Byrd triumphs in Kapalua
Kapalua - Jonathan Byrd beat Robert Garrigus in a sudden-death playoff at the PGA Tournament of Champions Sunday, the first American to win the season-opener in a decade.
After both golfers finished at 24-under 268, Byrd parred the second playoff hole to beat fellow American Garrigus on the Plantation golf course at Kapalua Resort.
"Man I just felt good," said Byrd, the first American winner since Jim Furyk in 2001.
"It was a long day. I played solid all day to give myself opportunities."
The two players appeared to be heading to a third playoff hole as Garrigus lined up for a routine three-foot putt on the second extra hole.
But Garrigus botched the shot, handing victory to Byrd, who qualified for the event by making a hole-in-one in near darkness to win a three-man playoff in Las Vegas last year.
"I just hit it too hard," Garrigus said, adding: "I am so tired right now. That shot was a microcosm of how I feel right now. That hole just got me this week."
It was the fifth career USPGA Tour win for Byrd, who earned an automatic invitation to the Masters and is also exempt for the US Open.
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell almost sneaked into the playoff. The reigning US Open champion matched the Plantation Course record with an 11-under 62 to finish one shot behind.
He narrowly missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole.
"This golf course was green-light all day," McDowell said. "I hit a decent putt. I kind of smoked it through the break. It was just a fun day out there."
McDowell finished alone in third place at 23-under 269.
The tournament got off to an inauspicious start with two-time defending champion Geoff Ogilvy having to withdraw with 12 stitches in his hand after a bizarre ocean injury.
The following day, Camilo Villegas was disqualified because of a rules violation that was reported to tournament officials by a television spectator through an Internet Twitter account.
Scores after the final round of the $5.6 million PGA Tournament of Champions (USA unless noted, x-wins in a playoff):
268 - x-Jonathan Byrd 66-68-67-67, Robert Garrigus 69-63-69-67
269 - Graeme McDowell (NIR) 71-68-68-62
272 - Carl Pettersson (SWE) 66-67-71-68, Steve Stricker 69-67-65-71
274 - Ian Poulter (GBR) 70-68-70-66, Matt Kuchar 69-70-66-69
276 - Bill Haas 68-70-69-69
278 - Dustin Johnson 71-66-73-68, Jim Furyk 68-68-72-70, Jason Day (AUS) 73-66-69-70
279 - Justin Rose (GBR) 75-67-69-68, Arjun Atwal (IND) 72-69-68-70, Bill Lunde 70-68-70-71
280 - Francesco Molinari (ITA) 69-67-74-70, Ryan Palmer 70-72-68-70
281 - Tim Clark (RSA) 72-68-73-68, Ernie Els (RSA) 72-64-74-71
282 - Anthony Kim 69-71-74-68, Matt Bettencourt 73-70-70-69
283 - Ben Crane 67-70-74-72, Adam Scott (AUS) 73-67-70-73
284 - Zach Johnson 71-73-69-71, Cameron Beckman 72-71-70-71
285 - Hunter Mahan 70-70-78-67, Bubba Watson 70-70-73-72, Charley Hoffman 68-75-67-75
286 - Heath Slocum 70-74-72-70, Jason Bohn 72-72-72-70
289 - Stuart Appleby (AUS) 69-75-73-72
295 - Rocco Mediate 79-70-75-71
296 - Derek Lamely 72-76-78-70