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PGA TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 26, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Jonathan Byrd, who, as you all know, won Sunday's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children's Open with an historic hole in one, with a 6-iron on the 4th playoff hole. Jonathan, now that you've had a couple of days to think about what took place in near darkness on Sunday night. Can you give us your thoughts on not only the win, but manner of victory?
JONATHAN BYRD: Obviously, I was kind of in a daze and confused when it happened, because I didn't see it go in and then didn't know really how to react to it. I'm still kind of dazed and confused now taking a red eye home and reuniting with my family and just kind of taking it all in.
It's been a difficult year, a good year because I haven't played as well, and I've learned a lot. But then to kind of play well in the fall and win this week, it's just a lot of emotions going on. I just feel very blessed at the moment.
THE MODERATOR: Take us a little bit through the scenario there after the third playoff hole with the meeting there on the putting green with the rules official and also with Martin and Cameron. Just take us a little bit through what that scene was like.
JONATHAN BYRD: Well, we all just kind of -- obviously, I had just made a huge putt to stay in the game. Cameron made a similar putt on 17 after hitting a good bunker shot and a good putt. I had to make that putt to save par to stay in the match.
After that, we just kind of looked at each other and were like, hey, what do you want to do? And the officials told us we might have enough time to play the par-3 and play one more hole, what do you guys want to do?
And we all kind of hesitated. I initially was wanting to play for the fans and felt like we could get one more hole in. I think the most hesitation came from Martin Laird, but then he decided, hey, let's keep playing. Let's at least hit our shots and we'll get on the green and make a decision whether we can see enough.
We went to the hole, and I was glad we were going to play one more hole, because at that moment I had a red eye flight trying to get home that night. I was still excited to be going home to see my family, and the rest is history at that point. It took three more swings and the tournament was over.
THE MODERATOR: As we know, you entered the PGA TOUR Fall Series ranked, I think, it was number 130 on the official money list. So you thought the next season was somewhat in jeopardy. Comment on what it means to secure your spot on TOUR through the 2012 season and the doors that this win opens for you?
JONATHAN BYRD: Well, my job was definitely in jeopardy being 130 on the money list. I'm a past winner, so I would have some status, but there is nothing like full status compared to limited status.
It was really a blessing in disguise. You hear guys say that. I had four weeks off before the fall because I was not in the FedExCup. So I had four weeks with my family. Four weeks unplanned that you didn't have any trips planned or anything. We were just at home, and it was a great thing for my family just to get into a routine at home.
I was able to get some really quality practice in and kind of get refocused to come into the Fall Series, and I felt really prepared going into the fall that I was going to go play and play well, because I felt like my game was good.
And the biggest week of probably the whole year was Jackson to go 130 on the money list, and then go into Jackson and have a Top 5. I birdied the last hole Sunday to finish tied for fifth and make a good check. That kind of gave me some breathing room going into the rest of the fall.
THE MODERATOR: With obviously the win that helps you out in terms of you'll be heading to the Children's Miracle Network Classic where you finished T-11 last year, and then I'm guessing you'll be heading to Kapalua again in January, correct?
JONATHAN BYRD: Absolutely. That's not a tournament you skip.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Questions for Jonathan.
Q. Some housekeeping here. Mack wants to know who is buying lunch?
JONATHAN BYRD: Mack always buys lunch.
Q. I'm curious. Why play Disney? Did you not accomplish what you wanted to or do you just want to keep going?
JONATHAN BYRD: I'm not playing Disney to try to get in the top 30 or anything. I'm ready for the season to be over. I asked my wife after I won. I said, So what do you think? Do you want to just shut it down? And she said, Are you kidding me? We've already told the kids we're going to Disney World, are you going to be the one that tells them we're not going now?
So that's pretty much why we're going to Disney. We're going for the kids.
Q. On a brighter perspective, what do you see as the value of the Fall Series beyond the situation you were in starting it? I don't know if you saw Charles Howell kind of mentioned at Sea Island, somehow these wins have an asterisk attached to them, whether it's strength of field, time of the year, et cetera. I wonder if you could speak to those issues?
JONATHAN BYRD: Well, my feeling of the fall is that I think there's about three different tours on the PGA TOUR, and it's all based on schedule. You've got your top 50 world ranked guys that are playing a certain schedule, and then you have some other guys who are playing somewhat of a full schedule, and then you have the rookies that are just starting out, and they're playing kind of a limited schedule. They're playing limited purse sizes, and it's a little bit tougher road to keeping your card.
