Sun Sentinel
PGA Tour
Byrd wins Tournament of Champions playoff



Kapalua, HI (Sports Network) - Jonathan Byrd parred the second playoff hole to defeat Robert Garrigus and win the 2011 PGA Tour season-opening Tournament of Champions.

The two were on the first hole at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort for the second playoff hole.

Both players hit poor second shots with Byrd 53 feet short and Garrigus about 10 feet closer.

Byrd nearly holed his long birdie effort, then tapped in for the par to put pressure on Garrigus, who hit a lot of putts past the hole on Sunday. He did it again, this time leaving himself with three feet for par to extend the extra session.

Garrigus' putt lipped out and Byrd walked off with the victory.

"It was a long day," Byrd said in a televised interview. "I felt good out there. I played solid all day. I kept trying to give myself opportunities. I was a little anxious, a little nervous, but it was a good feeling."

This was Byrd's second consecutive playoff victory in as many starts on the PGA Tour. He won Justin Timberlake's event near the end of 2010 when he aced the fourth playoff hole to topple Cameron Percy and Martin Laird.

For Garrigus, it was another playoff disappointment.

Garrigus held a three-shot lead on the 72nd tee last year in Memphis, but triple-bogeyed the hole and lost to Lee Westwood in a playoff. Garrigus got into this winner's-only event with a victory at the 2010 event in Disney World, the last event of the season.

But it was his flat stick that let him down on Sunday, especially on the second playoff hole.

"I hit it too hard. I ripped it," Garrigus admitted on television. "I'm so tired right now. That putt was kind of a microcosm of how I'm feeling right now."

Byrd and Garrigus both carded rounds of six-under 67 on Sunday to tie at 24- under 268.

Reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell narrowly missed a spot in the playoff after an extraordinary Sunday performance. He matched K.J. Choi's 2003 course record with an 11-under 62, but his 12-foot birdie putt on 18 slid by the hole.

"This golf course was green-light all day," McDowell said in a televised interview. "I hit a decent putt. I kind of smoked it through the break. It was just a fun day out there."

He finished alone in third place at 23-under 269.

Third-round co-leader Steve Stricker never got it going on Sunday. He only managed a two-under 71 and tied for fourth place with Carl Pettersson, who had a 68 in the final round. The pair finished at minus-20.

In the end, it was a three-man race.

Down one to Byrd in regulation, Garrigus hit an amazing five-wood from 295 yards to 15 feet with his second shot at the par-five 18th. He missed the eagle putt, but converted the par try to get in at 24-under par.

Byrd, who played in Sunday's last group, doesn't quite have the length of Garrigus, so he laid up with his second. He hit an average pitch from 80 yards to 15 feet. Byrd's birdie putt for the win came up two revolutions short, so it was back to 18.

Both players found the fairway, but neither was able to reach the green in two. Garrigus knocked his 40 yards closer than Byrd, but Byrd hit a decent pitch to 17 feet. Garrigus misread his chip and it settled 25 feet right of the flag.

Garrigus hammered his putt four feet past the hole, but Byrd pulled his birdie try. He converted a tap-in par putt, then Garrigus made his gutsy four-footer to head to No. 1 to continue the playoff.

It was one hole later that Byrd became the first tour winner of 2011.

Ian Poulter (66) and Matt Kuchar (69) tied for sixth at 18-under 274, while Bill Haas' four-under 69 left him alone in eighth at minus-16.

Dustin Johnson (68), Jim Furyk (70) and Jason Day (70) shared ninth at 14- under 278.

NOTES: Byrd pocketed $1.12 million for the victory...It was his fifth PGA Tour win...Byrd notched six birdies on Sunday, while Garrigus had seven birdies and a bogey...Next week is the first full-field event of the 2011 PGA Tour season, the Sony Open in Hawaii, which was won last year by Ryan Palmer.

01/09 22:59:39 ET