MORE INTERVIEWS: Hyundai Tournament of Champions transcript archive
DOUG MILNE: Like to welcome the winner of the 2011 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Jonathan Byrd, it's your second consecutive win. There were not any par 3s in the playoff for you to make it a little more interesting.
JONATHAN BYRD: Didn't get to it.
DOUG MILNE: You got the job done nonetheless. With the win, you obviously earn a trip back here next year. You pick up 500 FedExCup points right out of the gate. So if we could just turn it over to you for a couple of comments on how you're feeling and we'll open it up for questions.
JONATHAN BYRD: I'm pretty overwhelmed, probably, is the best word to describe it. I can't sit here and not think about where I was towards the end of the season last year fighting for my card, and was content with that, you know, and just kind of fighting to play well and finding joy in that process, too.
Then I win my last tournament of the year, and win it in that fashion, and then get to come to Maui to play in this event, and then feel good coming into here, and work hard in the off season and get back in contention and find myself in another playoff and win another tournament. I'm just thankful, I'm overwhelmed, I'm grateful; all of at above.
Grateful to Robert, man. What a great what a great display of sportsmanship. He's smiling in the playoff. He was probably smiling when he doubled the first hole yesterday and he was smiling after he missed that putt. My hat's off to him.
Q. On 18, just on the GOLF CHANNEL, Robert was 4 under for the week, you were 1 under for the week; were you concerned? Did you think it was advantage him on the first playoff hole?
JONATHAN BYRD: I did think that. And he got up first, and I watched him just hammer it down there, and it sure looked like he hit it a lot further than where his ball it ended up. I don't know if he got a soft hop or not, he had no trouble getting that hole in two.
I was not hitting it quite as solid as I had starting the week and had not been hitting my 3 wood that well off the deck. So I didn't feel comfortable getting it to the green, and I knew I was going to have to rely on my wedge game to win. But I felt comfortable with that. I had a good opportunity in regulation and then the first playoff hole I had another good number with a wedge, and wasn't fortunate enough to hit it close either time.
Q. Things in this game can slip so quickly, so much of last year seemed like a struggle, and then to win back to back; what do you attribute it to??
JONATHAN BYRD: I have to say God's blessing, first. Every good and perfect thing comes from Him, good and bad. It all comes in different packages. So I have to give that credit where its due.
And perseverance. I've worked hard. I've got a great team with my caddie, Adam, and Morris Pickens, who has helped Zach and Stewart and Lucas Glover all win majors. So we have done some good work, Mike Bender, Randy Myers, Keith Kleven and obviously my wife, just kind of not changing anything, kind of keep working at it, keep plugging. And I just kind of kept doing that at the end of the year and it just paid off.
It's strange how if you don't change anything, keep it simple and keep playing and waiting for your stretches, while you're playing, while you're playing tournaments through the season, it's amazing how things starting to your way and you get a few breaks and you find yourself in contention. That's kind of just how it happened. It's not real complicated.
Q. As you're standing there watching Robert hit his first putt on No. 1 in the playoff, what are your thoughts? Are you kind of mentally thinking, if he doesn't make it after the first one, already kind of thinking about No. 2?
JONATHAN BYRD: Yeah, I was already starting to think about two. I was thinking about what club I had hit earlier and how I thought it was going to play a little shorter, because the wind was starting to die down. I just felt like it was a tough putt to make. So I felt, if he makes it, then hats off to him; he won.
But I felt like after watching mine, he had a pretty good look at it. He just gave it a little too much gas and missed the next putt coming back. I felt like we were probably going to keep going and go to the next hole.
Q. A lot of players get a lot of attention that have won five times on the PGA TOUR, do you feel like this victory in primetime on this golf course will elevate you in people's minds??
JONATHAN BYRD: Maybe a little bit. It's definitely the biggest tournament I've ever won. It's a small field. I've won some great tournaments, but I would think this is probably the best field that I've won in my career. So this is definitely a springboard for me.
Q. During the course of the day, did you have a sense of what Graeme was doing and that you needed to keep pressing on the gas??
JONATHAN BYRD: I didn't look at a leaderboard all day, not once. Not even on 18. I just felt like the way I had played this golf course all week is I wasn't trying to force anything. I wasn't trying to I feel like if you force things, you make mistakes.
And I feel like, just go play the golf course. I played the course well all week and just let the birdies come to me. I made a good birdie on 13 and a good birdie on 10 and a good birdie on 15, and I just kind of kept asking my caddie, do I need to know, do I need to know. And when he wasn't telling me anything, I felt like, I still had the lead at that point.
So there wasn't any point in playing the golf course any different. 16 was a good opportunity with a wedge. I felt like I had to make birdie there. Then, you know, 18, so we got we left 17 green and I asked him, what do we need to do and he said we're tired with Robert; he just made birdie. We had to make birdie to win.
So it wasn't until 18th tee that I knew exactly what I needed to do. But I kind of had an idea in the back of my mind obviously.
Q. What's the most important shot you hit today??
JONATHAN BYRD: Most important shot I hit today? I have to say two of them. My second shot on 10, I was cruising through nine holes. Missed the putt on 9, hit a poor putt, should have birdied that hole. And then got on 10 and just hit the worst shot, maybe of the week I think. I hit this little shank cut with a 2 iron and didn't get over the hill. I was definitely the only guy in the field that didn't get over that hill.
And I had an 8 iron and followed up with one of my worst things and one of my best swings of the week and hit an 8 iron in there and made the putt. That was a pretty good momentum boost for me.
