Fans and even Tour pros circle the old man's cart, jostling for
a look at golf nobility. "Everybody thanks me for being here,
even the players," an amused Byron Nelson said last week at the
GTE Byron Nelson Classic. More than half a century after winning
11 straight tournaments--a feat more formidable than Joe
DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak--Nelson, 86, is spry enough to
have recently signed an apparel contract with Nautica that has a
10-year option. "The clothing people think my name won't die
when I do," says Nelson, who offered a few lively opinions
before driving into the Texas sunset.
On the Woods-Zoeller feud: "I preside over the Masters
champions' dinners, and there was no tension this year.
Everyone, including Tiger and Fuzzy, was free and easy."
On today's game: "In my day, if you hit it hard, you couldn't
hit it straight. That's why I had a three-quarter swing. Now,
players like Woods, [John] Daly and [Davis] Love are taking
advantage of lighter shafts, lengthening their swings and going
full-out. The other big change is in agronomy. Verticut and
aerating machines make the greens so good you can hit it at them
hard, not play run-up shots like we did."
On the future: "Golf will keep growing, but not everyone will be
able to afford it. As the Bible says, you will have poor people
May 24, 1998
With that, Lord Byron rode off, the gallery parting before him.