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Lanny Wadkins on winning the ’73 Byron Nelson, the one that slipped away and why he stopped playing the Colonial


The outdated saying for many who’ve relocated to the Lone Star state is “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.”

That’s definitely the case for Lanny Wadkins, a Virginia native who has maintained a residence in the Dallas-Fort Worth space for many years.

It’s no shock Wadkins has felt at residence in the DFW — his second PGA Tour victory, one that solidified his standing as one of the sport’s nice rising gamers, got here at the 1973 Byron Nelson Classic when he edged Dan Sikes in a playoff.

We caught up with Wadkins earlier this week in Dallas at a Golfweek Raters occasion at Las Colinas Country Club.

Golfweek: Tell us your recollections of that 1973 victory at the Byron Nelson (then performed at Preston Trail Golf Course):

Lanny Wadkins: I gained in ’72, which was my rookie 12 months. I gained in Las Vegas, and for my first win, I’d overwhelmed Arnold Palmer by a shot, so then right here at the Nelson, I used to be playing properly coming in. I’d completed fifth the week earlier than the Tournament of Champions in La Costa. So, I knew I used to be playing properly. I got here right here and had an ideal week driving the ball. The final day was actually windy. I used to be three again then I feel I birdied 5 of the final seven holes on the final day and thought I’d gained the factor, however Dan Sikes holed a few 40-footer from simply off the again fringe of the inexperienced on 18 to tie me.

Then I gained on the first sudden-death gap, which was 15 again then. They went to fifteen as a result of that’s the place TV began.

GW: What did that win imply for you?

LW: I used to be playing rather well. In reality, I went to Houston subsequent week and completed third, so I had a fifth, a primary and a 3rd proper in a row as a 23-year-old.

So it sort of put me up there. I completed fifth on the cash record that 12 months. I completed tenth my first 12 months, which was technically speculated to be my senior 12 months at Wake Forest, since I left a 12 months early. I used to be tenth on the cash record and so it labored out properly. But like with something — you undergo one thing the place you’re feeling your means via.

Lanny Wadkins talks to a bunch of Golfweek Raters throughout an occasion at Las Colina Country Club. Wadkins gained the 1973 Byron Nelson Classic. (Photo by Tim Schmitt/Golfweek)

GW: To win in your sophomore season on the Tour, did you sort of really feel like, “hey, wait a minute, this isn’t a fluke. I belong here.”

LW: I imply, I felt I did anyway. I used to be runner-up at the Heritage in 1970 after I was U.S. Amateur champ. So I had completed second at a PGA Tour occasion as an novice. I completed thirteenth in a U.S. Open as an novice. So, I knew I might play earlier than I obtained on the market — that’s why I went on the market. So I used to be settled in.

GW: So, now let’s come full circle. In 1983, you suppose you’re going to win at the Nelson once more. What occurred?

LW: Yeah, properly that was the first 12 months they moved it (to TPC-Las Colinas). I performed properly there a lot of instances. And when it went to Las Colinas, I completed prime two or three a number of instances.

I misplaced to Payne Stewart by a shot one 12 months (in 1990) and in ’83, the first 12 months we moved the Nelson to Las Colinas. I really had the 54-hole lead. I’d gained at La Costa in the Tournament of Champions. I gained that so I used to be coming in right here pondering, you understand, I used to be playing properly, they only moved the event.

I knew the course. I had the 54-hole lead. You know, I assumed I would take down back-to-back wins, however I didn’t do it. Ben Crenshaw performed nice on the remaining day and I feel I ended up ending third. That’s one I actually thought I had.

GW: So when a event like this retains transferring — and it’s in its first 12 months at TPC Craig Ranch — does that lose its luster for you, personally? Or doesn’t it actually matter?

LW: I feel they’ve been attempting to determine it out. I feel, you understand, they needed to transfer away from Preston Trail. We didn’t have the room for something on the market anymore. We had no room for parking. The neighborhood was rising up. The measurement of the venue wasn’t giant sufficient and the footprint obtained a lot bigger at Las Colinas as a result of ultimately, they’d 36 holes of this so that gave them ample room and they even used each programs throughout the event a number of instances. It gave them different venues for pro-ams and they’d loads of room on the market for company hospitality, so all of it labored, you understand. The company hospitality is a giant a part of it right now, you’ve obtained to take that into consideration whenever you’re planning a PGA Tour occasion.

I used to be stunned by the transfer to Trinity Forest and I’m not stunned by the transfer out to Craig Ranch. I consider Craig Ranch — it’s a Tom Weiskopf course — it’s an excellent easy golf course. I feel it’s going to be a superb venue for the event. I feel the gamers will find it irresistible. Right down the street in Frisco there’s inns, there’s eating places, there’s, you understand, 10 to fifteen minutes away there’s every part in the world you could possibly need, so I feel all in all it’s a beautiful spot for the event.

Lanny Wadkins on the vary on Wednesday throughout the PNC Father/Son Challenge at The Ritz Carlton Golf Club of Orlando.

GW: You now have an fascinating perspective, you had been a participant at a time when it was all about the golf course, pure and easy. People got here to tournaments for the course. Now, it’s way more about the staging and the hospitality and TV. Do you see a distinction in the means gamers deal with their schedules?

LW: The gamers are nonetheless coming due to the golf course and how they how the course fits them. The gamers themselves aren’t coming due to the hospitality, proper? I imply now this with the Nelson, it’ll be a much bigger venue, a much bigger present on Tour, if you’ll. Like Phoenix, for instance, is usually it’s a present. It’s a taking place.

GW: Would you have got modified your schedule should you performed right now?

LW: My schedule at all times revolved round if I preferred the golf course. Did I play it properly? I imply whenever you get right down to the backside line, it’s a enterprise and you’ve obtained to earn a living. I’m not going to go someplace the place I miss the lower yearly. That doesn’t make sense to go spend $5,000 of your personal cash to make nothing, proper?

So I imply even right here in Dallas after I was dwelling right here, I used to be having a run at Colonial the place I simply performed horribly. I really like the golf course, however I performed horrible at Colonial. I missed the lower yearly. So lastly, in ’86 and ’87, I simply didn’t play Colonial. Even although I used to be right here, I didn’t play Colonial. I went again in ’88 and gained. I hadn’t made the lower there in perpetually however I wanted a break from it. And I went again an ’88 and gained, and then performed good there from then on.

GW: How come?

LW: I do not know. I really like the course. I like the grasses. I imply, I’m right here. I simply went over there the first 12 months again in ’88 and had a superb first spherical, I feel I shot a 67, and was like now I can shoot a rating right here. And that’s all I wanted. I simply wanted to know that I might and then it was OK.

I shot a 65 in the final spherical and gained it.

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