By Josh Staph
Byron Nelson, one of the best golfers the game has ever seen, won 54 PGA Tour eventsincluding two Masters Tournaments, two PGA Championships and one U.S. Openin only 12 years. Although he ranks fifth on the all-time wins list, he is mostly remembered for his records of 11 consecutive and 18 total victories in one season (1945)records most observers consider unbreakable. Nelson retired at the age of 34 to be a rancher, later becoming a commentator and lending his name to the Byron Nelson Championship, the first PGA Tour event named for a professional golfer.
Long before he walked fairways lined with thousands of adoring fans, Nelson took to the links in solitude at Glen Garden Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, as a 12-year-old caddy. Club policy then forbade caddies from playing the course, so Nelson would sneak on at night, after everyone had left, placing a white handkerchief over the holes so he could see where to putt. His play in the dark so elevated his game that when he finally had the luxury of light, he was virtually unbeatable.
Glen Garden eventually let its caddies play in a club caddy tournament. Nelson put his polished skills on display as he battled another young caddy named Ben Hogan. The two were tied after 18 holes, but Nelson outlasted his future PGA rival by one stroke after a grueling nine-hole playoff.
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