Las Vegas, Nevada (September 7, 2011)–Who you calling lucky? In a lighted-hearted press conference today in Las Vegas' TPC Summerlin clubhouse, that was the general feeling when it came to PGA Tour player Jonathan Byrd. Byrd infamously aced the 17th hole during a playoff of the 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. It was the first time in history that a PGA Tour event ended with an ace. –-By Brian Hurlburt.
"I was lucky … " admitted Byrd, but only after Gary Dunwoody, the Chairman of the Shriners tournament committee, jokingly reminded everyone–and Byrd–that he was fortunate to get into a playoff and to have a chance at the historic shot. " … I was just in shock. As all my friends continue to remind me, and ESPN, that it's one of the greatest shots in golf history, (but the) worst reaction in golf history. Because I didn't jump around the tee box like I should have. And internally that was happening. … I'd had a struggle of a year, and things were very not coming easy last year. And then I make a hole-in-one to win the golf tournament after I've been leading, I'm in the final group. I could have just gone out there and shot 67 and won, but it came through after all that and a hole-in-one, and I'm in shock, like 'how does it end this way?" Watch the ace now. Byrd got into the playoff after birdieing holes 15-17 in regulation and was also helped when tournament leader Webb Simpson made double bogey on 17.
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"We have been truly blessed with some great players in this particular fall event," said Dunwoody. "So I could not ask for anything better. I would hope Jonathan comes up with something better this year, but I don't know what it would be … a hole-in-one on 17 especially when he was lucky to be in the playoff, but anyway, he did. Given a second chance, the boy did pretty good." Dunwoody was also quick to point out that the city of Las Vegas is a wonderful place, and that the Shriners are committed to having a PGA Tour event here. And, he said, the Shriners turned down an offer to become the title sponsor of a PGA Tour event in Tampa, Florida, that is a part of the FedEx Cup Playoffs (it is a goal of the Shriners to get the Las Vegas event into the FedEx Cup).
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Byrd took the banter by Dunwoody in good spirits, and is stilled amazed at his good fortune that big week in Las Vegas and ever since. He went on to win the Hyundai Tournament of Champions following the Las Vegas victory, and currently is 13th in the 2011 FedEx Cup standings with two events to play. And, on top of everything else, the 6-iron he used is now a part of an exhibit at the World Golf Hall of Fame. "I gave them that club," said Byrd. "I thought about keeping the actual real one and having it in my office and pulling a little switcheroo on them, but I ended up sending it to them. I thought it was a cool opportunity, and they are doing an exhibit with Paul Goydos's 59 and my hole-in-one. To ever think I would be in the World Golf Hall of Fame for one shot like that, take advantage of the opportunity. I think it's good for golf and it's good for this tournament. So, it's pretty neat." Photo: Steve Spatafore.