- Al Sharpton, Trayvon Martin’s parents rally against Fla. ‘stand your ground’ law
- Hillary Clinton campaign got illicit funds from D.C. scandal figure
- Obama administration backs off plan to cut prescription-drug program
- Tickets linked to stolen passports purchased by Iranian middleman
- More than 3,500 police planned for Boston Marathon
- Ottawa day care suspends 2-year-old for ‘outside’ cheese sandwich
- Liam Neeson tells NYC mayor to ‘man up’ in horse carriage fight
- Real-life Dr. Doolittle to reveal how to talk to animals
- Climate change could bring back smallpox, researchers say
- Shoe-bomb witness to speak from London at N.Y. trial
Jonathan Byrd builds momentum with his biggest win
Sitting in front of his locker early in the week, he looked around the room at some of the names on the gold plates attached to each locker, which included the tournament they won to get there. For some reason, Byrd began to feel envious.
Graeme McDowell had the U.S. Open. Ernie Els won at Bay Hill and Doral. Tim Clark, winner of The Players Championship. There were three titles for Jim Furyk, including the Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup.
Byrd won a Fall Series event in Las Vegas, albeit with a shot like no other. He became the first player to win a PGA Tour event in a playoff by making a hole-in-one, with a 3-iron in conditions so dark he didn’t see it go in.
He had won four times in his nine years on tour, and at one point, Byrd had the most wins of any active American under 30. But those victories either came late in the year (Buick Challenge), opposite a major (B.C. Open) or the week before a major (John Deere Classic) or in the Fall Series, when the top players were somewhere else.
“You start to get envious, and all of a sudden, you’re not as content with your win,” Byrd said. “I told my wife that one night, and I said, ‘I’ve got to let that go.’ My identity is not what tournaments I win. It’s a lot more than that.”
Byrd prefers to be identified by his faith, which helped to keep his spirits up last year when his game was in such a funk that he missed six consecutive cuts in the late spring and thought he might lose his tour card until his surprise win in Las Vegas. His game has never been inadequate. Byrd has an efficient swing, and his power is more than adequate.
And if that’s not enough, he has a win that guarantees him a locker at Kapalua next year.
He was around the lead all week in the Tournament of Champions, and was strong to the very end. Against a winners-only field, he never trailed in the final round Sunday, closed with a 6-under 67 and won on the second hole of a playoff when Robert Garrigus three-putted from 40 feet, missing a 3-foot putt.
“It’s definitely the biggest tournament I’ve ever won,” Byrd said. “It’s a small field. I’ve won some great tournaments, but I would think this is probably the best field that I’ve won against in my career. So this is definitely a springboard for me.”
He played in the final group with Stricker, a nine-time winner who is No. 6 in the world. He withstood a charge from McDowell, playing as though last year never ended by matching the Plantation course record with an 11-under 62 to finish one shot out of a playoff.
The question is where Byrd goes from here.
As well as he played all week, it’s a wonder Byrd hasn’t won more often and been a regular in the top 50 in the world. His fifth career victory moved him to No. 58.
“I’ve thought that. It’s a valid point,” he said. “I don’t know what it is, the reason why you get held back. I feel like I should be doing better. The best thing I’m doing in my game right now is simplifying things. I complicate things way too much, trying to be perfect, and that’s been my biggest barrier over my career.”
Here’s how simple he wants to keep it for 2011.
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
- CARNES: Kissinger's flawed and offensive analysis of Ukraine
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS after months of talks
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again