By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Padraig Harrington and Jonathan Byrd were declared co-winners of Wednesday's abbreviated Par 3 Contest, which was halted late in the day to inclement weather.
Does that mean we should cross them off the list of contenders for this week's Masters title?
No player who has won the Par 3 Contest has gone on to win the Masters in the same week. Last year’s winner, Luke Donald, opted not to defend his title this year so he could concentrate on winning the main event.
But Byrd said he wasn't worried about the jinx as he stood over his birdie putt at the final hole at the ninth. He rolled in the putt just before the sirens sounded to suspend play. That moved him to 5 under, tying Harrington atop the leaderboard.
"I like making putts, whatever they are for," Byrd said.
Harrington, meanwhile, is used to winning the Par 3 Contest. In 2003, he shared the honors with David Toms and in 2004, he won outright. This year and 2003 are the only times in the history of the Par 3 Contest that dual winners have been declared.
Harrington, playing the Par 3 Contest for the 13th time in his career, said he didn't do anything special this time.
"I didn't hole out. I didn't hit anything stone dead or anything like that," the Irishman said. "Actually pretty average shots and played nicely for nine holes."
Adam Scott also reached 5 under at one point during his round but fell back to 4 under and in a tie for third with Webb Simpson and Jerry Pate. The latter two were still on the course when play was halted.
Two holes-in-one were made – by Mark Wilson at the fourth hole and Thomas Bjorn at the ninth. Since the inaugural Par 3 Contest in 1960, 75 holes-in-one have been recorded.
The tee times for the first round of this week’s The Transitions Championships have been released. CLICK HERE for the tee times. Use the space below to comment about the pairings at the Copperhead Course.
Here’s a look at some of the notable groups in the first two rounds:
Zach Johnson/Geoff Ogilvy/Padraig Harrington, 8:27 a.m.,
How strong is the field this week? This three major champions are among 17 that showed up.
John Huh/David Toms/Jonathan Byrd, 8:37 a.m., No. 1
Rookie John Huh finds himself in an "A" pairing after his win last month at the Mayakoba Classic.
Luke Donald/Justin Rose/K.J. Choi, 1:33 p.m, No. 1
The world No. 2 (Donald) tees it up with last week's winner (Rose) and a two-time winner here (Choi).
Bud Cauley/Ryo Ishikawa/Tom Lewis, 2:04 p.m., No. 1
The oldest player in this group, Cauley, is all of 21 years old (in all fairness, he turns 22 on Friday). Lewis, who turned pro after last year's British Open, makes his U.S. debut.
Gary Woodland/Webb Simpson/Scott Stallings, 1:22 p.m., No.
This trio finished 1-2-3 last year at Copperhead. Stallings is making his return to the TOUR after missing four weeks with an injury.
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- The lead is now one after Phil Mickelson made his first bogey of the day at the eighth hole.
He missed the right fairway and then hit his approach just short of the narrow green. Mickelson still had a 6-footer to save par but he couldn't convert.,
Lefty's closest competitors, Bill Haas and Jonathan Byrd, have just made the turn in 33 and 34, respectively. They are 7 under as they chase Mickelson and what would be their first wins of the season.
Jarrod Lyle, a q-school grad due to become a dad next month, is tied at 6 under while Keegan Bradley, who is playing with Mickelson.
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Phil Mickelson, who is going to back-to-back wins, just gave himself a little breathing room when he rolled in a 6-footer for birdie at the par-4 fifth hole.
He’s now 9 under and two strokes ahead of Bill Haas, who has completed seven holes, and the resilient Jonathan Byrd, who bounced back from his double bogey at No. 5 with a 6-footer for birdie at the next.
Keegan Bradley, who held a share of the 54-hole lead, continues to struggle. He has just made his second straight bogey, three-putting from 32 feet to fall back to 5 under for the tournament.
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Phil Mickelson has the lead alone after two-putting for par from 26 feet on the fourth hole.
That's because Jonathan Byrd has just made double bogey at No. 6. He hit his tee shot well left near the cart path and was only able to advance the ball about 50 yards. He barely got his third shot on the green, then three-putted from 68 feet, missing from 7 for the bogey.
Bill Haas is now Mickelson's nearest challenger after moving to 7 under with his second birdie of the day at No. 6 where a pinpoint iron left a 25-inch putt.
Both of Mickelson’s playing partners, Keegan Bradley and Bryce Molder, had bogeys at No. 4. Bradley was short of the green, chipped on and missed a 6-footer to save par while Molder three-putted from 26 feet.
Following his opening-round 68, Jonathan Byrd talks to Bob Stevens from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Jonathan Byrd rented a house this week that sits atop one of the many scenic bluffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean near Riviera Country Club.
The wind was "howling" when he got up Thursday morning and walked outside to catch a breath of fresh air. Byrd knew the gusty conditions did not bode well for the first round of the Northern Trust Open.
