By now, Jonathan Byrd’s shot in the dark – a brilliant 6-iron that found the bottom of the cup on the fourth playoff hole – is legendary stuff. But if you think that by hitting the jackpot in Las Vegas he is going to go home, count his money, and call it a season, think again.
He’s going to Disney.
“I’m ready for the season to be over,” Byrd conceded, before confirming that it’s not. He’ll tee it up Nov. 11 in the Children’s Miracle Network Classic at DisneyWorld.
“I asked my wife (Amanda) after I won. I said, ‘So, what do you think? Do you want to just shut it down?’ And she said, ‘Are you kidding me? We’ve already told the kids we’re going to Disney World. Are you going to be the one who tells them we’re not?’ ”
He may be able to ace a par 3 of more than 200 yards to win $774,000, but Byrd isn’t about to tell young children that they’re not going to Disney, so there it is. He’s added a 27th tournament to his 2010 schedule, for all the right reasons.
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Daly’s uncertain path: As for those who don’t add tournaments for all the wrong reasons, let us introduce John Daly.
When he opened the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals Open for Children with a 66, it was hard to stifle the yawns, knowing what was to come.
On two occasions earlier in the year when Daly opened with a 66, he went on to finish 66th at the Colonial and T-48 at the British Open. So hardly was it a shock when he drifted to 73rd in Vegas, which beat just one other of those who went all 72 holes.
Bizarre, but Daly would rank 125th on the money list right now – if you counted every penny he has earned on the PGA Tour since 2006, that is.
Sad, is it not, that one of the game’s most gifted talents has earned just $724,054 in 88 PGA Tour tournaments dating to 2006? That was the most recent season in which he was fully exempt on the PGA Tour, by the way.
Naturally, you’d think he would be prime Q-School material, but no. That would demand a commitment and a quest to work hard, foreign concepts to Daly.
For 2011, he will play out of the past-champion category and sit and hope the sponsor exemptions come. But because he’s less and less of a draw every day, those invites will be fewer than ever next year, so one can only wonder where the road will take him.
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Lean year: Matt Kuchar will top the PGA Tour money list at $4,910,477. OK, so it’s plenty enough to keep a smile on his face (truthfully, if Kuchar made $1.84 this year, he’d be smiling), but you have to go back to 1998 when the top earner has made so little.
That year, David Duval was No. 1 with $2,591,031. Since then, however, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh have taken turns setting new standards. Woods has won eight money titles since, his thinnest year being 2001 with $5,687,777, his biggest stash being $10,867,052 in 2007. Singh has captured three money titles, ranging from $6,601,094 (2008) to $10,905,166 (2004), which still ranks as the best.
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Fall finishing: With Kuchar and those near him on the money list having called it a season, the only movement to watch comes from those sitting far down. But that’s not to say there aren’t a few intriguing notes.
For instance, there are seven players who made the playoffs – that is, they were top 125 in FedEx Cup points after the Wyndham Championship – but currently sit outside the top 125 in money. Briny Baird (126th), Bob Estes (128), Scott Piercy (132), Nathan Green (138), Joe Ogilvie (139), John Merrick (141) and Michael Letzig (149) made post-season play but still have work to do.
On the flip side, four players who didn’t make the playoffs have succeeded through the Fall Series to at least creep inside the top 125: Rocco Mediate (76th), Chris Stroud (119), Joe Durant (120) and Michael Allen (124).
There’s one tournament remaining for a healthy list of notable names to make a push inside the top 125, though most of them thankfully don’t subscribe to the Daly philosophy. They concede that Q-School is part of the landscape.
“Fact is, only 125 guys can keep their jobs,” Brett Quigley said. “And the fact is, I haven’t played well enough to be one of those 125.”
That means Quigley, who sits 155th, is prepared to go to Q-School should he not cash in big time at the season finale, the Children’s Miracle Network Classic on Nov. 11-14.
Will MacKenzie also is signed up, though his decision was made for him by his wife, Alli. She readily said it was she who sent in the entry form and check, though MacKenzie quickly said he wouldn’t have forgotten to do so.
“What about 2008?” she asked.
MacKenzie nodded. “Right. I forgot that year, but that’s because I knew you’d do it.”
Though he’s won twice since making it onto the PGA Tour in 2005, MacKenzie certainly straddles the bubble each season. He has ranked 100th, 85th, 114th, and 126th in his four years. In ’08 he was hopelessly out of the top 125 (which is why Alli sent in the Q-School form) when he won the Viking Classic in September. That brought full exempt status through 2010, but at 148th he’s $165,824 behind No. 125, Troy Matteson.
Yes, the pressure’s on, but MacKenzie already has his strategy for 2011 mapped out.
“No matter what, next year I’m going to start off stronger. I’m getting tired of coming down to the wire and having to play real well,” MacKenzie said.
“If I have to go to Q-School, I’ll go to Q-School.”
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Ryder ruminations: Hunter Mahan, back in action in Las Vegas for the first time since the emotional Ryder Cup, said he has received a lot of support, “even from people I’ve never met,” he said.
It made Mahan feel good, not that he ever doubted himself in the aftermath of that gut-wrenching loss in the 12th and final singles match. It’s part of Ryder Cup folklore now that Mahan broke down and choked back tears, but guess what? Mahan said he was so passionate about his collegiate career at Oklahoma State that he cried after the last NCAA Championships in which he played.
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‘Unbeatable’?: Heard Charlie Rymer on Golf Channel suggest Martin Kaymer “looks unbeatable.”
Perhaps Rymer didn’t stick with the Ryder Cup through the singles matches. Mr. Unbeatable got his clock rung by Dustin Johnson. Relentless 6-and-4 haymaker is what it was, after which Kaymer had to again be saying a little prayer for that ludicrous bunker situation on the 18th hole at Whistling Straits.
Had all things been equal – in other words, bunkers were where they should be and fans were where they should be – Johnson would have been in that PGA Championship playoff and here’s a suggestion that we would have had a different set of hands hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy.