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TOLEDO'S TEXAN BYRON NELSON, WHO AT TIMES SEEMS TO HAIL FROM TWO PLACES, WAS RIGHT AT HOME IN DURHAM, WINNING HIS FOURTH STRAIGHT

April 03, 1995
April 03, 1995

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April 3, 1995

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TOLEDO'S TEXAN BYRON NELSON, WHO AT TIMES SEEMS TO HAIL FROM TWO PLACES, WAS RIGHT AT HOME IN DURHAM, WINNING HIS FOURTH STRAIGHT

Is there no stopping Byron Nelson, the lanky Texan also known as
the Toledo umbrella man? On the Hope Valley Country Club course in
Durham, N.C., Nelson bided his time for three rounds, giving
players such as Toney Penna, Jim Gauntt and Sam Byrd the
ridiculous notion that one of them might win. Then Nelson went to
the whip. Tied for second place, one stroke back, after 54 holes,
he shot a final-round, five-under-par 65, the only subpar round on
Easter Sunday, shattering the course record by two strokes and
winning the Durham Open by five.

This is an article from the April 3, 1995 issue

That makes four wins in a row for Nelson and seven for the winter
season, which is one more than Sam Snead has. Snead had an
excellent view of Nelson's heroics in Durham -- he played the
final 36 holes with him, finishing tied for eighth, 12 strokes
back. Nelson pocketed $1,333 for the win, in war bonds, of course,
giving him $12,763 for the year.

Prize money was a major topic of debate all week. Recently,
veteran pro Willie Goggin persuaded 30 of his peers to sign a
petition asking for a revision in the distribution of tournament
purses. Goggin, who made $3,495 last year, is suggesting a 30%
reduction in the amounts for first, second and third, so that more
money can be awarded further down the line.

Chairman Jimmy Hines of the PGA Tournament Committee says the
issue will be talked over in May after the winter tour is over,
though personally he's against the idea. Byrd was even more
outspoken. ``Those guys who are squawking could play golf as well
as anyone else if they wanted to,'' he said. ``They just want a
free ride. If they'd quit this wine, women and song business, they
could get in the big money themselves.''

First they'll have to figure out how to beat Nelson. Followers of
his recent exploits may be confused about whether he comes from
Texas or Toledo, because accounts of his recent victories mention
both locations -- sometimes in the same story. Nelson is most
definitely a Texan, born in 1912 in Long Branch, outside
Waxahachie. He and his wife, Louise, owned a 54-acre farm with a
few chickens and cows in Denton, but they have given that to his
parents. What Byron really wants is his own ranch, even though, as
he is quick to admit, he knows little about ranching at the
moment. Every time he earns some prize money, he's likely to say,
``That'll go toward a couple of more acres, or maybe another cow
or two.''

So then, what's all this ``Toledo umbrella man'' business? Until
the start of the year Nelson was the club pro at the Inverness
Country Club in Toledo, and he still represents Inverness on the
tour. Thus in pro tour terminology he is from Toledo, just as Ben
Hogan, another Texan, is from Hershey, Pa., because he has an
affiliation with the Hershey Country Club. One evening some years
ago the Nelsons had dinner with an Inverness club member named
Cloyd Haas, co-owner of Haas-Jordan, a successful manufacturing
company. At the time, golf umbrellas were flimsy and tended to
leak a lot.

Nelson tells this story: ``I told Mr. Haas his company had such
good umbrellas, why couldn't he make a good golf umbrella? A few
weeks later he and I met with the factory manager, and the result
was a large, waterproof model, a bit heavy but better than
anything we were using. I had one made for me and one for Jug
McSpaden. When the boys on the tour saw them, they all wanted to
know where they could get one.''

Haas made Nelson a vice president of marketing. Now, at each
tournament he plays in, Nelson goes to the local department
stores, introduces himself and leaves his card. He reportedly gets
$25 for each call he makes. And that's why he is called the Toledo
umbrella man.

Nelson has been the talk of the winter season. His four
consecutive victories set a PGA record. He'll go for number 5 in
Atlanta this week. The strain of the winning streak is beginning
to show -- Nelson appears to have lost weight, although he insists
he is in perfect health -- but even so, the way Byron is playing,
only a fool would bet against him these days.

B/W PHOTO: WIDE WORLD PHOTOS, INC. The ``umbrella man'' is having a blue-sky year.[Byron Nelson leaning on golf club]B/W PHOTO:[oval emblem with picture of golf club and golf ball with "1945BYRON NELSON" written around the picture]