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February 16 2012

10:51 PM

Byrd: ‘I played real sharp’

Interview: Jonathan Byrd

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.

Byrd 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."

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