Jonathan Byrd wins Tournament of Champions

Jonathan Byrd came through a playoff against Robert Garrigus to win the PGA Tour’s season opening event, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii.

Jonathan Byrd

Jonathan Byrd came through a playoff against Robert Garrigus to win the PGA Tour's season opening event, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii.

After both Byrd and Garrigus tied on final totals of 268 (24-under-par,) extra holes were required to decide the destination of the trophy contested only by winners from the 2010 PGA Tour season.

The pair headed back to the par-5 18th tee. Garrigus looked to have a distinct advantage given his ability to hit the long ball - he was the longest driver on Tour last year. But the 33-year-old failed to capitalise and could only make a par after a poor pitch. Byrd matched that score so they headed to the par-4 1st.

Again Garrigus had the upper hand because of his length and was firing in a 9-iron for his second. Byrd had a 3-iron in his hand. Despite that, both players ended roughly equidistant from the cup, some 40 feet away. Byrd two-putted comfortably but Garrigus was left with a three-foot effort to extend the playoff. He pushed it slightly, it caught the right lip and spun out. The victory went to Byrd.

Byrd has enjoyed an amazing turnaround in the last few months. Prior to the Shriners tournament in Las Vegas last October, Byrd looked likely to lose his card for this season. But, from nowhere, he won that tournament with a hole-in-one in a playoff against Martin Laird and Cameron Percy.

"I can't sit here and not think about where I was toward the end of the season last year, fighting for my card," he said. "I'm just thankful, I'm overwhelmed, I'm grateful, all of the above."

Golf Monthly columnist Graeme McDowell made a great run at the title with a sparkling, course record-equalling, final round of 62 that included 11 birdies and no bogeys. He had a putt on the final green that would have tied Byrd and Garrigus at the top, but it narrowly missed.

"It was just a fun day out there," McDowell said. "This golf course is just 'green light' all day. You can see from the scoring, there's a lot of birdies, and it's a lot of fun."

Hyundai Tournament of Champions Plantation Course at Kapalua, Hawaii Jan 6-9, purse $5,600,000, par 73 1   Jonathan Byrd (USA)   66   68   67   67   268   $1,120,000 2   Robert Garrigus (USA)   69   63   69   67   268   $635,000 3   Graeme McDowell (NIR) 71   68   68   62   269   $412,000 T4   Carl Pettersson (Swe)   66   67   71   68   272   $286,500 T4   Steve Stricker (USA)   69   67   65   71   272   $286,500 T6   Matt Kuchar (USA)   69   70   66   69   274   $201,500 T6   Ian Poulter (Eng)      70   68   70   66   274   $201,500 8   Bill Haas (USA)      68   70   69   69   276   $182,000 T9   Jason Day (Aus)      73   66   69   70   278   $162,000 T9   Jim Furyk (USA)      68   68   72   70   278   $162,000 T9   Dustin Johnson (USA)   71   66   73   68   278   $162,000

Note: Player in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?