It Was an Act of Pure Love by Byrds Fiancee

By Mike RitzOctober 28, 2002, 5:00 pm
PINE MOUNTAIN, Ga. - Once again, proof that love conquers all. No, no, no - not Davis. But the emotion: True, unabashed, devoted love.
On Sunday at the Buick Challenge, there was PGA Tour rookie Jonathan Byrd battling to capture his first tour title, against the likes of Phil Mickelson and David Toms.
As he stepped to the tee at the par-5 7th hole, Byrd was tied for the lead with Toms, who was one group behind, in the final threesome. Jonathan had birdied No. 7 in two of the previous three rounds. He anticipated another. But he blocked his drive and it was headed right of the fairway, towards some of Pine Mountains towering pines.
Ahhh, then love intervened.
As many wives and lovers are wont to do on the Tour, Byrds fiancee - Amanda Talley - was walking with Jonathan, watching his every shot. Thank goodness for Byrd that Amanda is so devoted. Some 270 yards from the tee, his ball took a hard bounce and struck his fiancee right in the back. A new standard for Stand by your Man.
The ball and Amanda both dropped to the ground ' neither the worse for wear. She righted herself and walked into the woods, hoping not to disturb or distract her man.
I asked the crowd if I had hit anybody, Byrd would later explain, and Amanda said, Yes, it hit me near my shoulder.
He asked her if she was OK. She smiled and said yes. He said thank you and then ' with his fortunate lie now clear to the green ' knocked his next shot onto the surface and two-putted for birdie.
She took one for the team, Jonathan said with obvious pride.
His fortuitous birdie gave Byrd a lead he would never relinquish. Up ahead, Mickelson ' the No. 1 player in the world ' was putting on a back-nine run that would temporarily get him within two strokes of Byrd. But Amandas fiancee would put on a charge of his own and Phil would finish third.
I think having all of these first-time winners all of these great young guys, Mickelson said, is great for our tour.
The 24-year-old Byrd snared the trophy with a Mickelson-like run. Starting on the par-5 11th, Byrd went eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle. Five putts in five holes. Seven-under-par in five holes. Ive never had a stretch like that before, the champ would say.
At the end of that blistering eagle-birdie barrage, Byrd was 28-under par and held a five-stroke lead over Toms. But within minutes, the lead was down to two. As Jonathan made his only bogey of the round on the par-3 16th, Toms was on his way to an eagle of his own on No. 15. A three-stroke swing, the lead down to two.

Toms, the 1999 Buick Challenge champion, missed a 12-footer for birdie on 16, but got one on 17 to cut the lead to just one stroke, shortly after Byrd had finished his round with two pars. Did Jonathan feel any pressure from two greats such as Toms and Mickelson charging towards him?
'No, he answered, I felt like I was always charging them my mind-set was to just keep making birdies.
When Toms missed his 15-foot birdie try on the final hole, Byrd was the winner.
Thats the story of my year, said Toms, I just couldnt scrape in enough putts to win. He has now finished second three times on the 2002 Tour.
Toms did see this coming, though. He met Byrds parents in an elevator at the players hotel at the Honda Classic. I told them, to be patient Jonathan was such a good player, it was only a matter of time before he won, Toms recounted.
So Byrd becomes the record 17th first-time winner on the PGA Tour this year. In so doing, he earns $666,000 and brings his season total to nearly $1.4 million.
The wedding of Jonathan Byrd and Amanda Talley is November 30, just days away. Good timing to earn the 666-grand right now?
Oh yeah, the groom-to-be said. Weddings are expensive.
Getty Images

Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

Getty Images

Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

Getty Images

13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

Getty Images

McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.