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Larry Gene Nelson (born September 10, 1947) is an American professional golfer who has won numerous tournaments at both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour level.

Larry Nelson
Personal information
Full nameLarry Gene Nelson
Born (1947-09-10) September 10, 1947 (age 72)
Fort Payne, Alabama
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight150 lb (68 kg; 11 st)
Nationality United States
ResidenceMarietta, Georgia
Career
CollegeKennesaw Junior College
Turned professional1971
Current tour(s)Champions Tour
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Professional wins41
Highest ranking12 (July 17, 1988)[1]
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour10
Japan Golf Tour4
PGA Tour Champions19 (tied 10th all time)
Other8
Best results in major championships
(wins: 3)
Masters Tournament5th: 1984
PGA ChampionshipWon: 1981, 1987
U.S. OpenWon: 1983
The Open ChampionshipT12: 1980
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame2006 (member page)

Nelson was born in Fort Payne, Alabama and grew up in Acworth, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta. He did not play the game as a child – atypical for a successful professional golfer – in high school he focused on basketball and baseball. Nelson took up golf at the age of 21, after he returned from serving in the infantry in Vietnam (Nelson was a 20-year-old newlywed when he was drafted into the U.S. Army).[2] Nelson was first introduced to golf by Ken Hummel, a soldier and friend in his infantry unit, and Nelson carefully studied Ben Hogan's book The Five Fundamentals of Golf while learning how to play the game.[3] He soon discovered that he had a talent for the game, breaking 100 the first time he played and 70 within nine months. Nelson went on to graduate from Kennesaw Junior College in 1970 and turned professional the following year. He qualified for the PGA Tour at 27. Nelson's breakthrough year came in 1979, when he won twice and finished second on the money list to Tom Watson.

Nelson won 10 times on the PGA Tour, including three major championships. He earned his first major title at the 1981 PGA Championship, which he won by four strokes. In 1983, Nelson was victorious at the U.S. Open at Oakmont, coming from seven behind at the half-way point to defeat Tom Watson by a single shot. Nelson scored a U.S. Open record 65-67 over the last 36 holes at the difficult Oakmont course, which broke a 51-year Open record established by Gene Sarazen. His 10-under-par 132 record score has yet to be equaled. In 1987, he finished tied with Lanny Wadkins after the regulation 72 holes of PGA Championship, and won the title with a par at the first playoff hole.[4]

Nelson played on the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1979, 1981, and 1987. His record of 9–3–1 is one of the best since the event became USA v Europe in 1979; it had been a perfect 9–0–0 after the first two events.

Nelson also had great success internationally. He won four tournaments on the Japan Golf Tour. Only Tom Watson has won as many events in Japan for an American golfer who never played in Japan full-time. Nelson also finished runner-up at the 1982 Dunlop Phoenix Tournament and the 1987 Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo Masters. Although he never won on the Australasian Tour he finished runner-up at the 1987 New Zealand Open, losing to Northern Ireland's Ronan Rafferty in a playoff.

Since turning 50 in 1997, Nelson has had a successful Champions Tour career, winning 19 times, although he has not won a senior major. He was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in April 2006 and inducted in October 2006.[2] In 2011, Nelson received the PGA Distinguished Service Award from the PGA of America. The award "honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf".[5]

Nelson is also active in golf course design and created the LagRx Swing Trainer to help golfers condition and improve their muscle memory.

Professional wins (41)Edit

PGA Tour wins (10)Edit

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of victory Runner(s)-up
1 Mar 11, 1979 Jackie Gleason-Inverrary Classic −14 (67-69-67-71=274) 3 strokes   Grier Jones
2 Jul 8, 1979 Western Open −2 (71-69-70-76=286) Playoff   Ben Crenshaw
3 Jun 8, 1980 Atlanta Classic −18 (66-69-68-67=270) 7 strokes   Andy Bean,   Don Pooley
4 Apr 5, 1981 Greater Greensboro Open −7 (69-68-69-75=281) Playoff   Mark Hayes
5 Aug 9, 1981 PGA Championship −7 (70-66-66-71=273) 4 strokes   Fuzzy Zoeller
6 Jun 19, 1983 U.S. Open −4 (75-73-65-67=280) 1 stroke   Tom Watson
7 Oct 21, 1984 Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic −22 (66-66-64-70=266) 1 stroke   Hubert Green
8 Aug 9, 1987 PGA Championship (2) −1 (70-72-73-72=287) Playoff   Lanny Wadkins
9 Oct 18, 1987 Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic (2) −20 (68-69-68-63=268) 1 stroke   Morris Hatalsky,   Mark O'Meara
10 Jun 26, 1988 Georgia-Pacific Atlanta Golf Classic (2) −20 (63-66-66-73=268) 1 stroke   Chip Beck

PGA Tour playoff record (3–2)

No. Year Tournament Opponent Result
1 1979 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic   Gil Morgan Lost to birdie on second extra hole
2 1979 Western Open   Ben Crenshaw Won with birdie on first extra hole
3 1981 Greater Greensboro Open   Mark Hayes Won with birdie on second extra hole
4 1987 PGA Championship   Lanny Wadkins Won with par on first extra hole
5 1989 GTE Byron Nelson Classic   Jodie Mudd Lost to birdie on first extra hole

