Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Byrd takes playoff with par

Beats Garrigus to win PGA Tour's 2011 debut

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KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Jonathan Byrd won another playoff in fading sunlight, minus the heroics.

Byrd opened the PGA Tour season Sunday by closing with a 6-under 67 and winning a sudden-death playoff in the Tournament of Champions when Robert Garrigus missed a 3-foot par putt on the second extra hole.

Byrd qualified for Kapalua by making a hole-in-one in near darkness to win a three-man playoff in Las Vegas, as dramatic a finish as there was on tour last year. He won this playoff under far more different circumstances.

He nearly holed a 50-foot birdie putt on the opening hole on the Plantation Course, leaving him a tap-in par. Byrd stood off to the side of the green, waiting to go to the next hole, when Garrigus three-putted by missing a three-foot par putt.

"That putt was a microcosm of how I feel right now. This hole kind of got me this week," said Garrigus, who bogeyed No. 1 in regulation and was 4-over par the five times he played it. "Hopefully, I might get back here next year."

It gave Byrd his fifth career victory, and a few perks. Byrd earned an automatic invitation to the Masters, and with his second win in the last two months, is exempt for the U.S. Open.

Graeme McDowell nearly joined them in the playoff. The U.S. Open champion, coming off a dream season, matched the Plantation Course record with an 11-under 62 and finished one shot behind. McDowell had a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole that just missed.

Byrd and Garrigus, who missed a 12-foot eagle putt on the 18th in regulation, finished at 24-under 268.

Both had their chances.

Garrigus, always behind after a bogey on the opening hole, was never out of the hunt. He always had the 688-yard, downhill 18th waiting for him, and he again took advantage. Garrigus ripped a five-wood that caught the grain and the slope perfectly, stopping some 12 feet short of the hole. His eagle putt didn't have enough speed, however, and caught the lower side of the cup.

Byrd, playing in the final group, couldn't reach the green because of the Kona wind into his face. His wedge came up short, and his 18-foot birdie putt for the win didn't have a chance.

Despite the length advantage for Garrigus, Byrd had the best chance to win the first playoff hole on the 18th. His pitch stopped 10 feet short of the hole, but his second chance at birdie for the win slid by the cup.

Garrigus had a 73-yard advantage off the tee on the second extra hole, but his approach was 40 feet short, and his birdie putt to win was hit too hard.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2011 C4

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