I think the fall serves a great purpose. We went into the fall. I was in that position. I hadn't played that well this year. I was 130th on the money list. And the story going into the fall is what guys are going to kind of finish the job and play well and secure their job for the next year? Then you have guys who are trying to move up in the money list for position for next year.
So you ask me what purpose do they serve? For me, they serve me to salvage a pretty good year now. And other guys, like Cameron Percy was trying to win that tournament and trying to keep his card, and those are great stories.
Q. Does it feel like any other tournament you've won, whether it was a John Deere, B.C., or even a Memorial when you were contending? Does anything feel the same?
JONATHAN BYRD: I wouldn't say that. I mean, I think every tournament on the PGA TOUR has a different feel to it based on how many fans are out there, based on whether it's your hometown tournament or whether it's a major. There are just so many different emotions and different fields that each tournament provides.
Obviously, a fall finish event is not going to draw the same crowds as a Memorial. You really can't play that comparison game. So they all have different fields. But that tournament, it's just a different feel.
But for me as a player, it doesn't feel any different. I have the same emotions coming down the stretch just trying to win a golf tournament than I would at the Memorial. I'm fighting the same kind of emotions and I'm just competing.
But with the limited, you know, not as many people out there in this event as compared to some other events, it has a different vibe and different feel to it.
Q. The way that you won this one, beyond the fact that you won it with a hole if one, but just putting yourself in that position and knowing that in a sense with this part of the year goes, your back was a little bit against the wall. Does this tournament maybe take a little higher notch on your estimation because of your situation going in and the fact that you knew you had to do this or you were going to, as you said, have to rely on some other ways to be exempt next year?
JONATHAN BYRD: Well, I think every win is special. I think for different reasons. I really compare it to Zach Johnson and I, with our wives we're having a conversation probably two months ago. And the year after Zach won the Masters he didn't have a great year. He just was adjusting to winning a major championship and having some struggles.
And he got into the fall and he played this tournament and he played Valero Texas, and some other ones. And he went out there and he won Valero, and he turned a pretty poor year into a really good year.
His wife just said it was kind of a gut check for him and for them as a couple and just dealing with golf. So we talked about that, and they felt like that was kind of my year this year. It was kind of a gut check, and it certainly was.
We have not been in that position really much on TOUR where I'm going into the end of the year and I'm fighting to keep my card. I'm very fortunate of that. But I didn't like being there. It was hard just mentally.
But it's also a great reward now to realize that I had to play well. I went out there and I kind of worked hard all year, and I worked hard at the end, and I stuck to my plan and my process and I was able to play well when I needed to.
Q. At this point, you're still a relatively young player. You've been out there, has it been ten years now? Eight years, nine years, ten years?
JONATHAN BYRD: Nine years on the PGA TOUR, ten as a pro.
Q. At this point do you begin sort of assessing where you are in your career and where you want to still go?
JONATHAN BYRD: Not really. Really the older I've gotten, I really don't care. I've kind of loosened my grip on those career goals and things. I mean, they're still there, but I've got a family now and I've got two kids. I have a great desire to play as good as I can, but I just don't have a real tight grip on now I'm going to go work harder to try to do this and accomplish this now and this and that.
Maybe that sounds like not a good thing for an athlete to say, but I have the same desires to play as good as I can week to week and to win and compete. Obviously, I want to play in majors and compete while I'm there. But I don't know. However it turns out, it turns out. I'm just trying to enjoy this right now and deal with next year when it comes.
Q. You may have just sort of touched on this previously, but I was talking to Adam, your caddy yesterday, and he was just saying that he had been with you for a couple of years. He said he thinks you just needed one little something to sort of push you over the edge to kind of push you up and sort of inspire you to be a top 20 player on the TOUR and in the world. You just said maybe you don't have the desire to work at it quite that hard. But is this the kind of thing that could maybe push you? I don't know if it's momentum or confidence or whatever, to take you to maybe another place in your career.
JONATHAN BYRD: I don't want to give you the impression that I don't have the desire or that I don't need to work harder. I don't have a problem with working hard. I mean, I work my tail off. I have a problem with overworking and that is a lesson I continue to have to learn.
It's just a whole issue of letting go. I think from what Adam was trying to say is it's more of a confidence thing. I think it's believing in myself and believing that I'm good enough right now to be a top echelon player. Whether that's a top 10, top 20, top 50, whatever that is, that it's just kind of self-belief or self-doubt that I've had in the past that's kind of been able to get me over the hump.
My caddy, everybody's always telling me, you've got it. Just go play. Just go have fun. For whatever reason, that's difficult for me just to go trust what I have and just go play.
