Golf's true gentleman

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

It's an argument that can't be won or lost but is hashed over daily in clubhouses around the world:

Who are the 10 best golfers of all time?

Obviously, there's no definitive answer yet a handful of fairway legends belong on any knowledgeable golfer's list.

Sun sports writer Dan Toth asked Calgary's Stephen Ames, who has played professionally around the world, to offer up his all-time greats.

The native of Trinidad and Tobago, who gained his Canadian citizenship a year ago, has been fortunate enough to tee it up with a couple of the golf gods who earned a place on his honour roll.

Who Ames selected -- and why -- will be revealed in this special 10-part series.

In no particular order, here are the golfers Ames most admires:

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#1 JACK NICKLAUS

#2 BOBBY JONES

#3 BEN HOGAN

#4 BYRON NELSON

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NO. 4

BYRON NELSON

Born -- Feb. 4, 1912, Waxahachie, Tex.

Nickname -- Lord Byron.

Majors -- Masters (1937, 42); PGA (1940, 45); U.S. Open (1939).

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Byron Nelson won 18 tournaments in 1945, including a remarkable 11 in a row.

A year later, he walked away from golf for good.

"He won so many times and then just up and quit," says Calgary's Stephen Ames, who has often played in the PGA Tour event at Dallas that bears Nelson's name.

"He earned enough money to buy a ranch and then retired. That was always his dream."

Nelson won 52 tour events in his 13-year career while his 11 straight wins 60 years ago will never be duplicated.

"Vijay almost did it last year but straight wins -- no, never again. But in a year, maybe," Ames says.

"Straight's impossible."

Ames says the remarkable financial gains seen on Tour today have made it possible for players to walk away rich but the game keeps drawing him back.

"I could do it now but I can't relate to that," Ames says.

"I still have a passion for it.

I want to play, even to the Senior Tour.

I think I will play that long. Both for the competitiveness and fun. I enjoy that and I'd like my kids to be out there with me one day.

"That's because for most people it's a job but this is not a job for me. It's a love and there's an important difference. If I could do a job

I loved, I'd stay until I'm 85, that's the difference.

"It's not the competition (against the field), it's the competition against yourself.

"As you get older, instead of hitting 7-irons at pins, you're now hitting 4-irons. That makes it even tougher. More fun."

Nelson established himself as a gentleman whose opponents said they never heard him swear or lose his temper. He was also always considerate of fans.

"Nelson is a true gentlemen," Ames says.

"There are parts of him tour players like to emulate."

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WHO'S NO. 5 ON STEPHEN'S LIST?

FIND OUT TOMORROW IN THE SUN BUT HERE'S A HINT:

HE RAISED THE BAR ON GOLF FASHION


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