Jonathan Byrd had a silver trophy at his side and a lei draped around his neck, a winner Sunday in the Tournament of Champions, even if the playoff didn't end the way many imagined.
“Pretty overwhelmed,” he said.
The emotions went beyond his victory in the PGA Tour’s season opener when Robert Garrigus, the longest hitter on tour, missed a 3-foot par putt on the second extra hole at Kapalua.
Just over three months ago, Byrd thought he might lose his tour card for the first time in his career. He was outside the top 125 on the money list, and not much was going his way.
Then came a hole-in-one in near darkness to win Las Vegas in a playoff, getting him to Maui for the Tournament of Champions. He made it two straight wins by closing with a 6-under 67, and winning despite the length advantage for Garrigus in the playoff.
“I can’t sit here and not think about where I was toward the end of the season last year, fighting for my card,” he said. “I’m just thankful, I’m overwhelmed, I’m grateful, all of the above.”
Garrigus was thankful, too, despite a tough way to lose. He had a 12-foot eagle putt on the last hole in regulation that would have been enough to win.
He failed to take advantage of his length on the par-5 18th in the playoff, hitting a poor chip. And with a 9-iron to the green on No. 1 in the playoff – Byrd hit 3-iron – he couldn’t get it closer than 40 feet.
Garrigus ran it 3 feet past the hole, and tried to jam it in from there and caught the right lip.
Both men played 72 holes in 24-under par 268.
Byrd missed an 18-foot birdie putt in regulation to win. He had a 10-foot birdie on the 18th in the playoff to win. No putt came closer than his 50-foot effort on No. 1 in the playoff. He tapped in for par.
British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen won the Africa Open when he holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with Chris Wood and Manuel Quiros in East London, South Africa.
Pablo Martin made a tap-in birdie on the final hole to beat Jeev Milkha Singh, 1-up, and give Europe the deciding point in a 9-7 victory over Asia in the Royal Trophy matches at Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, Thailand.