Byron Nelson: His Last Interview

A look back at his milestone moments

1912 - John Byron Nelson Jr. is born Feb. 4 on a cotton farm in Long Branch, Texas.

1923 - His family moves to Forth Worth; 11-year-old Byron contracts typhoid fever and nearly dies.

1924 - Becomes a caddie and learns to play at Glen Garden Country Club in Ft. Worth.

1927 - Squares off with another promising young player in the final of the Glen Garden caddie club championship. Nelson wins. His opponent? Ben Hogan.

1928 - Drops out of 10th grade and takes a job with the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway as a file clerk. A year later, in the midst of the Depression, he is laid off. "If it hadn't been for the Depression," Nelson once said, "I'd probably just be a retired railroad worker."

1931 - Leaves Texas for the first time to play in the U.S. Amateur in Chicago; fails to advance to match play.

1932 - Turns professional at the Texarkana Open.

1935 - Takes an assistant pro job for the summer at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey; earns $400. Wins the New Jersey State Open, his first victory as a pro.

1937 - Wins his first of two Masters, shooting a back-nine 32 on Sunday. Golf writer O.B. Keeler dubs him "Lord Byron" because, he says, Nelson's grace reminded him of a piece of poetry Lord Byron wrote about Napoleon at Waterloo. The name sticks.

1939 - Wins the U.S. Open at Philadelphia Country Club.

1940 - Becomes the pro at Inverness Country Club in Ohio; wins first of two PGA Championships, defeating Sam Snead in the 36-hole final at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club.

1941 - Logs 22 top-10 finishes in Tour events.

1942 - Wins his second Masters, edging Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff.

1944 - Wins nine times and places in the top 10 in 23 consecutive events; named the AP's Sportsman of the Year.

1945 - Wins 18 times, including 11 straight; again named AP Sportsman of the year.

1946 - At 34, retires from fulltime professional golf after saving enough to buy a 630-acre ranch in Roanoke, Texas.

1957 - Begins broadcast career as a golf analyst with CBS. He later works for ABC.

1965 - Captains the U.S. Ryder Cup team to victory.

1966 - Plays his final Masters.

1968 - Lends his name to the fledging Dallas Open. The event becomes the Byron Nelson Golf Classic.

1974 - Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

2001 - Hits the ceremonial first tee shot at the Masters in his final year as an honorary starter.

2006 - Dies at 94, on Sept. 26, of natural causes, at his ranch in Roanoke; posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his philanthropy.

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