PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Jonathan Byrd knows how to make the most of a good break.
Back in the final round of the Buick Challenge in 2002, he hit a wild drive into the gallery. When he got over there, he found his fiancée laid out on the ground. She was in pain and being tended to by other spectators. His errant drive drilled her square in the back.
But Amanda left him a good lie. Inadvertently, she saved his ball from screaming deep into trouble in the tree line. She was walking and talking with friends when she got drilled from behind.
Byrd turned that break into a birdie and went on to win his first PGA Tour title.
Oh, and he went on to marry Amanda.
Byrd is looking to turn a good break into something special again Sunday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
With a 4-under-par 68 Saturday at Spyglass Hill, Byrd moved into a tie for seventh, six shots off the lead going into the final round. He wouldn’t be in that spot if he had not forgotten his passport Monday on the way to the Web.com Tour’s Panama Championship. After making the hour’s drive from his St. Simons Island home in Georgia to the Jacksonville Airport, he found himself punching his destination into a United Airlines kiosk when the computer asked him for his passport.
“That’s when I realized I didn’t have it,” Byrd said. “I was upset. I was kicking myself and cussing myself out, pretty much.”
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Byrd was eighth on the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am alternate list when he drove to Jacksonville. After he got back home to St. Simons Island and booked a later flight to Panama, he started getting calls from Tour that he was quickly moving up the Pebble Beach alternate list. Before he knew it, he was in the field.
“So I viewed this week as an opportunity, a blessing in disguise,” Byrd said. “It kind of helps the mindset. You feel like you’ve been given an extra week.”
Byrd is playing out of the Tour’s past champions category. That has meant a lot of uncertainty, a lot of weekends checking the next week’s alternate lists.
The Pebble Beach event went unusually deep down the alternate list, with a rash of WDs this week and then alternates who passed, taking the tour even deeper down the alternate list. Fifteen players withdrew before the event started.