KAPALUA, Maui >> Jonathan Byrd held off hard-charging Robert Garrigus to win the $5.6 million Hyundai Tournament of Champions today with a par on the second playoff hole.
Both golfers shot 67 and finished at 24-under 268 in this winners-only event that kicked off the 2011 PGA Tour. After both parred the par-5 18th in the playoff, they went to the opening hole, where Garrigus struggled to 3 over the last two days and Byrd was 1 under.
The hole clipped him again as Byrd just missed a 53-footer for birdie as it grazed the hole going by, settling for par. Next up Garrigus, who rammed his 51-footer 4 feet past and lipped it out coming back, giving Byrd his fifth tour victory.
“I’m pretty overwhelmed, probably, is the best word to describe it,” Byrd said. “I can’t sit here and not think about where I was toward the end of the season last year fighting for my card. Then I win my last tournament of the year (in a playoff) and then get to come to Maui to play in this event and win another tournament (in a playoff).”
U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell almost joined Byrd and Garrigus in the playoff after equaling the course record of 62 first set in 2003 by K.J. Choi. He missed a 9-footer at the last to finish at 23-under 269. Steve Stricker (71) and Carl Pettersson (68) finished tied for fourth at 20-under 272.
Byrd could have avoided the playoff had he birdied the closing hole in regulation, but was forced to settle for par. Garrigus could have avoided it as well had he sunk a 13-foot putt for eagle that just slid by. The Disney champion was tired after the loss, but didn’t let the disappointment of losing in a playoff overwhelm him.
“I just hit that last putt too hard,” Garrigus said. “I was just trying to take all the break out of it; played straight and I pushed it a centimeter and it hit that lip and didn’t go in. It was a great week. I shot 6 under today and was in a playoff. I just missed that short one on 10 and then missed the eagle putt on 18 there. That’s how it goes. That’s golf.
Of the 34 who teed it up here, 23 will be at the Sony Open in Hawaii this week. Dustin Johnson dropped out today after committing on Friday.