,’’ Palmer said.

Said Campbell: “I always enjoy playing with Ryan, unfortunately neither one of us had a very good day.

“It was tough out there. I got off to a bad start, fought back, and struggled coming in, bogeying the last two.’’

Palmer (4-under) is paired with Jason Bohn in Sunday's final round with an 11:12 a.m. start. Campbell (3-under) and Padraig Harrington are scheduled for a 10:54 start.

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