Larry Nelson - U.S.A. - Biography of his golfing career.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 16 July 1980

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      Wednesday, 10 September 1947
      Fort Payne, Alabama, U.S.A.
  • U.S.A.
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Larry NELSON - U.S.A. - Biography of his golfing career.

                                                  1974-80. Great year of 1979.

Larry Nelson enjoyed a superb career - three majors, a magnificent Ryder Cup record and numerous Tour victories - yet he did not pick up a golf club until he was 21 years of age. Just two years later he turned professional and in 1974 qualified for the US Tour. By 1976 he had made the top 60 in the money list and he did so with ease for the next couple of years. It was 1979,however,that was the real breakthrough year for the man from Alabama as he won his first Tour event,at the Inverrary Classic,and added to that with victory at the Western Open. Nelson also turned in a fine performance at the US Open,played at Inverness,to finish in 4th place,four strokes behind the winner Hale Irwin.


His splendid form earned him his first Ryder Cup appearance - and what a debut it was! Five matches and five wins as the Americans cruised to a 17-11 victory over the first ever European team. By the end of the week Europe's bright young hope Seve Ballesteros,who had won the Open Championship earlier that year,must have been positively fed up of the sight of Nelson as he suffered four defeats in four matches at the hands of the American newcomer. Included in Nelson's five victories were a 5&4 thrashing that he and Lanny Wadkins handed out to Ballesteroes and Antonio Garrido whilst in the singles Larry eased to a comfortable 3&2 success over the young Spaniard. Nelson added the Atlanta Golf Classic to his list of Tour victories the following year and there was also a useful showing at the Masters,where he finished in a tie for 6th place at five under par. (David Scranage)


 Photo of Larry Nelson taken 17th July 1983.      © G. Herringshaw.

                            1981-83. First major at 1981 PGA followed by '83 US Open


Larry Nelson enjoyed a fine year in 1981,with success at the Greater Greensboro' and,more importantly,the PGA Championship. Fittingly for Nelson that PGA triumph was at his hometown course of Atlanta Athletic Club and came courtesy of a four stroke victory from Fuzzy Zoeller. Larry opened the event steadily enough with a level par 70 and then fired two excellent middle rounds of 66,followed by a closing effort of 71 to secure his first major championship. Nelson made the winning 1981 Ryder Cup team and carried on where he had left off in '79 with four straight wins to take his record to an astonishing played nine,won nine.


Larry was denied the opportunity of making it ten wins out of ten when captain Dave Marr rested him for the first day four-balls in the match played at Walton Heath,Surrey. Nelson failed to win a Tour event in 1982 and the following year he had been having a poor season when he came from nowhere to capture the US Open title. His opening rounds of 75 and 73 had left him seven strokes adrift of the lead but a brilliant third round 65 brought him back into the shake-up. It was a battle between he and Tom Watson on the final day and Nelson finally got the better of his fellow American to win by one stroke. The turning point came at the par-3 16th hole where Larry holed a magnificent birdie putt of over 60 feet on his way to carding a 67,compared to Watson's closing round of 69. (David Scranage)