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January 12, 2011

Jonathan Byrd's Playoff Victory Appropriate Ending To Exciting Wweek At Kapalua

Kapalua Resort, Maui, Hawaii (January 12, 2011)

– Jonathan Byrd’s dramatic sudden death playoff victory over Robert Garrigus in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions capped off a highly successful week at The Plantation Course and set the stage for an even more exciting tournament when the winners-only competition returns in 2012.

The PGA TOUR traditionally starts its season at The Plantation Course, and once again the challenging Ben Crenshaw-Bill Coore layout proved to be the perfect place for the 2010 TOUR winners to begin their chase for the FedExCup title.
“It’s just the best place in the world,” former Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner and tournament record holder Ernie Els said. “You come here, first week of the year, (it’s) just an incredible place. I don’t think there is a better tournament, really.”
“I think it’s one of the best tournaments we play all year,” added Dustin Johnson, who like Els won twice in 2010 to qualify for a trip to Kapalua. “We are in Maui for a week to start the season. It’s a small field and you have to win a golf tournament to get into it. You’ve done pretty well if you’re here.”
Byrd, 32, of St. Simons Island, Ga., was the first man to earn his way back for the 2012 edition when he two-putted from 53 feet on the par-4 first hole, the second playoff hole, and then watched as Garrigus missed a three-foot par putt. Byrd and Garrigus each shot 6-under 67 in the final round to finish regulation 72 holes in 24 under 268.
Byrd earned $1.12 million and a stunning silver trophy with his fifth PGA TOUR title.
“I'm pretty overwhelmed, probably, is the best word to describe it,” Byrd said. “I can't sit here and not think about where I was towards the end of the season last year fighting for my card, and was content with that, you know, and just kind of fighting to play well and finding joy in that process, too. Then I win my last tournament of the year, and win it in that fashion, and then get to come to Maui to play in this event, and then feel good coming into here, and work hard in the off-season and get back in contention and find myself in another playoff and win another tournament. I'm just thankful, I'm overwhelmed, I'm grateful; all of it above.”
Thirty-four players, including the top four money winners from 2010, were in attendance at The Plantation Course, and they effused appreciation for having the opportunity to compete in the elite tournament that dates back to 1953 and has been played at Kapalua since 1999.
A sampling of their comments:
Ryan Palmer: “Coming here is just perfect. It’s a great challenge. You definitely have to do everything pretty well, but it’s a wonderful place to start the year both in terms of the golf and the other things you can do, even if you want to do nothing. I mean, this is place is so cool and fun.”
Bill Lunde: “Obviously, this is a place where everyone would want to start the year, a great golf course, the warm weather, and the hospitality has been great. You’re treated so well here. It’s unbelievable.”
Ernie Els: “I just feel it's a fun week, great week. Always enjoyed bringing my family here. So very nice to start here.”
Geoff Ogilvy: “Yeah, obviously it's been a place that's been good to me the last few years. Being here before winning last two years, it's a place you always want to come. It's one of the nicest venues all year, if not the nicest probably. It's a nice little treat, reward for winning a tournament the year before and a little bit of a head start on everyone else. All of the above: Nice hotel, nice place; Hawai'i. Everything is good about this tournament, yeah.”
Arjun Atwal: “It’s beautiful, I mean, seriously. Just being picked up from the airport and driving to our hotel, it is such a beautiful place. I am glad I brought my wife and my kids – this is just another vacation, an extended vacation for them even though I have to go to work.”
Francesco Molinari: “It’s a great bonus to be here. I was very happy when I knew I got in here for the win in China. It’s great fun. The weather, it’s perfect. The course, it’s not too stressful, so I think it’s a good golf course for the first week of the year. I went whale watching and I went around with the car to see some of the views, and it’s obviously a great place. It’s a perfect place to start the year.”
While the players competed for a purse of $5.6 million and the prestigious trophy, there was plenty going on for fans and others involved with the tournament. 
With free entry and the introduction of the Family Fun Day, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions provided ample opportunities for patrons to enjoy the championship and the game as both a spectator and a participant.
Special entertainment events throughout the week included the FedExCup Kick-Off’s Long Drive Challenge, won by former RE/MAX World Long Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski of Canada. Sadlowski’s 407-yard drive on the par-5 18th bested drives struck by Garrigus, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson in a competition televised by Golf Channel.
Anthony Kim won the Pro/Celebrity Challenge, which featured participation by PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. And Geoff Ogilvy’s Maui 1 Team was the winner of the Pro/Celebrity Junior Shootout during Family Fun Day. Both events, as well as the regular pro-ams, raised significant charity dollars. Trick-shot artist Dan Boever also conducted two popular exhibitions.
“The inaugural Hyundai Tournament of Champions couldn’t have gone better,” said tournament director Nancy Cross. “Working with our new title sponsor, Hyundai, we achieved an exciting presentation of signage and vehicles throughout The Plantation Course, nearly doubled our attendance with fan enhancement events and activities, and had an awesome final round with perfect weather and fierce competition right up to the end. The two-hole playoff with Byrd and Garrigus, who played some truly amazing golf, was icing on the cake.”
About the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
The first official tournament of the PGA TOUR season, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions features an elite field of tournament winners from the previous season. Tentative dates for the 2012 edition are Jan. 2-8.
The Hyundai Tournament of Champions (formerly the SBS Championship and the Mercedes-Benz Championship) has been held at Kapalua Resort since 1999. Charitable funds raised via the event have totaled nearly $3.5 million and benefited more than 60 local Maui charities.  
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For Immediate Release Contact: Karin Sagar Hyundai Tournament of Champions 808-669-0244

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