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Tournament Ending Shocks Byrd


Jonathan Byrd ended the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open with a loud bang when he aced the fourth sudden-death playoff hole.

After Byrd, defending champion Martin Laird of Scotland and Australia's Cameron Percy finished tied in regulation at 21-under 263, the three traded pars over the first three overtime holes, the par-4 18th, the par-3 17th and the 18th.

Back on the 17th tee for the fourth playoff hole, Byrd, hitting first, teed off as advancing darkness was making this the final chance for victory or force the players to return to TPC Summerlin and continue the playoff Monday morning. Byrd's tee shot on the 205-yard par-3 hit the green and rolled into the cup. Only the TV cameras and gallery near the green witnessed the amazing moment.

Needless to say, Laird and Percy didn't get a hole-in-one, so Byrd won, earning $756,000.

"I'm in shock," Byrd told a Golf Channel reporter right afterward. "I couldn't see it . . . I hit it perfect. It was just luck."

After accepting his check and the champion's hardware, Byrd calmed down enough to participate in the following session with reporters.

MODERATOR: We welcome the 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open champion. Jonathan, obviously the question in everybody's mind is that hole-out in the playoff. Just take us through that.

JONATHAN BYRD: Well, it's kind of hard to process because I'm still kind of in shock. I've got to go back to the putt before on 18. I hit a poor shot into the green and get kind of fortunate that it stays up in the rough and hit a chip and gave myself a chance to stay in the golf tournament and just made a great putt from about 12 feet, I guess, stayed in the tournament. We're sitting there on 18 green trying to decide whether we're going to keep playing or not, and I wanted to -- I felt like we could get one more hole in on 17, and the other guys did, too. We decided just one more hole, and if we get to the green and it's too dark, we'll stop.

So I'm up first, and I've played that hole well in regulation and in the playoff, hit good shots, and just went through my same process, and for me it was put a 6-iron kind of back in my stance and try to play more of kind of a sweeping draw into that left pin and curve it over to it. It started perfect, it turned perfect, and it was coming right down the flag. I thought I hit it too good. I thought I hit it too far, and I couldn't see anything. But to hear the reaction as it went in, I was just in shock. I was trying to be considerate of my playing partners because two more guys had a chance to keep playing, and I didn't want to overreact. I'm numb pretty much.

Q. When were you sure it went in? I'm sure it wasn't right away.

JONATHAN BYRD: Well, it was almost like I thought I heard somebody say it went in, and then I wasn't sure, and then my caddie said, "I think it went in." Then he said, "It went in, it went in." I don't know, it's like any hole-in-one if you don't see it. You're not really sure until you can go down there and look in the bottom of the hole and you can see it. I didn't have that luxury. But like I said, when everybody was just kind of yelling and screaming, then I knew.

Q. There's a difference, isn't there, between hearing a shot that's close and a shot that goes in, right? You don't need to see it; you can hear it?

JONATHAN BYRD: Yeah, they kind of roar and then they just kind of go nuts and then people just start yelling, I think it went in, I think it went in, it did go in, it did go in. It just kind of keeps going.

Q. I'll take you back to 18, too. I'm sure you haven't seen the shot yet, but were you just as surprised when you got up to the ball to see it didn't go in the water?

JONATHAN BYRD: I really thought when I hit the shot I thought it was going to stay up on the green. It landed on the green, and I thought the wind was going to hold it up. I obviously wasn't trying to hit it there. And then when I saw it go down the hill and I heard people going, aww, like that, I thought it was in the water, and I thought I was going to be done. And then right at the last second I kind of heard somebody cheer. And they don't cheer when it goes in the water unless they've really had too much to drink. So I figured, hey, it must be up. I might be standing in the water. You don't know what you're going to make of it. Fortunately it was good enough for me to get it on the green and have a chance to save par.

Q. Why was it so much tougher today for everybody to kind of get on a run? You know, everybody, yourself included, has been able to really make a nice run each day. What was going on out there today that made it so much tougher? Was it because it was Sunday? Was it the wind? Was it the greens were harder, or was it a whole lot of stuff?

JONATHAN BYRD: Well, I don't think it was the golf course. I think it was Sunday. You had a lot of guys -- you had one before me who hasn't had a great year, so you've got a lot of things going on there. You've got guys in the mix who are still trying to keep their card, and just a lot of things going on mentally. And then I think the hole locations were a little more difficult. I think they tucked them and had some good hole locations up against the edges to where if you got a little greedy you could make some mistakes. And I kept trying to fight that balance all day of not getting too greedy and force things but stay aggressive and try to hit some shots close. I wasn't able to do that until the end. I started to kind of free things up coming in. I didn't really have anything to lose at that point.

Q. What did your playing partners say to you when they learned the ball went in the hole?

JONATHAN BYRD: I mean, they were pretty excited, I think. I mean, it's pretty hard to follow that. They came over and were very gracious and congratulated me and told me, "great shot." Both of them did and the caddies. And everybody was smiling. I think when something like that happens that's out of their control, there's not much they can do about it. They've got to figure out a way to follow it up.

Q. What was the yardage?

JONATHAN BYRD: I don't know what the actual yardage was. We were playing it downhill, but my caddie Adam told me it was 194 yards adjusted. That's with the downhill and the percentage. We had a little cross help wind, and for me it was just about a 185-yard shot.

Q. Have you hit a hole-in-one at any level before?

JONATHAN BYRD: I've had one hole-in-one at a tournament, and that was at the Deutsche Bank on the 11th hole in the tournament. That was the only time I've ever had one in a tournament. I've had one in qualifier. I've had probably three other ones. And actually I've had a hole-in-one on a par-4, and it was actually the 15th hole in a practice round here one year. I one-hopped it in the hole playing with Phil Mickelson and Billy Mayfair in a practice round. That was probably five years ago.

Q. Have you ever heard of anything like somebody winning a golf tournament on the last shot from either the fairway or -- not counting a chip-in, but with a shot like that?

JONATHAN BYRD: I mean, I saw Craig Parry do it -- it was Craig Parry, right, at Doral on 18, holed out against Scott Verplank. I remember watching that. I'd like to say that was probably a little more difficult shot. But I had water, too. But it was just as hard a shot. Robert Gamez made it on 18 at Bay Hill, but I don't remember anybody that hit a hole-in-one in a playoff. The only thing in my mind is I kept thinking, you know what, I want to keep playing, I obviously want to win the golf tournament, but I haven't seen my wife and my kids in two weeks and I'm going to miss the flight tonight and we're going to be playing, so that doesn't sound too good. It all worked out as good as it could have.

Q. Can you talk about what you had to do to get into the playoff? I think you birdied three of the last four holes.

JONATHAN BYRD: Yeah, I was three back standing on 15 tee, and fortunately this tournament, this golf course lends some eagle opportunities coming in, and if you get hot coming in, you can make up some ground, especially if somebody else makes a mistake. Unfortunately my buddy Webb Simpson got it to 22-under and hit it in the water on 17 and made a double. Obviously if he wouldn't have done that I would have had to birdie the last hole to get into the playoff. So I'm sad for him because he played so well this week. But I hit good shots coming down the stretch. My goal was to birdie the last four. I birdied the last three, and then I kind of wimped out in the last hole in regulation and just kind of hit it in the fat of the green. Walking you through the playoff, I hit good shots in the playoff other than two poor tee shots on 18 and made a great save on 18 the second time and hit a great putt on 17 the first time. I don't know how that putt didn't go in.

MODERATOR: Congratulations. Thanks very much.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.