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Jonathan Byrd wins Las Vegas’ PGA Tour event with playoff hole-in-one

Martin Laird, Cameron Percy tie for second after four-hole playoff

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Steve Marcus

Jonathan Byrd kisses his trophy after winning the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open golf tournament at TPC Summerlin Sunday, October 24, 2010. Byrd made a hole-in-one during a playoff round to beat Cameron Percy and last year’s champion Martin Laird.

Updated Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010 | 7:59 p.m.

Jonathan Byrd wins with Hole-in-One

Jonathan Byrd hugs his caddie Adam Hayes after winning the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open golf tournament at TPC Summerlin Sunday, October 24, 2010. Byrd made a hole-in-one during a playoff round to beat Cameron Percy and last year's champion Martin Laird. Launch slideshow »

The onlookers thought they were being obnoxious.

“Get in the hole,” a few yelled seconds after Jonathan Byrd hit his tee shot on the fourth playoff hole of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin.

Sarcasm quickly turned to shock when Byrd’s drive took two hops and rolled into the 17th hole. With the miraculous shot, Byrd won Las Vegas’ 2010 PGA Tour event with a hole-in-one.

If it sounds preposterous, that’s because it is. It was the first time a PGA Tour event ever ended with a hole-in-one.

Byrd, who won $774,000 and the third tournament of his career, said it was only the second time he had ever made a hole-in-one during his 10-year stint in the PGA Tour.

“I thought I hit it too good. I thought I hit it too far and I couldn’t see anything,” Byrd said. “But to hear the reaction as it went in, I was just in shock. I was trying to be considerate of my playing partners because two more guys had a chance to keep playing and I didn’t want to overreact. I’m numb.”

Last year’s champion Martin Laird and Australian rookie Cameron Percy each had a chance to duplicate Byrd’s heroics but, unsurprisingly, couldn’t pull it off.

“You can’t ever prepare for a hole-in-one,” Laird said. “But he hit a great shot.”

Byrd, an Anderson, S.C., native, almost didn’t have a chance at making history. Darkness nearly forced play to be delayed until Monday morning after the third playoff hole.

PGA officials convened on the 18th green after all three players parred the third playoff hole to discuss their options. Byrd, Laird and Percy all agreed to play one more hole but said they would stop if they reached the green and it was too dark.

Byrd, who didn’t want to stay another night, made sure that wasn’t an issue.

“I obviously wanted to win the golf tournament, but I hadn’t seen my wife and my kids in two weeks and I was going to miss the flight tonight and we were going to be playing,” he said. “That didn’t sound too good.”

Byrd escaped an even dicier situation moments before the delay conversation. His approach shot on the par-four 18th during the third playoff hole bounced off the green and down a hill toward the lake.

The ball rolled for a few seconds, before reaching a halt a mere inches before the water. If it would have landed in the lake, Byrd would have been forced to take a penalty shot and out of contention.

“I thought it was in the water,” Byrd said. “I thought I was done. And then at the last minute, I heard somebody cheer and they don’t cheer when it goes into the water.”

He saved par by chipping onto the green and making a nine-foot putt. It kept Byrd alive shortly after it looked like he had won the tournament.

On the second playoff hole, Byrd had a birdie putt from 25 feet that appeared right on target. The ball reached the hole, but rang out and prolonged the playoff.

“That putt on 17 should have gone in the first time around, so it was deserved,” Laird said. “I don’t know how that putt stayed out to be honest.”

Byrd made crucial shots at key moments all afternoon. He started the day a stroke behind Laird and was down two when he got to the 14th hole.

Byrd proceeded to birdie four of the last five holes to put himself into the playoff. But no one is going to remember this year’s tournament for what happened at the end of regulation. They will never forget it for how it ended.

“It’s kind of absurd,” Byrd said. “It all worked out as good as it could have.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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