By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
LAS VEGAS -- Jonathan Byrd hit one of the most exciting shots in PGA TOUR history to win the 2010 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Three years later, he's at TPC Summerlin trying to regain his full TOUR status.
Byrd is starting this season on a major medical extension; he will regain full status if he can earn $166,517 in 10 starts. He shot 63 in his first round of the 2013-14 season, making nine birdies, an eagle and three bogeys Thursday at TPC Summerlin. He was three shots behind leader J.J. Henry after the morning wave completed play.
Byrd won the 2010 Shriners with the first hole-in-one in a playoff in PGA TOUR history. He said he thinks about the ace whenever he plays TPC Summerlin, but "sometimes it's the last thing I think about. I think about par putts I made, and birdie putts I made, to stay in the playoff or get in the playoff. Every shot means something when you win a golf tournament, so you kind of remember them all."
Byrd had surgery on his left wrist Oct. 29, 2012. He didn't return until the last week of March, making just five cuts in 16 starts in 2013. A runner-up in his second-to-last start of the season, the Reno-Tahoe Open, accounted for $264,000 of his $428,966 in earnings, giving him a smaller mountain to climb with regards his major medical extension. A medical extension gives players who missed time due to injury extra starts to match No. 125 on the previous year's money list.
"I'm very thankful for Reno, because if I hadn't played well there I'd be in a much more stressful position. I'll be happy when I get the major medical past me, because then I can really focus on the season," said Byrd, a five-time TOUR winner. "That's my first goal, to make that money, whether it's in one tournament or 10 tournaments. It's been a mental struggle more than it's been a physical struggle.
On the scorecard, it added up to a 64. On the leaderboard, it was good for a whopping 18 points.
In the end, though, it wasn't enough for Jonathan Byrd to catch Gary Woodland, who leads Byrd by four points at the Reno-Tahoe Open, where the Modified Stableford Scoring System is in use.
Woodland is on the back nine and trying to hang on for his first win in two years.
For Byrd, the strong finish couldn't have come at a better time. He came into the week 189th in FedExCup points. A runner-up could move him inside the top 150 with only one event to go for Byrd until the start of the FedExCup Playoffs.
"I felt like I was getting into a good play rhythm (Saturday), and I haven't felt that a whole lot this year," said Byrd, who made just four cuts in 14 starts prior to this week. "That was one of the first days I've felt that way on the golf course. I felt like I was going to make putts and felt like I was going to hit good shots."
He made plenty of them Sunday at Montreux Golf & Country Club, piling up seven birdies, an eagle and just one bogey.
Four of those birdies came in his first five holes, including a chip-in on No. 1.
"Just felt like I had to keep the pedal down," Byrd said. "This is the best I've played here."
It's Zurich Classic week -- and Chris Couch (2006) and David Frost (1990) both sealed their wins in New Orleans in dramatic fashion. Check out the top 10 hole outs that have sealed victory on the 72nd hole or in sudden death on the PGA TOUR (excluding majors).
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Jonathan Byrd will be getting a late start on the PGA TOUR after October surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left wrist. He's expected to return to the PGA TOUR in March as the Florida swing gets under way.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Byrd had five top-10 finishes for the second straight year -- and three of those came in a four-tournament stretch that began at the Wells Fargo Championship. He shot 22 under at Quail Hollow as he tied for ninth then 12th, 10th and sixth in his next three starts. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: I thought J-Byrd was in for a great season after taking Steve Stricker to the limit in at the Hyundai. That T3 ended up being his best finish of the year. Byrd was frustrated with his iron play last season, ranking 136th in greens in regulation. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: A very average year inside the ropes complemented a busy life away from the golf course. He welcomed his third child in late March, and then had season-ending surgery on his left wrist (torn tendon) in late October. (He didn't play after the Deutsche Bank Championship anyway.) It will prevent him from competing early in 2013, if not for the entire West Coast Swing. Veteran gamers are already licking their chops at what might be a salary bargain for 2013-14. Indeed, around every dark cloud is a greedy lining. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
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2012 QUICK REVIEW
|Regular Season ranking
|Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||T3||Hyundai Tournament of Champions|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 15
Rounds played: 68
Top-10 finishes: 5
Money List rank: 50th
Driving distance: 96th
Driving accuracy: 145th
Greens in regulation: 136th
Strokes gained-putting: 41st
Scoring average: 78th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
What is your prediction for Jonathan Byrd in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know.
SILVIS, Ill. -- Tee times have been released for the first two rounds of this week’s the John Deere Classic. Here’s a look at some of the notable and more intriguing groups.
Which groups are you most interested in following this week? Fill out the form below and let us know.
Scott Piercy, Rory Sabbatini, Charley Hoffman: Piercy is coming off a top 15 finish at Greenbrier. Sabbatini and Hoffman both have top-five finishes recently -- but no wins.
Ted Potter Jr., Zach Johnson, Nick Watney: One week after his unlikely win at The Greenbrier, Potter finds himself paired with a couple of A-listers at TPC Deere Run. Johnson already has a win this season, and the Iowa native badly wants to win this event.
K.J. Choi, Jonathan Byrd, Stewart Cink: These three veterans all have multiple PGA TOUR wins -- but Choi's 2011 PLAYERS win remains the most recent. Byrd won this tournament in 2007.
Kyle Stanley, Steve Stricker, Camilo Villegas: Already with a win this season and three previous John Deere titles, Stricker is the favorite this week. He is paired with Kyle Stanley, whom he beat with a birdie on the 72nd hole last year.
Got a question for Jonathan Byrd? Send us your questions for Direct Connect — PGATOUR.COM’s video franchise that gets you closer to a PGA TOUR pro each week — and host John Swantek might use it when he chats with Byrd, who won the 2007 John Deere Classic and will be one of the favorites at TPC Deere Run.
If you’ve been wanting to ask Byrd a question, now is your opportunity. Just fill out the form below.
Also, we are now taking video submissions of questions. If you would like to send a video of you asking your question, please email the video to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep video to 20 seconds or less, shoot landscape style, and include your name and where you’re from in the text of your email.
Direct Connect video is posted each Wednesday afternoon on PGATOUR.COM, so please check back then for the Watson interview.