Byron Nelson H.S. grad Hayden Springer makes special tourney debut

League: Golf

Posted on: 30 Apr, 2024 at 11:27 PM

Credit: Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK

For many years, Hayden Springer attended the PGA Tour event named in honor of Byron Nelson, but only as a spectator.

Springer also has a slightly more special connection to the legendary golfer: his four years attending Byron Nelson High School in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Trophy Club.

After grinding his way onto the PGA Tour, Springer is ready to make his tournament debut at this week's CJ Cup Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.

"It's an exciting week for me because I grew up coming to this tournament, and so I have a lot of memories from when I was really little," Springer said Tuesday. "My dad would take me on Monday or Tuesday, come out to a practice round, and so it's special for me now to get to be playing in this event."

Springer picked up autographs from a previous generation of players, names like Sergio Garcia and Corey Pavin and Tim Herron. He recalled Pavin seeing him "hobbling around" with a fractured ankle one year and going out of his way to sign Springer's hat.

Once it was time for Springer to start high school, he dropped the other sports he was playing to focus exclusively on golf. Byron Nelson High School adopted its namesake because Nelson, who died in 2006, lived on a ranch close to the school.

"He's obviously a big name in golf, you know, historically one of the best," Springer said of the five-time major winner who once won 11 straight starts. "And then going to Byron Nelson High School and kind of getting to have that legacy carry over to my high school team. And then his wife Peggy was a part of some of our events and we got to know her as well. So that was pretty special."

Knowing Peggy Nelson meant the occasional treat like seeing a medal from Augusta National that Byron Nelson received for winning one of his two Masters.

"Maybe other people have seen it. I don't know," Springer said, smiling. "She's shown the team. In high school she showed our team that."

After growing up in Texas and playing collegiately at TCU, Springer took a less traveled path to get his tour card. He was on the PGA Tour Canada at this time last year and won two of the final three events of the season to clinch the tour's order of merit. That got him into the final stage of Q-School, where he stayed hot and tied for fourth to earn his card.

"I mean, early on kind of this was a dream that was in my head to play professional golf, to do it at the highest level," Springer said. "Definitely being able to get up close and just kind of be able to interact (with players at the Byron Nelson), even if it's just getting an autograph, you know, it definitely helped to fuel that dream."

--Field Level Media