Jordan Spieth saves the Byron Nelson Championship
Speaking in defense of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Pernice tried to make his case that the tournament was just fine with Spieth as the lead story for the week: “What he’s brought to the tournament this week is exciting. It proves to me and to the people here at the Salesmanship Club and the people at HP that you don’t always need the biggest and the best names to have an exciting and a great week.”
While that’s all well and good, nobody ever expected Spieth to make the cut at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, let alone contend for the tournament well into Sunday afternoon. Spieth’s performance was supposed to be a bonus for a tournament with as much history as the Nelson.
But that wasn’t the case when Sunday’s final round came to a close.
Looking at the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon, you got a great sense of the biggest problem plaguing the tournament over the past couple of years, that being its inability to draw big talent to one of the biggest media markets in the country. This year, Hunter Mahan had the distinct honor of being the player with the highest world golf ranking (17th) in the field. He was the it guy.
The next highest? Y.E. Yang at 19. You know it’s never a good thing when every player in the top-15 in the world golf rankings skips your tournament.
The big question, of course, is why they’ve decided to stay away for the last couple of years. It probably boils down to a number of factors, including the lack of interest in the new redesign of the TPC at Las Colinas, as well as the tournament date that’s been sandwiched between a couple of great tour stops.
It’s tough to justify playing in Irving when you’ve got the Players Championship two weeks prior, and the Colonial and Memorial two weeks after. What used to be a great spot in the schedule has now become the Nelson’s kryptonite.
Assuming Jordan Spieth didn’t get into contention on Sunday, the lead story would have been Jason Day, Blake Adams and Jeff Overton fighting for their first PGA Tour victory. That storyline is far from being must-see tv.
To be completely honest, the Nelson dodged a bullet this year. Instead of trying to justify the flat numbers and average attendance, the tournament was able to boast about a boost in the attendance numbers and a final round that made for compelling television viewing.
But they had a local 16-year-old to thank for making that possible. Come next year, the Nelson might not be so lucky. While the tournament is still a favorite stop for some tour pros, the lack of interest in the tournament is a sure sign that the Byron Nelson’s star is waning.