I think we were able to do some things this fall and this week at the Justin Timberlake tournament in Vegas that I was able to really do some things that I haven't been able to do most of the year. That was to really trust what I'm doing, and stay aggressive and play that way for four days.
Q. Has that been the biggest thing this year as you came struggling through this year, just trusting it and letting it go?
JONATHAN BYRD: Yeah, I'll just be honest. I haven't had a lot of confidence this year. I haven't been able to let it go. When I've gotten in the hunt, I've performed very poorly.
I think it's an issue of control. Just trying to kind of control the outcome or maybe some fear of failure. I don't know what it is to put a nail on the head, but it's just kind of struggling to perform well under the gun. I just haven't done a great job of that this year.
Now this past weekend this fall I've had some success at that, and it's been rewarding.
Q. Wondering, you've had how many holes in one? About three or four before this?
JONATHAN BYRD: I think I've had like six.
Q. Six, okay. What is your mentality on par-3 greens? Are there some pins and some wind conditions and if you've got a perfect number, do you think to yourself I could put this in the hole, or does that not really enter your mind on all of these?
JONATHAN BYRD: I don't think that enters your mind, really. I think it's funny that we face this off-season coming into this year, and one of the goals I had coming into the year as a strategy standpoint was to play the par-3s more conservatively.
I had made a lot of bogies on par-3s. My stroke average wasn't that great. We made a conscientious effort to hit the ball in the middle of the green more often on par-3s, because pars are good scores.
That's obviously not my mentality in a playoff situation when I'm trying to win a golf tournament. I'm a guy who draws the ball. So when I get a left-hand, I'm usually more aggressive on those types of pins than say a right pin or something like that, or if I'm hitting a 3-iron or hybrid, I'm not as aggressive.
Q. Is the TOUR as a hole making par-3s harder by length for the most part?
JONATHAN BYRD: I think so. A lot of times we're putting the pins three yards from the edge. I'm not getting into that conversation of whether I think that's right or not. I just think par-3s are difficult.
If you look at stroke averages of guys on TOUR and how guys play par-3s, if you play par-3s, we figured out 1 over for the week of a tournament, you're whipping the field. So par is a good score. Because you're hitting a lot of long irons and hybrids and they are typically longer and they have tough pins.
Q. Is it most tournaments are you facing two or three 200-yard par-3s for the most part?
JONATHAN BYRD: Every week's different. I think for the most part we have two or three a week. I mean, two or three out of four during a tournament round that are that long, yes.
I seem to wear out my 5-iron, and my 4-iron, and my 3-iron on my par-3s. So that's anywhere from 195 to 225.
Q. And prior to this, which one of the holes in one you've had on TOUR was probably the most memorable one before this?
JONATHAN BYRD: I've only had one other one in competition, the Deutsche Bank on number 11. But the most memorable hole in one I have -- you all know my dad passed away about a year and a half ago. He called me. He had never had a hole in one. This was like four or five years ago. He called me and told me he had his first hole in one.
Obviously, he was thrilled. He was excited, but he was calling me to kind of needle me like what have you done lately? I just made a hole in one. And that special relationship that dad's and son's have.
So the next week I came out to Vegas to play in the tournament, and I was on the 15th hole. I was playing a practice round. I was playing with Mickelson and Billy Mayfair, and I one hopped the driver in the hole on the par-4.
When I got done with my round, I couldn't wait to call my dad and needle him and say guess what I did on a par-4. I made a hole in one today, but the kicker is mine was on a par-4.
That was funny. I mean, my dad just kind of -- I just topped him, you know. He finally makes a hole in one, and I topped him with a hole in one on a par-4 the next day.
Obviously, I thought about that on Sunday after I made that hole in one. And was just thinking how could my dad have topped that? That was pretty special.
Q. What was your dad's first name?
JONATHAN BYRD: Jim Byrd.
Q. Where did he make that hole in one?
JONATHAN BYRD: I think he made it at Wood Creek Country Club in Elgin, South Carolina or Columbia, South Carolina.
Q. You've had two holes in one in Las Vegas?
JONATHAN BYRD: Yes, sir.
Q. Two things I wanted to get at: The putt before that, how tricky was that? Can you kind of describe that for us? Was this -- I've heard other guys have holes in one that they couldn't see. Was this the first time experience for you on that where you couldn't actually see it go in?
JONATHAN BYRD: To go back to the putt, I obviously got a good break. The shot I hit on the third playoff hole on 18 didn't go in the water. It landed on the green and then bounced down and was going towards the water and stopped. It was on the line in the hazard.