"I was pretty anxious about playing this golf course today," acknowledged Byrd, who teed off at 7:27 a.m. local time.
While the conditions were by no means easy, though -- the scoring average Thursday morning was more than two strokes above par at 73.76 -- Byrd was able to get home in red numbers. His round of 3 under included five birdies, three on an unblemished front nine, and just two bogeys.
Byrd said much of the course was playing downwind, which is
unusual at Riviera. With the exception of Nos. 7, 8, 9, 17 and 18
– “the holes you’d got to kind of hold on,”
he said -- the South Carolinian was able to play more aggressively
than he had expected when he ventured out of the house in the wee
hours of the morning.
"My approach to the golf course today was just to kind of keep it in play and kind of have a pretty conservative game plan," Byrd said. "But once we got out there the greens were a little softer than I thought they'd be, and I just hit a lot of good iron shots. I kept it in play off the tee. Two bogeys, one three putt, and then a bogey on 18, which is kind of understandable. I played real sharp.'
Byrd's round got off to a good start when he two-putted from 19 feet at No. 1 for his first birdie. He made a 5-footer at the third hole and lipped out an 8-iron at No. 7 for a tap-in birdie that he deemed his best of the day.
Byrd made his first bogey of the day at the 11th hole, but got to 4 under with consecutive birdies at Nos. 16 and 17. He hooked it into the rough off the 18th tee and was unable to reach the green on the way to a closing bogey "but that's a tough hole no matter what," Byrd said.
According to Byrd, discerning the direction of the wind wasn't that much of a challenge on Thursday. But the downwind holes made club selection difficult since it's not the predominant wind.
"It was hard to stop it on some of the holes, a hole like No. 12, and then when you get that much downwind it will knock it down some of the time," he explained. "Some of those shots are actually more difficult than the into the wind holes."
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
KAPALUA, Hawaii – Jonathan Byrd needs to make up five strokes in order to catch playing partner and tournament leader Steve Stricker in Monday’s final round at the Plantation Course. But despite the large deficit, don’t expect significant changes in his game plan.
“I don’t foresee myself changing my game plan a whole lot,” said Byrd, who entered this week as the defending champion. “I’ve just got to make putts and Stricker has got to not play like he’s been playing.”
One is at the 297-yard par-4 14th. Byrd has laid up on that hole each of the first three rounds, although he did make birdie in the third round after hitting his second shot to within eight feet. But depending on where he stands on the leaderboard, his thought process might change Monday.
“That’s a possible hole that you may pull out a driver if you need to make a 2,” he said.
Also, Byrd could decide to be more aggressive on the par 5s. This week, he’s 6 under on the par 5s and 8 under on the par 4s. Stricker, on the other hand, has dominated the par 5s – he’s 11 under on those holes.
“You might be a little more aggressive going at a pin on the green,” Byrd said.
Steve Stricker and Jonathan Byrd will tee off at 4:05 p.m. ET (11:05 a.m. in Hawaii)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- First tournament of the year. First round. A shaky tee shot at the opening hole. A nice two-putt to calm the nerves. A solid par on the next hole. Then ...
Six consecutive birdies.
Welcome to the 2012 season, Jonathan Byrd.
"The front nine was fun," Byrd said. "You're kind of never sure what you've got starting off the first round of the year."
Of his six straight birdies, the last three came on putts from longer than 26 feet. With Byrd headed to one of the easiest holes on the course, the par-5 ninth, and with a back nine playing easier than the front, it wasn't hard to imagine some spectacular possibilities.
In fact, Byrd had a similar feeling in the first round a year ago. He was 6 under through his first 10 holes, going out in 31 just like he did on Friday.
Byrd eventually finished that day with a 66, his low round of the week. But he remembers playing a little too cautiously on the back nine that day.
"It's hard not to get ahead of yourself a little bit," he said.
On Friday, the momentum stopped at nine when he leaked a driver off the deck to the right and struggled out of the greenside bunker. He called the bogey at the ninth "just awful."
"It kind of takes the wind out of your sails when you do that," he noted.
He dropped another shot at the par-3 11th, but bounced back with a birdie and added another one at the 16th. That last birdie is the difference between him and the four players -- Stricker, Webb Simpson, Michael Bradley and Martin Laird -- immediately behind him on the leaderboard.
But the lead may not be as important as the comfort level Byrd feels at Kapalua.
"I feel like I know how to play it," he said.
The scores certainly reflect that.
KAPALUA, Hawaii – En route to shooting a 6-under 67 that gives him the first-round lead by one shot, Jonathan Byrd made three long birdie putts during a six-hole stretch in which he posted six consecutive birdies.
Here’s the highlight of each of those birdies.
Jonathan Byrd makes a birdie putt of 29 feet, 1 inch.