Byrd’s hole-in-one stunner wins play-off

IN a decisive finish, Jonathan Byrd won a three-man playoff with a hole-in-one on the fourth extra hole in the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital Open.

Moments earlier, Byrd stood on the 18th with Martin Laird and Cameron Percy as they discussed whether there was enough light to continue. They agreed to play one more hole – the 204-yard 17th at the TPC Summerlin.

And the playoff essentially ended with one swing.

It was too dark for Byrd to see his ball land about 10 feet short of the flag and roll into the cup, and even the cheers from a smattering of fans around the green weren’t convincing.

“Did that go in?” Byrd asked his caddie.

Almost as stunning was that Byrd remained in the playoff. On the third playoff hole, the par-4 18th, Byrd’s approach tumbled over the green and was one hop away from going into the water.

Instead, it settled in a clump of grass, he chipped up to seven feet and made the par putt just to stay alive. One swing later, he only had to wait for Laird and Percy to hit their shots – and they both hit into the water – to come up with his first win of the year.

“I’m in shock,” Byrd said, speaking for everyone watching another Fall Series thriller. Only a week ago, Rocco Mediate won the Open at CordeValle by holing a wedge for eagle on the 17th of the final round, right after Alex Prugh came within inches of holing out from the tee box with a driver.

This one was even more incredible, and it came at just the right time. Byrd was No. 117 on the money list going into Las Vegas, and his fourth career victory gives him a two-year exemption.

Players have made an eagle with a full swing on the final hole to win tournaments – Isao Aoki in the Hawaiian Open – but a walk-off ace is among the rarest moments in golf.

Byrd closed with a 68, and he had to watch four times – once in regulation, three times in a playoff – as Laird stood over a birdie putt with a chance to win. That sequence started in regulation, when Laird had a 30-foot birdie try. Laird, the defending champion, shot 69.


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