Japan Golf Tour wins (4)Edit

Other wins (2)Edit

Champions Tour wins (19)Edit

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
victory
Runner(s)-up
1 Feb 22, 1998 American Express Invitational −13 (63-69-71=203) 4 strokes   Dave Stockton
2 May 31, 1998 Pittsburgh Senior Classic −12 (65-65-74=204) 5 strokes   Bob Duval
3 Sep 27, 1998 Boone Valley Classic −16 (70-65-65=200) 2 strokes   Graham Marsh
4 Feb 21, 1999 GTE Classic −8 (70-68-67=205) 2 strokes   Bruce Fleisher
5 May 2, 1999 Bruno's Memorial Classic −11 (70-67-68=205) 1 stroke   Dana Quigley
6 Apr 23, 2000 Las Vegas Senior Classic −19 (67-66-64=197) 5 strokes   Bruce Fleisher   Hale Irwin
7 May 28, 2000 Boone Valley Classic (2) −16 (66-66-68=200) 3 strokes   Tom Watson
8 Aug 27, 2000 FleetBoston Classic −13 (67-70-66=203) 4 strokes   Jim Thorpe
9 Sep 3, 2000 Foremost Insurance Championship −18 (66-69-63=198) 3 strokes   Dave Stockton
10 Sep 24, 2000 Bank One Senior Championship −13 (67-68-68=203) 6 strokes   Bill Brask,   Jim Thorpe
11 Oct 1, 2000 Vantage Championship −12 (66-63-69=198) Playoff   Jim Dent,   Gil Morgan
12 Jan 24, 2001 MasterCard Championship −19 (67-64-66=197) 1 stroke   Jim Thorpe
13 Feb 8, 2001 Royal Caribbean Classic 29 pts (6-15-8=29) 1 point   Vicente Fernández
14 Jun 24, 2001 FleetBoston Classic (2) −15 (65-69-67=201) 3 strokes   Bruce Fleisher
15 Jul 8, 2001 Farmers Charity Classic (2) −14 (67-67-68=202) 1 stroke   Jim Ahern
16 Oct 21, 2001 SBC Championship −17 (67-69-63=199) 2 strokes   Bob Gilder,   Gary McCord
17 Sep 14, 2003 Constellation Energy Classic −9 (67-70-70=207) 2 strokes   Jim Dent,   Doug Tewell
18 May 9, 2004 FedEx Kinko's Classic −7 (73-69-67=209) 1 stroke   Bruce Lietzke
19 Oct 10, 2004 Administaff Small Business Classic −14 (68-70-64=202) Playoff   Hale Irwin

Champions Tour playoff record (2–3)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1998 Cadillac NFL Golf Classic   Jim Colbert,   Bob Dickson Dickson won with birdie on first extra hole
2 1998 Kroger Senior Classic   Hugh Baiocchi,   Bob Charles
  Frank Conner,   Bruce Summerhays
Baiocchi won with birdie on second extra hole
3 2000 The Countrywide Tradition   Tom Kite,   Tom Watson Kite won with birdie on sixth extra hole
Nelson eliminated with par on second hole
4 2000 Vantage Championship   Jim Dent,   Gil Morgan Nelson won with birdie on sixth extra hole
Dent eliminated with birdie on first hole
5 2004 Administaff Small Business Classic   Hale Irwin Won with birdie on first extra hole

Other senior wins (6)Edit

Major championshipsEdit

Wins (3)Edit

Year Championship 54 holes Winning score Margin Runner-up
1981 PGA Championship 4 shot lead −7 (70-66-66-71=273) 4 strokes   Fuzzy Zoeller
1983 U.S. Open 1 shot deficit −4 (75-73-65-67=280) 1 stroke   Tom Watson
1987 PGA Championship (2) 3 shot deficit −1 (70-72-73-72=287) Playoff1   Lanny Wadkins

1Defeated Wadkins with a par on the first extra hole.

Results timelineEdit

Tournament 1976 1977 1978 1979
Masters Tournament T31
U.S. Open T21 T54 CUT T4
The Open Championship
PGA Championship T34 T54 T12 T28
Tournament 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
Masters Tournament T6 CUT T7 CUT 5 T36 T36 CUT T33 CUT
U.S. Open T60 T20 T19 1 CUT T39 T35 CUT T62 T13
The Open Championship T12 T32 T53 CUT T56 CUT T48 T13 CUT
PGA Championship CUT 1 CUT T36 CUT T23 CUT 1 T38 T46
Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Masters Tournament 48 55 DQ
U.S. Open T14 T3 CUT T46 CUT CUT
The Open Championship
PGA Championship CUT CUT T28 T56 CUT CUT WD T71 CUT
Tournament 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Masters Tournament
U.S. Open
The Open Championship
PGA Championship CUT CUT CUT
Tournament 2010 2011
Masters Tournament
U.S. Open
The Open Championship
PGA Championship CUT
  Win
  Top 10
  Did not play

CUT = missed the halfway cut (3rd round cut in 1984 Open Championship)
DQ = disqualified
WD = withdrew
"T" indicates a tie for a place.

SummaryEdit

Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 0 1 3 3 14 9
U.S. Open 1 0 1 3 3 8 20 14
The Open Championship 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 6
PGA Championship 2 0 0 2 2 4 27 13
Totals 3 0 1 6 8 17 70 42
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 7 (1978 PGA – 1980 Open Championship)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 2 (1981 PGA – 1982 Masters)

Results in The Players ChampionshipEdit

Tournament 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
The Players Championship CUT T72 T39 T8 T4 T20 DQ CUT T10 CUT T62 CUT CUT CUT CUT T59
Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
The Players Championship T16 T23 CUT CUT T55 CUT T62 CUT CUT
  Top 10

CUT = missed the halfway cut
DQ = disqualified
"T" indicates a tie for a place

U.S. national team appearancesEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Week 29 1988 Ending 17 Jul 1988" (pdf). OWGR. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "World Golf Hall of Fame member bio". Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  3. ^ Reinhard, Paul (June 29, 2000). "Quiet Nelson Set To Make Some Noise". The Morning Call.
  4. ^ "Golf Major Championships". Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  5. ^ "Larry Nelson to receive award from PGA". ESPN. Associated Press. April 13, 2011.

External linksEdit