I would say the second shot would be the short wedge shot on 15 after fanning another 3 wood. That's a pretty tough shot I had. And I hit a great little wedge shot in there about five feet and made it, four feet.
Q. What do you remember about where you were going into the Fall Series, were you well outside the 125??
JONATHAN BYRD: I was 130th on the Money List.
Q. So you did know. You could have just said yes. And this is going to probably sound like a silly question, but it's the first of the year for me, the way you've played this week, with just great control, you look at it, and you think, if this guy plays like this every week, he would win a bunch of tournaments; so why can't you do that? Do you ever think that way, or is it just me?
JONATHAN BYRD: I've thought that. My time's thought that. It's a valid point. All I'm going to say is that I've played well and under control the last two tournaments, and the whole fall. I played got whole Fall Series. I don't know what it is, reason why you kind of get held back. I feel like I should be doing a lot better.
The best thing I'm doing in my game right now is simplifying things. I complicate things way too much, trying to be perfect, and that's been my largest biggest barrier over my career. And I finally got to the point, I don't know what it is, maybe the other way just hasn't worked and now I'm just kind of simplifying things and just really enjoying playing. I'm having more fun.
Q. How did you come to that conclusion??
JONATHAN BYRD: Well, I just had something hit me. I started playing with no glove at Canada last year, and I just felt like I needed some kind of trick, something to transfer from my eye down to my hands for my ball striking to make it just a little bit better and just to have a little more feel at a tournament. I started playing with a glove and I started waggling the club and I really feel like that's one thing that's helped me have a little more feel in my game and it's helped me be a little more consistent.
And then the attitude. I think you get to a point where you kind of just have a gut check. You get to a point where you might lose your card, which is where I was last year, and it forces you to find a way to play well.
Q. You talked about 18 in the playoff and thinking maybe Robert had the advantage. Was it vice versa on No. 1??
JONATHAN BYRD: No, he still had the advantage. I should have been able to hit it down the hill, but I hit a really poor tee shot. The wind had died down. It wasn't it wasn't much of an advantage, if he got down there and ripped 1 down there, and then I fanned it, and he definitely had an advantage. He was hitting a 9 iron or a wedge back to that pin.
If he had just flown it further pin high off that slope, it comes right down to the hole. I think it just didn't jump out of that lie for him. I had a 3 iron, ripping a 3 iron and he had a wedge or a 9 iron, so he definitely had the advantage.
Q. Is it just a coincidence that both of you guys late in last year were fighting for that card and yet you both get a win late, and then do you so well here this week??
JONATHAN BYRD: I don't know. I think there's definitely some momentum that went in at the end of the year. I spoke earlier in the week about how Australians come in here, kind of their game is ready to play and they come sharp and come hungry and they play well here. And maybe Robert and I, just getting a taste of victory at the end of last year was enough for us to kind of ride it into this week and want to taste it again.
There's something to it for us both to get in a playoff this week, for sure.
Q. You said earlier in the week it was about time an American won this thing. It's been ten years; can you speak to that??
JONATHAN BYRD: Well, like I said, I don't know why an American hasn't won. Maybe it's just that Phil and Tiger aren't showing up. (Laughter) Maybe that's it.
I don't know, I said it's about time for an American to win. I didn't know it was going to be me this week but I'll take it. They were dropping like flies this week, with Camilo and Geoff Ogilvy and then Zach, not sure if he was going to play. It was kind of strange. I was kind of trying to be careful away from the course. I was trying not to get hurt or have a bad ruling. Just try to keep stay in the tournament.
Q. What is the earliest you'd won in a previous year, Turning Stone, Callaway, what am I missing??
JONATHAN BYRD: I didn't win Turning Stone. Callaway Gardens, that was the second to last tournament of the year, the B.C. Open; John Deere was the earliest I ever won.
Q. How does this change your outlook for the year? You're in the Masters, U.S. Open, Bridgestone, maybe Match Play.
JONATHAN BYRD: I don't know, I've got to call Mo, Mo Pickens, figure out what I should be thinking now.
I thought about that last night in my head. I thought, what if I won this tournament. You know, you win the first tournament, how do you go win the Sony? I don't know. I guess the best thing is just not change anything. Keep enjoying playing. I'm playing next week and then I've got two weeks off at home and then I come back out for Phoenix. I'm not going to change anything. I'm just going to keep playing.
The goal for this week was for it to come down to the last nine holes and have a chance to win, and you don't all win, but fortunately I did this week. So try to go into Sony next week, and I'm going to have to tighten up my driver a little bit, because that's going to be tough. It's a lot tighter golf course, so I'm going to work on that, and try to get into contention come Sunday there. And just take it one tournament at a time.
Q. Do your goals change coming into this year compared to last year??
JONATHAN BYRD: I didn't really have any result goals. Obviously I want to win every year. But my team and I, we broke it down to three things. I had to get better in my short putting, inside five feet. That was first and foremost for me to play well. And secondly was to hit my wedges closer, so I worked hard on my wedge this is off season.
I actually switched golf balls to the Black Titleist ball. This is my first tournament with this ball, to try to perform better, a little softer ball for my wedges, and then to drive the ball a little better, because I didn't drive it quite as good last year. We felt like if I focus on those three things, the results will come winning golf tournaments; better schedule, get in the Masters, get in the majors, things like that. I do really well when you kind of get it down to a couple of things and then work really hard at that and it just pays off.
First year I worked with Mike Bender, first thing, I've got to hit more greens. Next year I was No. 1 on the TOUR in ball striking. So small, simple goals I do well with.
DOUG MILNE: Jonathan, congratulations, well deserved.