Byron Nelson & Jug McSpaden take the Miami Four Ball
On this day, In March of 1945, Byron Nelson kicked off his spectacular 1945 streak at the Miami Four Ball tournament. He and partner Harold “Jug” McSpaden claimed victory after winning 8 & 6 over the team of Denny Shute & Sammy Byrd.
The Miami Four Ball was an event held annually starting in 1924 but had not been played the three previous years because of World War II. In past years, Nelson & McSpaden, dubbed the “Gold Dust Twins” never made it past the second round. In 1945, they finally caught some fire… they played 14 under par in the 30 holes needed to conquer Team Shute/Byrd. Denny Shute was a three-time major winner at the time and Byrd was a former New York Yankee turned golf pro.
The Final Stretch
Although Nelson and McSpaden were nearly flawless, Shut and Byrd held their own and were only down 2 holes after the initial eighteen. The eventual winners went up by 3 holes on #20 and then birdie’d the 23, 24, & 25 holes all in a row. The decisive blow happened on the thirtieth hole where McSpaden had virtually a gimmie while Shute-Byrd desperately needed to sink their next shot. Shute tried willfully to chip his in and failed. Byrd tried to putt it and went straight into the hole with so much pace that it popped right back out. After utter disgust, Shute & Byrd walked over to Nelson and McSpaden to shake hands and concede the putt. The win was worth $1,100 each to Nelson and McSpaden, while Shute & Byrd both received $750.
“It’s the first time we’ve teamed up so perfectly,” said Nelson. ” You know we went over par in any of our four thirty-six hole matches, we weren’t even close to going over.”…”Putting made the difference today. They weren’t dropping for Shute and Byrd. Otherwise it might have been closer.”
-Byron Nelson after the 1945 Miami Four Ball