In the opening round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, a golfer unknown in the golf "champions" conversation, shot a 66 to take the first round lead.
That man was Jonathan Byrd, a four-time PGA Tour winner with his last coming at the Justin Timberlake Shriner's Hospitals for Children Open in 2010. You may remember his walk-off hole-in-one back in October to win the tournament in a playoff.
Time to change four-time to five-time winner. Byrd was able to hold off Roberrt Garrigus, who missed a three-foot birdie putt to extend the playoff, and claim the championship in one hole of overtime play. Byrd closed the round with a 6-under 67.
U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell nearly did enough to make it a three-player playoff, tying the course record with an 11-under 62 on Sunday, but missed a 10-foot birdie putt to get in. He finished third.
To say Byrd's life, and golf career, have been a whirlwind the past few months is an understatement. Prior to the hole-in-one that earned him his fourth career victory, Byrd was fighting to hold on to his Tour card and sitting outside the Top 125 on the money list.
Now, he's automatically qualified for next year's opening tournament in Kapalua, an automatic birth in the Masters and is exempt for the U.S. Open. Taking home $1.1 million for the win is one New Years present Byrd will never forget.
What a difference a few months can make.
The PGA Tour continues its Hawaiian vacation this weekend with the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae (Honolulu, HI). Ryan Palmer is the defending champion and will be joined by a field of 143 golfers.
The Nationwide Tour doesn't kick off until February 24 at the Panama Claro Championship.
The Champions Tour begins next weekend (January 21) with the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. Tom Watson is the defending champion to become the 13th oldest player to win on the Champions Tour, but no word on if he'll be there or not.
The European Tour opens up with the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in South Africa.
The LPGA Tour returns February 17 with the Honda LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course in Chonburi, Thailand.
And just for fun, have a look at how much time ESPN puts into showcasing the LPGA schedule to the PGA Tour schedule. I guess the LPGA Tour doesn't have enough good will with the Worldwide Leader to get links on their page. Blame Michelle Wie?