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Jonathan Byrd Rallies To Win The John Deere

Jonathan Byrd was able to capitalize on his strong play during the back nine, capturing his first PGA Tour title in three years at the John Deere Classic yesterday.

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Jonathan Byrd shot a 5-under-par 66 which included three birdies in his last five holes to defeat Tim Clark by one stroke Sunday at the TPC Deere Run.

Byrd, who rallied from four shots down with five to play, qualified to play in next week’s British Open at Carnoustie and won $738,000 in prize money with the win.

This was Byrd’s third career win on the PGA TOUR, with his other two wins coming at the 2002 Buick Challenge and the 2004 B.C. Open, respectively. Byrd finished the tournament at 18-under 266, Clark finished one stroke back at 17-under 265 with a 68 in his final round. Third-round leader Nathan Green struggled to find birdies in the final round en route to a 71 and a tie for third place with Troy Matteson who shot 66 on Sunday.

However, throughout most of the final round, Tim Clark looked to have a good chance of winning the title as he birdied four of his first nine holes. His lead grew to as much as three strokes. However, Clark, who was visibly struggling with a neck injury began to struggle on the final few holes. Playing a group ahead, Byrd was able to take advantage, making a great run on the back nine with birdies on 14, 16, and 17 and moving into a tie with Clark. On the 17th hole, Clark’s layup found a fairway bunker some 70 yards from the green. After missing the green in regulation, Clark missed a 6-foot par putt and fell one shot back. With Jonathan Byrd watching from the club house, Clark was unable to sink a long putt for birdie on the 18th hole, giving Byrd his first title in three years. Clark said, "17 had a go at the green, and that’s really the only shot of the day that I mis-hit that. I fully expected to be able to get it up to the greenside bunker, and instead it plugged in the lip of the bunker 20 yards short of the green, and from there I just had no play."

The past few years have been a bit of a struggle for Byrd, whose last win on the PGA Tour came in 2004. However, he was able to draw on his experience down the closing stretch, "Any amount of boost in confidence you can give yourself, you might as well give it to yourself. I said that to myself and I kept saying that to myself all day, and just kept telling myself to give myself some opportunities, and it worked out." Byrd, who says he will head over to Carnoustie for this week’s British Open, had missed four straight cuts on the TOUR and didn’t even bother to bring his passport to the John Deere, "I haven’t been playing well, and, I don’t know, maybe I thought that would be a jinx or something," he said when asked about not bringing his passport.

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Five Things We Learned: Saturday at the PGA Championship

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Moving Day is a term applied to round three of a four-round tournament. It suggests that competitors need a solid or spectacular round on Saturday, in order to position themselves for potential Sunday victory. Among the favorites in contention after 36 holes, only Scottie Scheffler fell out of contention. The Texan suffered a par-double-bogey-bogey start, and could not recover. Three more bogeys damaged his score even more. Scheffler begins day four at seven-under par, eight shots behind the leaders.

As for those leaders, it’s a familiar pair, and we’ll get to them. We saw Justin Rose return to major-championship contention for the first time in a while. He’ll need 63 on Sunday to matter, but it’s still good to see the two-time major winner (Olympic Gold counts!) in the mix. Bryson DeChambeau carried the LIV flag into the day-four conversation, and with a low 60s score, he’ll have a chance at a second major title. Even the home-state feloow, Justin Thomas, found a way to matter. He’s on the outside, looking in, but a 60 is not inconceivable, and 11-under would certainly win the day, if not the week.

1. Xander holds the lead

There’s a burden that comes with posting a score of 62. Media, fans, and even the player hope and even expect to see it again. Xander Schauffele wasn’t on track to repeat that number of Saturday, but he stood in the middle of the 15th fairway and thought about how low he could go. Three-under par on the day, coming off birdie at 14, with a pitch to the green, and he went for the flag and missed.

Schauffele made an unanticipated mistake and it cost him two shots. His most immediate competitor was in his group and made birdie, retrieving three shots in one hole. That’s the sort of moment that goes down in history as a gut check. Schauffele’s gut responded. He leveled the wings with par at 16, then closed with birdies at 17 and 18, to returne to 15-under par. The X Man will tee off again in the final pairing, and take a run at his first major title. The fifteenth hole might loom large again in the outcome; hopefully, a lesson has been learned!

2. Morikawa can taste another PGA

For two years, Collin Morikawa was that guy. He won this tournament in 2020, then collected the Open Championship jug at Sandwich in 2021. Win two majors, and everyone heads down the career grand slam discussion. Three years on, Morikawa has the same number of majors on his dossier, and two more professional wins to show. He’s probably antsy for another major.

The California native stumbled early on Saturday. He made bogey at the two-shot second hole, then dug in with everything he had. A birdie at three balanced the card, and four more came his way. None was bigger than the three that he made at the 15th, as the leader was making double bogey in his group! Morikawa took a one-shot lead there, then closed with birdie at the last to reach Sunday morning tied at the top with Xander Schauffele.

Sunday will fill with drama, but it won’t involve just that grouping. When Morikawa tees off at 2:35 Louisville time, a move will have been made. Someone close by (one at -14, three at -13, two at -12) will be a few under par, and the thermometer will have risen. Our guess, simply, is that Morikawa will need 66 to win outright on Sunday. 20-under par should get it done, and to go down as one of the greats, he’ll need to be great.

