Jonathan Byrd builds momentum with his biggest win

By Doug FergusonJanuary 10, 2011, 11:09 pm

Hyundai Tournament of Champions

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Only the PGA Tour winners from the previous year are invited to Kapalua to begin the season at the Tournament of Champions. That wasn’t enough for Jonathan Byrd.

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.

Byrd wrote down three goals for the year – improve his putting inside 5 feet, become more efficient with his wedge play and drive better. Those three areas were key for him at Kapalua.

Then, there are little things that seemed to have worked.

After missing the cut in the Canadian Open, Byrd went out to play with his caddie and decided not to wear a glove. It gave him a slightly better feel with the club in his hand, and he even put a waggle into his pre-shot routine.

“I really feel like that’s one thing that has helped me have a little more feel in my game,” he said.

And then there’s his attitude.

Byrd lasted only one playoff event last year, and he started the Fall Series outside the top 125 on the money list. He was on the cusp of losing his card until a solid week in Mississippi, then his victory in Vegas.

“You get to a point where you might lose your card, which is where I was last year, and it forces you to find a way to play well,” he said.

Beyond the quality of the field he beat, Byrd’s latest victory was important for other reasons.

He earned an automatic invitation to the Masters, which he has played only three times. Because it was his second PGA Tour win since last summer, he is exempt for the U.S. Open.

Byrd will get into the Bridgestone Invitational, a WGC event he has not played since 2003, and at No. 58 in the world, he at least gave himself a chance to play in the Match Play Championship.

Until this year, he had never won before July.

Now what?

“I don’t know. I’ve got to call Mo Pickens, figure out what I should be thinking now,” Byrd said with a laugh, referring to his mental coach at Sea Island in Georgia. “I guess the best thing is just not change anything. I’m just going to keep playing.”

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia


And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.