January 10 — Robert Garrigus may have lost the Hyundai Tournament of Champions to Jonathan Byrd, but don’t tell him that.
Tourney within a tourney. ‘It was a great week. I shot 6-under and was in a playoff so I mean I felt like I won the ‘tournament within the tournament’ for myself,” Garrigus told reporters following Byrd’s win Sunday on the second playoff hole at Kapalua.
Ironically, it was Garrigus’ short putter that let him down at the end. The 13-year tour vet, who received attention for his 28-inch flat stick after canning a 50-foot eagle putt on 18 to share the third-round lead, missed a 3-footer in extra innings. That was after failing to hole what would have been a winning 12-foot eagle putt at the end of regulation.
None of that fazed Garrigus, who was happy just to be there.
Bring it on. “If you had told me this — I’d have been in a playoff with one of the best players in the world — I’d have said, ‘Hey, bring it on and we’ll get ’em next week,’” said Garrigus, who closed the event with a 6-under 67. “It was a great week. I’ve lost about 133 golf tournaments, and it’s not that big a deal. I get a nice check, and I get to go next week and relax and have fun.”
Indeed, for journeyman Garrigus, it’s all about inner golf. “I think it’s a lot mental…thinking in my brain that I am better than everyone on the golf course,” Garrigus said, describing how he psyches himself up to take on the best golfers in the world. “I have to feel like I am better than every single person mentally, physically, and talent-wise. I just have to think that way.
Positive feedback. “Just knowing every single shot — I’m going to hit this close, they’re not going to beat me — you know….positive stuff that you have to think about,” he added. “It’s really mental more than anything. It’s a lot of fun to think you’re good and actualy do it. It’s a blast.”
As for the winner, Byrd, just three months out from nearly losing his tour card, said he was “overwhelmed” by his good fortune. Byrd shot a 67 Sunday in regulation to set up his second consecutive victory, after winning October’s Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas with a hole-in-one on the fourth playoff hole.
Overwhelmed. “I can’t sit here and not think about where I was toward the end of the season last year, fighting for my card,” Byrd said to the media. “I’m just thankful, I’m overwhelmed, I’m grateful, all of the above.”
Byrd and Garrigus each finished with a 24-under 268, and the playoff win did not come easily for the victor. He missed an 18-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have notched the” W” without needing extra frames. He did the same with a 10-footer on 18 on the first playoff hole. Indeed, he kicked it in for par and, with Garrigus facing his 3-footer, began considering his next tee shot.
It was Byrd’s fifth career victory and with it came benefits beyond the $1.1 winner’s paycheck. The T of C title earned him a spot at the Masters and an exemption for the U.S. Open. He also became the first golfer to win two straight PGA Tour events since Ernie Els hoisted trophies at the 2010 World Golf Championships-CA Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational, according to the PGA Tour.
Course record. It was almost a three-for-all, with golf’s hottest player, Graeme McDowell, just missing out on the overtime fun. McDowell’s final-round 11-under 62 matched the Plantation Course record, but he had to settle for finishing one shot out after missing a 10-foot birdie putt on 18.
Third-round co-leader Steve Stricker carded a 71 Sunday to share fourth place with Carl Pettersson, who ended his week with a 68.
If you missed the brouhaha over Camilo Villegas’ disqualification to start the T of C, read about the New Hampshire golfer/writer who dropped the virtual dime on Villegas’ rules gaffe.