Jon Rahm would love nothing better than to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational, giving him a sweep of tournaments hosted by Palmer, Jack Nicklaus (Memorial) and the Genesis Invitational (Tiger Woods).
“But I haven’t won the Byron Nelson,” Rahm was quick to point out, a tournament he has played only once and likely won’t be returning to this year in a busy May schedule.
The AT&T Byron Nelson doesn’t carry the same weight as the other three now, not so much because Nelson died in 2006, but there was never a strong connection with the golf course. Dating to when Nelson became host, it has been held at five venues.
Rahm also mentioned one other difference should he win at Bay Hill — not getting a handshake from The King.
“But the meaning would still be there,” he said.
Palmer and Nicklaus effectively built their tournaments — Palmer bought Bay Hill, Nicklaus built Muirfield Village. Woods became the official host only in 2019, when the PGA Tour gave it elevated status with Bay Hill and the Memorial.
Ernie Els, Fred Couples and Hale Irwin are the only players to win at Riviera, Bay Hill and Muirfield Village. Irwin won in LA in 1976, when it was hosted by Glen Campbell.
As far as winning tournaments hosted by golf’s biggest names, Els and Couples have the trifecta. They not only won Bay Hill, Memorial and the Nelson, all three legends were around to greet them off the 18th green.