Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Byrne's next Big Break tee time at Zurich Classic

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CANADIAN David Byrne is getting quite adept at helping to shape his own opportunities in the world of professional golf.

In New Orleans preparing for the PGA's Zurich Classic, Byrne hung around the practice range Monday morning and let it be known he'd love to play in that day's Pro-Am. Sure enough, someone withdrew at the last minute and the 24-year-old headed out on TPC Louisiana.

"Someone backed out at 10:58 for an 11 a.m. tee off," said Byrne, of Essex, Ont.

"I was hitting balls so I hustled up and got my stuff. It gave me a chance to work on my game plan and see how I want to attack it."

Without playing a straight-up round, Byrne figures he was "around par" on the par-72, 7,341-yard layout.

"I was dinking around a bit," he said. "It was actually tough conditions today. It was pretty windy."

Byrne secured his place into the Zurich Classic by winning the Golf Channel's Big Break reality show last year. He's been preparing for this week ever since.

The field for the 2012 Classic features 10 of the top 24 in golf's world rankings and a dozen players who share 16 majors between them.

"It's pretty cool being out here," Byrne said of having the same clubhouse privileges as Masters champ Bubba Watson, who is No. 1 on the PGA money list and No. 4 in the world rankings.

Also in town are No. 2-ranked Luke Donald, No. 7 Steve Stricker and No. 10 Justin Rose.

Other Canadians in the field include Richard H. Lee, Graham DeLaet, David Hearn and Stephen Ames.

As he headed for dinner and a quiet evening Monday, Byrne was already plotting strategy for Tuesday's practice round.

"I'm hoping to play nine holes with Graeme McDowell," said the former University of Detroit star.

Asked how he knows the 2010 U.S. Open champ from Northern Ireland, Byrne said, "I don't, but I follow him on Twitter and I've been telling him since last year that I was going to be here and we should play together. So I'll wait and see if he gets back to me."

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 24, 2012 C11

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