SAN MARTIN, Calif. – After the third round of the Frys.com Open, Briny Baird said achieving his first win in 348 career PGA Tour starts would make him happy for a fleeting moment. The way he lost it may stay with him for a long time.
Baird lost in a six-hole sudden death playoff to Bryce Molder, who won his maiden PGA Tour event in his 142nd start.
'There's a reason why I have not won out here, and it's not obvious, but you know, you gotta be mentally tough, and you can't lose it and you gotta be a good putter,' he said.
Having finished runner-up on four previous occasions in his decade-plus career, Baird said the feeling he had entering the day was different.
'I finished second before four times, and only one of those four times did I really honestly think I had a chance to win, and that was the John Deere (where David Gossett won in 2003). The other times they weren't back-door seconds, but I didn't feel like I was out there to win the tournament. I was ready for the tournament to kind of fall back to me.
'Today I felt like I was out there to win the tournament.'
When Baird realized he was going to overtime, he felt the win was in the bag.
'There was zero doubt that I would grab the check, and that's not a knock on Bryce. Bryce deserved to win the golf tournament, not me, but honestly, going into the playoff, if it were up to me, I might have grabbed my phone and texted [my instructors],' he said.
Baird could not identify the source of that confidence heading to the playoff holes, which may have been his downfall.
'If I knew, I probably would have won,' he said.
For his fifth career second-place finish, Baird earned $540,000. The prize is more than enough to assure Baird of his 2012 PGA Tour status and adds to his career earnings –most ever for a player without a win.
'Just trying to pad that stat that we talked about,' Baird joked. 'I get my $4,500 back (the fee for PGA Tour Q-School), too.'
The length of the playoff – six holes – proved to make the loss more excruciating in retrospect, though it went by like a blur.
He said, 'It probably seemed a lot longer to you guys than it did to us. The moment hadn't lost me. I knew what I was playing for.'
Baird, however, looked to one specific putt for birdie on the second playoff hole as the one that cost him everything.
'I know how long I've played, and I lost my concentration one time today and it was one of the putts that I had to win the golf tournament. And I looked ahead, and that was a mistake, and I don't know if I missed the putt because of that or what, but I did some really good things today. I was happy with that, and as happy as I was with that, like I said, I'm not happy with the outcome, but what are you going to do?'