Byrd brings pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to mi­nor leagues of golf

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LOS ANGELES: With five vic­to­ries, Jonathan Byrd had such a pro­duc­tive PGA Tour ca­reer that spend­ing any time on the de­vel­op­men­tal Web.com Tour never crossed his mind. His only stop in the mi­nor leagues was in 2001, so long ago that it then was known as the Buy.com Tour.

A year af­ter his play­off vic­tory in the 2011 Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons at Ka­palua, how­ever, Byrd had wrist surgery. He missed three months to start 2013, and his game and con­fi­dence slowly eroded to the point that he was try­ing to make cuts, make money and keep his job.

“You stop try­ing to bring your best and you’re try­ing just to stay out here, and that’s no way to play,” Byrd said last month at the RSM Clas­sic. “The tighter you hang on, the far­ther you get away from what you’re do­ing.”

With noth­ing but past cham­pion sta­tus that would of­fer him lim­ited starts, his best op­tion to re­gain a full PGA Tour card was to spend a year on the Web.com Tour. That can be a tough pill for some­one who had never come close to los­ing his PGA Tour card be­fore the in­jury.

Byrd, who turns 39 in Jan­uary, brought with him an at­ti­tude that is worth em­u­lat­ing for any­one who winds up in that spot.

“It was hum­bling,” Byrd said. “To go back to the Web was dif­fi­cult. There’s so many re­minders ev­ery week that you’re not where you want to be. But I tried to em­brace it . ... I didn’t want to be the grumpy old tour player talk­ing about how great it is on tour and how bad it is out here and how good I used to be. I made friends out there. I en­joyed it. I fo­cused on en­joy­ing the com­pe­ti­tion.”

Byrd event turned down a half-dozen ex­emp­tions to PGA Tour events last year. He fin­ished 48th on the money list (the top 25 get PGA cards) and he didn’t earn one of the 25 ad­di­tional spots from the four-tour­na­ment se­ries at the end of the year.

Even so, he was up­beat about his progress. Be­sides, be­ing around a bunch of kids in their early 20s has helped. “You’ve got to play good to beat these guys,” he said. “But what I’ve learned from be­ing out here so long is that I’ve got what it takes. Guys who have won five times on the PGA Tour, it’s a short list.

I’ve got some­thing in there that’s good enough. And I still think it’s good enough.”

OH, BROTHER: Jor­dan Spi­eth is headed to Rhode Is­land this week to watch Brown host Maine in col­lege bas­ket­ball. His younger brother, Steven, is a se­nior who is av­er­ag­ing 15.4 points a game for the Bears.

The for­mer Masters and US Open cham­pion is do­ing every­thing he can to pre­pare, be­cause this ap­par­ently in­volves more than sit­ting in the stands to cheer on lit­tle brother. Spi­eth sug­gested that there might be a lit­tle con­test Thurs­day morn­ing be­fore the Brown game.

“I’m not sure. He kind of set up some­thing,” Spi­eth said. “We might be play­ing horse, and it might be videoed. At the mo­ment, I’m start­ing my grind in the gym, shoot­ing a thou­sand shots a day so I don’t em­bar­rass my­self.”

Asked if he knew where the pub­lic might see this video, Spi­eth said: “Even if I knew, I cer­tainly would not be an­nounc­ing that. I think it’s through ESPN. I’m not sure.” How­ever it turns out, per­haps Steven might con­sider com­ing out to Au­gusta Na­tional early for a putting con­test.

POWER MEM­O­RIES

Jim Furyk is used to play­ers smash­ing it by him off the tee. One of the shorter hit­ters in golf, he still has man­aged to win 17 times, in­clud­ing the US Open. But there was some­thing about the 2009 Cadil­lac Cham­pi­onship at Do­ral that he still re­mem­bers clearly.

“I was paired with Adam Scott and Rory (McIl­roy) the first two days, and I was hit­ting it real short,” Furyk said. “I’m al­ready short any­way, but I had a driver that I was hit­ting straight but real short. We’re play­ing Do­ral. You know, Adam and Rory are hit­ting it 30 (yards) by me all day and I’m like, ‘I need to get a new driver.’”

Jonathan Byrd

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