It always appeared as if it would take something out of the ordinary to end the deadlock between Jonathan Byrd, Martin Laird and Australian rookie Cameron Percy to win the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas today but nobody could have imagined it would end the way it did.
At the 4th extra hole of a playoff between the three and with darkness preventing any further holes, Byrd holed a six iron from 195 yards at the par three 17th and effectively ended the hopes of defending champion, Laird, and Percy.
Perhaps shell-shocked a little by what they had both just witnessed Laird and Percy pulled their attempts to match Byrd's heroics into the water left and it was all over.
It was Byrd's fourth PGA Tour victory and came more than three years after his third at the John Deere Classic in 2007.
On a day where as many as twenty players still had a mathematical chance of winning the event with nine holes to play, Laird, Byrd and Percy emerged as the playoff contenders with Percy holing from 12 feet at the final hole of regulation to join Byrd and laird in the lead. Laird was unable to birdie any of his final three holes and the trio headed back to the 18th in fading light.
Pars at the opening three holes by all would mean a decision was required by the players only for the playoff to continue. All three chose to proceed but Laird asked the question if it could be brought to a halt if, when they reached the green at the 4th, it was determined to be too dark to read the green.
It was agreed that option was available to him and so they proceeded. The issue of being able to read the green became irrelevant when Byrd's 7 iron pitched 15 feet short of the cup and then bounced forward into the hole.
Laird and Percy tied for second with Percy pocketing an all important US$378,000 and taking his earnings for the season to US$585,000. He will leap to 144th on the money list.
With just one event counting towards this season's money list remaining for Percy he still needs perhaps another US$180,000 (top five or better) at the season ending event in Orlando in three weeks time if he is to finish inside the top 125. Even if he can hold on and finish inside the top 150 however he will have done his future on the PGA Tour a lot of good.
Finishing indie the top 150 guarantees Percy perhaps as many as 15 starts on the 2011 PGA Tour and earns exemption right through to the Final Stage of Q School should he need it.
Aaron Baddeley tied for 8th and assures himself of full status next year by moving to 110th on the money list. John Senden had his chances on the final day but could not finish it off and finished 11th a bogey at the last by both Baddeley and Senden proving costly.
About The Author : Bruce Young
A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.
Jonathan Byrd has become the first American born golfer to win the opening event of the PGA Tour season since 2001 by outlasting fellow American Robert Garrigus to win the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii today.