Byrd Soars to Top at Kapalua: Kahumoku rounds out Fan-Zone EntertainmentJanuary 9, 2011, 10:12 PM HST · Updated January 9, 10:19 PM 0 Comments
By Wendy Osher
For the first time in a decade, an American won the PGA Tour’s Season Opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Maui. Jonathan Byrd of Sea Island, GA, went head-to-head in a sudden-death playoff with Robert Garrigus, finishing after two extra holes at 24-under-par.
“I’m pretty overwhelmed–that’s probably the best word to describe it,” said Byrd following the sunset finish at the Plantation Course.
Byrd’s Maui win is the fifth of his career, coming on the heels of his 2010 win at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
“I can’t sit here and not think about where I was kind-of toward the end of the season last year, fighting for my card,” said Byrd. “Then I win my last tournament of the year… get back right into contention, and find myself in another playoff and win another tournament,” he said. “I’m just thankful, I’m overwhelmed, I’m greatful–all of the above.”
Byrd takes home a $1.12 million and secures a spot in both the Masters and the US Open. He is also the first person to qualify for a return ticket to the winners-only tournament next year on Maui.
“It just kind-of paid off,” said Byrd. “It’s strange how if you just don’t change anything, keep it simple and just keep playing and wait for your stretches… It’s amazing how things start to go your way and you get a few good breaks, and then you find yourself in contention. That’s kind-of just how it happened,” said Byrd.
The newly named Hyundai Tournament of Champions event went for a fan friendly approach this year, complete with free admission and entertainment.
Rounding out the tournament was Grammy Award-winning musicain, George Kahumoku and friends, who performed at the conclusion of the event.
Hyundai Motor America is in the first year of a three year contract as the title sponsor for the event.