Oct. 27, 2002
Former Clemson All-American Jonathan Byrd won the PGA Tour’s Buick Challenge on Sunday with a final round 63 for a 72-hole score of 261. It was the first win on the tour for the PGA Tour Rookie and the first win by a former Clemson golfer on the PGA Tour in six years.
Byrd’s 27-under-par figure for the 72 holes is ranked in a tie for third best in the history of the PGA Tour in terms of most strokes under par in a 72-hole event. The record is 28-under held by John Houston at the 1998 United Airlines Hawaiian Open and by Mark Calcavecchia at the 2001 Phoenix Open.
Byrd’s 261 score tied for the lowest score on the PGA Tour this year. Loren Roberts won with a 261 score at the Texas Open earlier this year, but that tournament was played on a par 70 course. The previous best score vs. par this year was 25-under by Bob Burns at the Disney Classic earlier this month.
Byrd now has three consecutive top 20 finishes and has moved into the top 50 on the PGA Tour money list. He finished 19th at the Michelob at Kingsmill, VA and was 13th at Las Vegas in his two most recent events. He was 23-under-par in finishing 13th at the 90-hole Las Vegas event, meaning he is now 50-under-par for his last nine rounds on Tour. He won $666,000 on Sunday, the biggest check ever by a former Clemson golfer for one event. He has now won $1,377,563 for the year, most ever by a former Clemson golfer. The victory guarantees Byrd exempt status on the PGA Tour for the next two years.
Byrd shot a six-under-par 30 on the back nine of the Callaway Gardens Resort Course in Pine Mountain, GA. His charge in the final nine holes included a five-hole stretch in which he was seven-under par. The 2000 Clemson graduate, who was an academic All-American as well as on-course All-American had an eagle on the par five 11th hole, followed by a birdie on 12, 13 and 14, then another eagle on the par five 15th.
Byrd entered the tournament ranked first on the PGA Tour in eagles with 15 this season. His eagles on Sunday were his only eagles of the weekend and he now remains the PGA Tour leader with 17.
The native of Columbia, SC who was the first Clemson golfer in history to be named first-team All-ACC four consecutive years, had a five-shot lead over David Toms with three holes left. But, he bogeyed the par three 16th, while Toms recorded an eagle at the 15th. Byrd pared the last two holes, but Toms birdied the 17th. Playing in the last group, Toms needed a birdie on the 18th hole. Instead he made a par and Byrd had a one-stroke victory.
Byrd had rounds of 67-66-65-63 in recording his 261 score. He had 27 birdies, 39 pars, two eagles and four bogeys for the weekend. He averaged just 23.8 putts per round and had an average driving distance of 280.4 in recording the victory. Toms was second at 262, followed by Phil Mickelson at 265. Mickelson also shot a 63 on Sunday to finish third. Craig Parry and John Huston finished tied for fourth at 266.
Byrd is the third former Clemson golfer to win a PGA Tour event. Dillard Pruitt, now a rules official on the PGA Tour, won the 1991 Chattanooga Classic. Clarence Rose, Clemson’s first All-American in golf in 1980, won the 1996 Sprint International.
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