D-FW Metroplex Set For Nelson, Colonial PGA Stops

Let's see, in Dallas the Byron Nelson Classic has a commitment from Tiger Woods for the fifth straight year, but in Fort Worth at this year's Colonial, the defending champion is Phil Mickelson.

Not bad drawing cards.

Add Hal Sutton, who just won the Shell Houston Open, and Dallasite Justin Leonard, who finished fourth there, and you have great lineups for the annual classics.

Tiger won't be in the Dallas area long, however, as Colonial starts the week following the Nelson, he will be in Germany for a seven-figure appearance fee for a European Tour event.

The 2001 Verizon Byron Nelson Classic, entering its 34th year, is set for May 7-13. It's played at the Tournament Players Club at Las Colinas in Irving and has been a sellout for the past four years. It has one of the best purses on tour at $4.5 million.

The Byron Nelson Classic is the 12th oldest regular PGA golf tournament, starting back in 1944.

Last year Jesper Parnevik parred the third extra hole to defeat Davis Love III and Mickelson in a three-way playoff.

"The best thing about this tournament has always been that all of the proceeds go towards helping children and families," said Byron Nelson. "The partnership we have with the players and sponsors is very important to us and is vital to the success of raising money for this wonderful cause."

Verizon is a new sponsor, but is expected to run only two years when EDS might become the title sponsor in 2003.

For tickets to the Byron Nelson Classic call 214-742-3896, but hurry, they expect a sellout.

In Fort Worth, the MasterCard Colonial announced its overall 2001 tournament purse has been hiked to $4 million and the first-place prize to $720,000. The event is scheduled May 14-20. The MasterCard Colonial is the longest running PGA tournament still held at its original site, the historic Colonial Country Club golf course. Colonial will be hosting its 55th championship event this year

Sergio Garcia, the 21-year-old from Spain, was an early commitment. He finished 42nd on the PGA money list a year ago with his $1,054,338. At 19 years, eight months and 15 days, Garcia, became the youngest participant ever in Ryder Cup Play in 1999.

Other standouts expected to join Garcia at the MasterCard Colonial are Mark Calcavecchia, Joe Durant, a two-time winner, Brad Faxon, Jim Furyk, Davis Love Ill, Scott McCarron, and Garrett Willis. Mickelson is one of 16 past MasterCard Colonial winners in the 2001 field.

Last year, when Phil Mickelson started the back nine on the final day he thought his chances to win were thin. He began the final round six shots behind the leader, and had lost another shot after hitting into a bunker and taking a bogey 5 on No. 9.

"I got off to a good start and was thinking a lot about winning," said Mickelson. "When I made the turn, I tried not to think about winning. I tried to hit some good golf shots because I was too far behind to win."

Mickelson birdied three consecutive holes to start the back nine.

Mickelson's 63, including five of his day's eight birdies on the back nine, was enough to win. His birdie putt of more than 20 feet on 18 sealed the deal, ending with a 12-under 268 total, two strokes ahead of Stewart Cink and Davis Love III.

The MasterCard Colonial ticket office, 817-927-4280, is open Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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