I had enough room to have a stance, and I couldn't really go right at the hole on my chip, so I kind of hit it out to the right. I was hoping they wouldn't make birdie. Give myself a look at par to try to stay in the game. Didn't want to do anything silly on the chip, so I hit it out there. I think, it was a little over 8 feet.
It wasn't a really tough putt to read, you know. It was kind of down the hill, going a little left. I knew I had to make it, and I just went through a great process, great routine, and I just hit a great putt. I just put it right in the hole, perfect speed.
That was a big momentum boost. That was a big confidence thing for me. I had to make it, and I made that putt. Obviously, gave me another opportunity to have a chance to win to go into the next hole.
The other question about hole in one. My first hole in one was not at night, but I didn't have my glasses on. I had just gotten glasses. It was the day after my 12th birthday, and it was like a 130-yard hole, and I hit a 3-iron. My dad wanted me to hit a 4-iron, and I hit it. But I couldn't see where the ball went, and I made it for a hole in one, that was my first hole in one.
So this hole in one I didn't see due to darkness and that one I didn't see because I didn't have my glasses on.
Q. I think some of us saw your reaction, which was really not a reaction. Did you have to sort of suppress a celebration on that or did you just not know how to react?
JONATHAN BYRD: I think my initial reaction was I didn't see it, so I didn't know I had made it. So it was just kind of in shock. You're trying to figure it out -- I mean, there is nobody, hardly anybody on the green. All the fans are behind us on the hill or at 18 green, so the fans are yelling up the hill trying to tell us it went in. And it wasn't very loud for us to hear from a fan's perspective. So we didn't really know.
After what felt like a minute, we finally realized it was in. And my first response was like these guys still have to hit. I don't want to jump around on this tee box like a mad man. I just felt like it would be disrespectful. I wanted to give them the opportunity to try to hit a great shot.
They were so gracious. They came over to me and congratulated me and they were great. And Martin Laird whispered in my ear, you know, the putt on 17 should have gone in any way, so you should have won. Which I thought was pretty cool.
Then it's kind of disbelief. You try to take it all in like did that really happen, and that's why my reaction was the way it was.
Q. You had described how it was kind of nice to have that unforeseen break during the FedExCup break during the playoff in the Fall Series. But could you describe what your level of anxiousness or nervousness was going into the Fall Series knowing that you had to play well to retain that full status for next year?
JONATHAN BYRD: Like I said, it was not a position I had been in much since I'd been on TOUR. You have to go play well or you're just going to go down the money list if you don't play well. You also are fighting emotions of trying to go out just to make putts and just trying to make it.
And I'm going, no, I don't want to do that because my game's good. I don't want to do that when I might have a chance to win a golf tournament. So there are just a lot of battles going on.
The previous week in San Jose, I went out and played, and was playing pretty good, not really in contention, and was playing pretty well on Sunday and finished bogey, double par to kind of fall out of maybe a top 50 situation. That cost me $30, $40,000 that would have helped me to give me a little more security on the money list.
So, yes, I was nervous. I was anxious the whole time. Every day I just kind of wake up and realize I'm not in control, and just kind of go play. Also, I was sick. I left the Sea Island tournament and got pretty sick. I had bronchitis the whole week in San Jose. And you saw I was coughing a good bit and fighting that through the week.
It kind of wears you down. I'm pretty tired at this point playing four weeks in a row.
Q. It wasn't that long ago you won at the John Deere in 2007, and since that time, do you feel like it's getting tougher to win on TOUR? It just seems like it's always been tough, but maybe the learning curve as far as the guys coming off the Nationwide Tour and the occasional college star that made an impact right away in the pros. It maybe seems like it just gets more and more competitive every year and maybe it's even much harder now to win a golf tournament on TOUR than it was three years ago when you won at John Deere?
JONATHAN BYRD: I would totally agree with that. I think every year the competition gets better. Every year a new class of guys come up from the Nationwide Tour and come up from the PGA TOUR qualifying school or better every year and better prepared and they have a better chance of winning week to week.
That's just the Nationwide Tour and what a great job they do in producing good players. Then just these college guys are better. They're just better golfers.
I feel like I'm an aging professional golfer. I'm 32. I'm still young. I'm in the prime of my career, but I'm not stupid. I notice the guys are getting better, and it makes me wonder am I doing all I can do to stay competitive out here?
Q. Your ace is getting a lot of talk. If you had a choice on your shot of the year, what would your choice be? That or what Rocco did or the shot of Mickelson out of the pine trees at Augusta, your unbiased vote?
