“Last year, sitting by him while I'm getting the trophy ... it's a special feeling,” Wetterich said. “Just having him in your presence, it gives you the goose bumps.”
This year's winner won't get that privilege at the 18th green Sunday.
For the first time since Nelson's name became attached to the tournament in 1968, it will be played without him there.
“It just seems to be a slight somber feel about it,” Luke Donald said Wednesday. “I walked past the 18th green and saw there was no position where he's going to sit, and it just seems a little bit different. ... I'm sure it will feel like it's missing something without Byron here.”
Nelson died of natural causes Sept. 26. He was 94.
The golfer known as “Lord Byron” was the first to have a PGA Tour event named after him. His presence helped make the tournament a popular stop for players, whom he greeted as they finished their rounds, and the biggest charity fundraiser on the PGA Tour. The Nelson is expected this year to become the first to surpass $100 million in total donations to charities.
“He lived an amazingly full life,” Tom Lehman said. “It was quite a life to celebrate. To see an empty chair will be sad, but it'll put a smile on your face thinking about Byron Nelson the man.”