What they said: Jonathan Byrd

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January 06, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Hyundai Tournament of Champions transcript archive

JOHN BUSH: Jonathan Byrd joins us, our first round leader with a 6 under par 67. Great start to the tournament, great start to the year. Talk a little bit about that round, which included six straight birdies.

JONATHAN BYRD: Yeah, the front nine was fun. You're kind of never sure what you've got starting off the first round of the year, first tournament, and started off the first hole and didn't hit very good shots on that hole but made a really nice two putt on the first hole, long putt, downwind, downgrain and lagged it up there close, and that kind of eased me, calmed me down a little bit.

Hit a good shot into the next hole, made a par. And then six straight birdies. I was just kind of plugging along playing the golf course just trying to give myself looks, and the putts just kept going in.

Midway through the round was a little shaky at spots, but for the most part I struck it well all day and I hit good putts and I just felt good out there.

Q. Jonathan, six in a row. What were you thinking after being 6 under through 8? What were the possibilities at that point?

JONATHAN BYRD: Yeah, it's hard not to get ahead of yourself a little bit. Last year I remember I was 5 under through 9, birdied 9, went 5 under, and then holed out on 10 for eagle to go 7 under through 10 and kind of struggled the rest of the round because I kind of got ahead of myself and really started playing careful, trying not to mess it up. For whatever reason that kind of happens, instead of just keep playing the golf course aggressively, and I kind of did that. 9, I made a bad decision on my second shot on 9, not that it was the wrong play, but with driver off the deck, my miss is if I don't do it right, it's going to not be good.

I make a bogey on 9, which is just awful. But then to go the back nine, and I hit some pretty good shots and gave myself a lot of good opportunities and didn't feel like I scored that well on the back nine and had good opportunities on the last two holes and wasn't able to convert. I feel like I left a couple out there.

Q. Where did the ball go on 9??

JONATHAN BYRD: I just leaked a driver right with the wind in a bunker, so I had like a 55 yard bunker shot. I kind of duffed it out and chipped it up, missed the putt, made bogey. It kind of takes the wind out of your sails when you do that.

Q. You mentioned you're not really sure what to expect the first round of the year and so forth, but really, at the end it doesn't take long to get back into it, does it??

JONATHAN BYRD: No, it's amazing how good it feels, too, once you get out there. You're kind of a little anxious to start out. I'm always nervous. I don't think that'll ever go away. I just kind of get excited to compete and get out there, and I'm a little nervous. And you're just kind of I never really play my best when I'm just really confident. I do my best when I'm a little uneasy and I'm really kind of managing my misses around the golf course and not trying to just flag it.

And I think you've got to play this golf course that way because of all the conditions and slopes. But just to get out there, you're just kind of like, whoa, six birdies in a row. I can't remember the last time I did that. It's been a while.

Q. I was going to ask you when you had a similar hot streak.

JONATHAN BYRD: I remember doing it. I remember one day I had six in a row, and it was when my dad was alive, and I remember calling him and telling him, hey, I just had six birdies today and talking to him about it, and then he called me like four days later and he had had six birdies in a row, so that sticks out in my mind because he thought he topped me, and he was excited to call me and tell me that. But it doesn't happen too often.

Q. Safe to say you have a pretty good comfort level on this course??

JONATHAN BYRD: Yeah, I do. I feel good around it. I feel like I know how to play it. You start off on a day on the first round of the day and the wind is blowing like that, it's hard not to feel a little uneasy. But you just have to make smart decisions and there and you have to play more break than you think on a lot of putts.

I don't know, the way I practice when I putt and chip, I try to hit severe shots. I try to get the extremes, especially when I'm putting around holes with a lot of break. I think that helps when I get here because you have so many putts with so much break that you've got to really judge your speed properly.

Q. You'll take a hole on a massive slope and

JONATHAN BYRD: When I practice my short putting, like three to five feet, I get a hole with the most slope possible, because if you hit straight three footers all day, you kind of get in a groove and they're easy, but if you're hitting putts with a lot of break you're developing more feel with your vision and you're getting more out of that practice. I may hit 100 putts from three to five feet with a lot of break, and you turn out to have a lot of putts like that here.

That's the way I practice in my practice rounds. I hit a lot of chips and putts where they're downwind, downgrain, long putts, and then real long putts into the grain uphill into the wind, so you get the extremes, and then you've practiced everything from here to there, so everything in the middle is you can figure it out.

Q. You're making those long putts on the front, and then on the back it looked like you were struggling a little more reading the putts. What was the difference between the front and the back??

JONATHAN BYRD: I was just mis hitting them. On the front I just kind of was looking and reacting, and when I do that, the ball comes off on line with good pace, and my putts on the back nine just lacked a little bit of pace and mis hit them a little bit, and they just kind of eke up to the hole instead of going in with a little pace. I'm not misreading them. Whoa, I misread the putt on 18. That's kind of where you're embarrassed. You're leading the golf tournament and you walk off a hole embarrassed. But I was; I whiffed on there, hit a bad putt. I didn't hit a good second putt, but I hit a very bad first putt.

Q. Martin and Steve both said they thought that the front nine was playing tougher than the back. What were your impressions of the two nines??

JONATHAN BYRD: Well, I think I always feel like that front nine, if you get through the first two holes, you just kind of make two pars on those two holes, try to hit it in the middle of the green on 2 and give myself a look. And 1, if you get it way down there it's a birdie hole, but I feel like those two holes you just kind of get through them. I hit a great shot into 3 with an 8 iron and then you've got a wedge on the next hole and a reachable par 5 and a short par 4, and then 7 is downwind. That stretch, I think there's a lot of birdies in there. So it's just kind of managing the 8th hole and the first couple holes, and you've got plenty of opportunities.

But I played the course the same way last year. I felt like I got the front nine and then the back nine I played not quite as good for the week.

Q. First round of the year, were you really uptight about what you would shoot today??

JONATHAN BYRD: I thought about it a little bit. You want to get off to a good start. But really getting the last tee time today, I was able to have a good morning. I had some good conversations with my wife, just kind of get a good perspective starting out.

Q. What did she tell you??

JONATHAN BYRD: We kind of talked about Ben Crane has come out with a devotional book. He started it last year, and he had some of the players write some of them, so I wrote the one for this week, three of the four days, and mine was all about last year I remember I told people, I got in the locker room on Wednesday and I was looking at everybody's lockers and seeing what tournaments they had won, and mine just didn't feel like it measured up. I kind of got discouraged, and the excitement that I had had coming kind of left, and I was kind of stressed out feeling like I had to go prove myself again, even after I come to this tournament a winner.

That's just you're kind of believing a lie and you've got to go prove yourself week in and week out. You guys make it hard on us. As good as we play, you still say, what's your next goal; now you've got to go win a major. And every year you feel like you've got to validate yourself and prove yourself. It's just a hard way to live.

We talked about that and kind of backing up and let's go have fun and let's go see what we've got and play a couple weeks and evaluate and go from there.

Q. If you win this week will you expect (inaudible)?(inaudible)?

JONATHAN BYRD: No, I missed the cut in all four last year, so if you go stats, I'm just trying to make it to the weekend.

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