Byrd gains Open start with John Deere win
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2007 John Deere Classic | Round Four | 16 Jul 2007
A strong finish by Jonathan Byrd at the John Deere Classic has given the 29-year-old form Georgia his third USPGA Tour title and denied both Tim Clark and Nathan Green of their first.
Tim Clark contributed to Byrd’s success when he let slip a four shot lead over Byrd with just five holes to play, bogeys at his 15th and 17th holes opening the door for Byrd who obliged with birdies at three of his last four holes.
Having missed the cut in his last four events this was hardly an expected result from Byrd but not only has he turned that form around he will, as a result of his win, now fly across the Atlantic to be at Carnoustie ready to tee it up in four days time.
“You know, I was supposed to go to the qualifier for the British, missed the cut in Hartford, and pretty much my caddie talked me out of it,” said Byrd after his win. “He said, hey, why don’t we just go to Congressional and play John Deere, Milwaukee, play those weeks, build some confidence. We’ve got to get some confidence going before the Playoffs start and see if we can get things going back in the right direction. I listened, and I said, you know, I think that’s the right plan.”
“I pretty much threw the British out of my mind and said, I’m going to go play these three weeks. I went out and played last week, and you know, played terrible from a score standpoint. I went in and I really worked hard this week. I was out on the range at 7:00 on Monday morning, which is – I’m never out there on a Monday morning that early. I was hitting wedges and working on my swing. I had a good practice Monday and felt pretty good all week.”
For Clark it was another near miss in his quest to win a PGA Tour event for the first time. He has been runner up on one or two occasions most notably at the Masters last year and a win would have been consolation for missing the Scottish Open which he claimed two years ago. Clark did not travel to Scotland as he was not exempt for the Open Championship the following week which a victory here would have put right.
“I would have still gone. I definitely would have gone,” said Clark. “Certainly if I’m playing as well as I am now, I feel like I would have had a good chance to have a good week and be right up there. But as it turns out, I don’t get to go.”
Overnight leader, Nathan Green, picked up an early birdie at the second but for much of the day he struggled with his swing.
“I think the thing you learn is you’ve got to play good, you’ve got to put four good rounds on the boards, especially here,” said Green later. “You can’t shoot even par and expect to win. I’ve just got to get a little bit more trust with my game and a bit more self-belief and maybe I’ll be able to capitalize next time in that position.”
Troy Matteson shared third with Green while Carl Pettersen did his Open Championship chances little harm when finishing alone in 5th place. Pettersen finished 8th at Hoylake last year.
Michael Sim was the next best of the Australians after Green when 11th his best finish of his brief USPGA Tour career. Stephen Leaney was 15th, Steve Allan 32nd, Gavin Coles 52nd, Paul Gow and Phil Tataurangi 57th, Bronson Lacassie impressive in his PGA Tour debut 62nd and Grant Waite 70th.
The PGA Tour heads now to the Open Championship while for those not eligible they have the option of playing the US Bank Championship in Milwaukee.