Nov. 4, 2002
Former Clemson All-American Jonathan Byrd finished fifth at the rain-shortened Southern Farm Bureau Classic in Mississippi on Monday and won $85,150. The finish, his third top five finish of the year, allowed Byrd to jump from 41st to 39th on the final PGA Tour money list.
Reaching the top 40 was a preseason goal for the first Clemson golfer in history to earn first-team All-ACC honors four straight years. The top 40 qualify for an invitation to the Masters Tournament in Augusta, GA next April.
“Winning a tournament and qualifying for the Masters were my biggest goals when I started this season,” said Byrd, who was named to the ACC’s 50-Year Anniversary Team this past fall. “It is close to my home and I have always dreamed of playing in that tournament.”
Byrd made quite a finish to his rookie season and is a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year honors on Tour. He finished in the top 20 in each of his last four events of the year, including his first PGA Tour victory at the Buick Challenge in Georgia October 24-27. He shot a 27-under-par score in capturing that victory. He ranked eighth on Tour in the Fall Finish, a separate competition over the final 10 tournaments of the year.
That victory at the Buick Challenge jumped him from 94th to 41st on the money list heading into the final tournament. He responded with rounds of 66, 68 and 71 to rank fifth after three rounds. Rains then postponed the event from Sunday to Monday. But, Monday, officials determined the course was unplayable and the event was shortened to 54 holes. Byrd knew where he stood after three rounds in relation to the money list, so he could not have been disappointed when the final round was rained out.
Byrd played his last 12 rounds of the year in 61-under-par, an average of 66 per round. It allowed him to drop his stroke average to 70.93 for the year. He finished among the PGA Tour leaders in many statistics, including a number-one ranking in total eagles with 17. He was also in the top 20 in tour stats in driving distance (14th, 290.5), putting average (14th, 1.733 per hole), birdie average (13th, 4.01 per round), and putts per round (15th, 28.39 per round). His final round scoring average of 69.93 was 22nd best on tour.
For the year, Byrd played in 32 events and made 15 cuts. He won $1,462,713, the most money earned in history by a former Clemson golfer on the PGA Tour. His 39th place finish is also the best in history by a former Clemson player, breaking the previous mark of 41st on the money list by Clarence Rose in 1996.
Byrd will be the eighth different golfer with ties to Clemson to play in the Masters. The first was Parker Moore in 1977. Chris Patton (1990) and current Clemson senior D.J. Trahan (2001) are the only Clemson golfers who were still students at Clemson when they played in the Masters.
Danny Ellis (1994) and Michael Hoey (2002) played in the event as amateurs after their career at Clemson had concluded. Dillard Pruitt and Clarence Rose are the only two former Tigers to play in the event as professionals. Pruitt finished 13th at the 1992 tournament, the highest finish ever by a golfer with ties to Clemson. He also played in the 1993 Masters, the only golfer with Clemson ties to play in more than one Masters.
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