JONATHAN BYRD: Out of those three shots?
Q. Unless you can think of another one.
JONATHAN BYRD: I can't. I don't watch enough golf to know. I would say mine was the most dramatic to actually win a golf tournament with a hole in one. It's something that's never been done. I would think it's probably a different deal trying to win a major.
I would say in the whole scheme of golf, that's more important or more meaningful to hit a shot like he did through the trees. That's obviously very dramatic. But to win a major championship, I don't think that's any more important.
When it involves me, that's the most important thing that can happen to me, so it's obviously very meaningful to me. But golf as a whole, I would say probably a great shot to win a major championship is probably a bigger deal.
Q. But he missed the putt.
JONATHAN BYRD: Well, I mean, you could say it changed the momentum for him to be able to win the tournament. Obviously, that is the main goal. Not necessarily to make eagle, but to win the green jacket, and he was able to do that.
I don't know. I'm kind of struggling emotionally with this whole thing because people are leaving me voice mails like the greatest shot to ever win a golf tournament and all this stuff. And I'm like, really? Are you kidding me? I'm just trying to get on the tee.
In some respects, that playoff, I felt like it was just like we were like 12 years old out there and we're playing a junior tournament and just trying to get in the tournament before dark. That was the fun of it. We're just out there competing.
I just jumped on that tee, and I knew what shot I wanted to hit. I went through my process, and hit it. And it came off like I wanted it to and it went in the hole. It doesn't seem that crazy to me. Then people are saying all this stuff, and I'm kind of struggling with that, if that makes any sense. To me it's just a golf shot, you know.
Q. The last you saw the ball was kind of drawing toward the flag and that was it ?
JONATHAN BYRD: That was it. You're kind of anxious to see where you hit it, and is it online, is it going to land too far and all those things. Then you can't see it, and you're just kind of waiting to see how the people react at the green.
But the last I saw it, it was halfway there or further, and it stopped curving. It was going right at the flag.
Q. How many times have you seen a replay of it?
JONATHAN BYRD: I've probably seen it 15 times. But that first time I saw it, my caddy came over to my room, because we kept our room that night to shower and then go to the airport. He came to my room to give me the flag from the 17th hole, because he had the 18th hole flag. He pulled it up on his phone and he watched it, and we just kept high-fiving each other like how cool was that. Because it went in just like a putt, like how cool is that? So that was the first time I actually saw it.
Q. You're not going to China, are you?
JONATHAN BYRD: No, I think they told me I qualified for it but.
Q. You can tell in your voice that you're still not feeling well. What about on Sunday, did that help a little bit to serve as a distraction not being 100%?
JONATHAN BYRD: Well, I don't know if I would say I wasn't 100%. I've played some great tournaments where I'm sick and I've felt 100% and missed cuts before. I'm starting to think maybe I play better when I'm sick.
I don't think that served as a distraction. I certainly wasn't thinking about it on the course. The main thing, I never told anybody this, but the main thing I kept telling myself on Sunday was I went to the movies that night before and I had seen Secretariat. That was my distraction. I was trying not to think about the golf too much, so I went to the movies by myself.
Watching that horse, he always came out of the gate slow, but he always finished strong to win his races. When I was going to that back nine, I told myself, I came out of the gate slow, but we've just got to finish strong. We've got to finish strong.
My caddy looked at me on 15 and let me know how I stood. Told me I was three back and decided we probably had to birdie last four. And we kept ticking off each hole at a time trying to make a birdie on every hole. Birdied three out of four, and that ended up being good enough to get in the playoff.
Q. You're involved in a charity now in memory of your dad. Could you talk a little bit about that?
JONATHAN BYRD: The tournament we started with my dad we've picked one main charity being Fairway Outreach, which is a ministry charity through the game of golf to underprivileged kids, teaching them golf, teaching them life, and teaching them about Christ.
We've done that, and we feel like my dad loved kids. My dad loved, more than anything else, was staying on the range hitting balls. But even more than that with his boys and then other young kids, helping them out with their games or watching them hit balls. That was just something he loved to do. So we decided that would be a great charity to get ourselves involved in.
We've only had one tournament. We were able to raise about 100,000 dollars last year through auction and a tournament, and we're going to do it again this year. Obviously, having me winning this golf tournament will really help provide some good auction items and some excitement for the tournament this year.
THE MODERATOR: Jonathan, congratulations on a victory and a shot that will not be soon forgotten. We appreciate it.
JONATHAN BYRD: Thank you so much.
End of FastScripts