IRVING, Texas — Scott Verplank dropped into a squatting position and looked skyward, almost in disbelief — and to say thanks.
Finally, after so many tries, Verplank won the tournament he's always wanted to win. This victory at home was for the late Byron Nelson.
"There's no question that the stars lined up and I got a little help from upstairs. I just haven't been playing that good," Verplank said. "I think Byron had a hand in this week."
Verplank, who as a teenager growing up in Dallas got to know Nelson and play several rounds with the former star, used three straight birdies and an incredible par save from a bunker at No. 17 to win the first Byron Nelson Championship played without its namesake.
When his final 2-foot par putt at No. 18 dropped Sunday for a one-stroke victory over Luke Donald, Verplank no longer had to hold his emotions. After initially dropping his head into his hands, he looked up with a smile on his face.
"I just kept saying, 'Oh my gosh! I can't believe it!' It was a dream," Verplank said. "Then I looked up and said, 'Thank you.' Incredible."
Verplank closed with a 4-under-66 for a 13-under 267, a stroke ahead of Donald (68) for his fifth PGA Tour victory, his first since the 2001 Canadian Open. Phil Mickelson (65), Jerry Kelly (64), Rory Sabbatini (64) and Ian Poulter (66) tied for third at 10 under.
Sadly missing was a personal congratulation from Nelson, who died Sept. 26 at age 94. But Nelson's wife, Peggy, was there clutching one of his famed fedoras in her hand when she hugged Verplank.
"Byron would be very, very happy for Scott. I am, too," Peggy Nelson said. "The friendship they had, it's great to see it culminate this way."
In 1968, Nelson became the first golfer to have a PGA Tour event named after him, and he would always greet players finishing their rounds at the 18th green before taking part in the award ceremony.
NATIONWIDE TOUR: At Glen Allen, Va., Australia's Nick Flanagan won his first Nationwide Tour title Sunday, beating Canada's Chris Baryla with a 2-foot birdie putt on the third hole of a playoff in the Henrico County Open.
LPGA TOUR: At Morelia, Mexico, Silvia Cavalleri became the first Italian winner in LPGA Tour history, closing with a 7-under 66 for a two-stroke victory over Mexican star Lorena Ochoa and Paraguay's Julieta Granada in the Corona Morelia Championship.