3. Shane shares PGA record

Shane Lowry goes down as one of the most popular major champions of this era. His Open Championship win at Royal Portrush in 2019 kicked off a massive celebration of Irish pride and delight. Lowry hasn’t added to that major total of one, but the cask-chested, smile-and-a-beard doesn’t need to. He’s the sort who can take a two-man win, as he had this season with Rory McIlroy in New Orleans, and elevate its worth. He’s the sort who anchors an international side, as he does every two years in the Ryder Cup.

This week in Kentucky is different. Lowry has the chance to keep the hot hand and claim a second major title. These opportunities don’t come around that often. Lowry was fire on Saturday. He posted the first, sub-thirty nine of the tournament on the outward half. HIs six birdies and three pars gave him 29, and he looked for all the world to be the man to chase. The inward half wasn’t quite as volcanic, but the card was clean, and he came home in 33. His score matched Schauffele’s opening round, for the all-time low, 18-hole score, in PGA Championship history.

What’s to do? Make putts early. Find a way to get back in the zone and ride that spaceship to the final green. Lowry most likely needs to finish Saturday in 65 strokes or fewer, and posting 127 on a major championship weekend is unheard of. That’s why they play, though, isn’t it? Why not Shane, why not today?

4. Theegala lost, then found

As far as I was concerned, Sahith Theegala was yesterday’s news. Consecutive bogeys at five and six, supported by zero birdies through eight holes, destined him for the also-ran section of the leader board. I was frightfully incorrect.

Theegala found some inspiration at the ninth tee. Maybe it was a kick in the arse by his caddie, or by him, but a flame ignited. Theegals made the first of six birdies at the outward home hole, and posted 31 coming home. Birdie at the final hole ensured that he would tee off in Sunday’s penultimate group, with Shane Lowry.

It is often written that all should be wary of the wounded, as they fight for survival. Theegala dislocated a rib two weeks ago, at Quail Hollow. This week, he has been under the weather with some bug. With his mind focused on health, rather than score, he has done quite well. If he stays that course, one last round, he might have to do a heavy lift on Sunday, with the Wannamaker trophy in his hands.

5. The Prediction!

Despite all the kind words I’ve written about the aforementioned four gentlemen, none of them will exit Louisville with the happiest of visages. The winner, however, will not let us down in the smiles department. Viktor Hovland teed off in the final pairing last year, at Oak Hill, and had a front-row seat in the Koepka Koaster, as Brooks Koepka showed the Norwegian how to win a major championship. Rest assured that Hovland took copious notes. His frustration at a Masters missed cut in April has been channeled into his performance this week.

What will go down? Hovland will have at least one holed shot from off the green on Sunday’s outward nine. He’ll find a groove and the putter will warm up quickly. Hovland will sign for the third 62 of the week, but will have to wait as each of the final four golfers has a chance to tie at the final hole. One will, and they will head to a play-off, where Hovland will emerge in overtime.

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Five Things We Learned: Friday at the PGA Championship

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Early on Friday morning, a vendor working for the PGA Championship was struck and killed by a tournament shuttle bus. Nearly at the same time, as he arrived for his second round of tournament play, Scottie Scheffler attempted to detour around the scene, and was arrested, booked, then released. Somehow, Scheffler returned to Valhalla and played his second round of the tournament. Despite the jokes and memes of some in the golf industry, the tournament took a back seat to life and humanity on Friday morning. Our prayers are with the family and friends of the vendor, as well as with all involved.

Day two of Valhalla’s fourth PGA Championship did not see a repeat of the record-setting 62 posted by first-day leader, Xander Schauffele. The low card of 65 was returned by five golfers, when play was suspended by darkness. Five golfers still on the course, were on the positive side of the expected cut line of one-under par, while 12 more either had work to do, or knew that their week had come to an end.

The best 70 golfers and ties would advance to the weekend. 64 golfers figured at minus-two on Friday evening, with another 15 at one-under par. The most likely scenario saw those at even par, headed home. The formula was simple: finish under par and stick around. Play resumed at 7:15 on Saturday, to sort through the last six threesomes. Before the night turned over, we learned five important things to set us up for a weekend of excitement and excellence. It’s a pleasure to share them with you.

1. The 65s

On Thursday, three golfers etched 65 into the final box on their card of play. On Friday, nearly twice that number finished at six-under par for the round. Collin Morikawa moved from top-five into a spot in the final pairing. The 2020 PGA Champion at Harding Park teed off at the tenth hole, and turned in minus-two. He then ran off five consecutive birdies from the fourth tee to the eighth green, before finding trouble at the ninth, his last hole of the day. Bogey at nine dropped him from -12 to -11.

The same score moved Bryson DeChambeau from 11th spot to T4. Joining the pair with 65s on day two were Matt Wallace and Hideki Matsuyama (each with 70-65 for T11) and Lee Hodges (71-65 for T16.) Morikawa, Matsuyama, and DeChambeau have major championship wins in their names, while Wallace has been on the when to break through list his entire career. Hodges epitomizes the term journeyman, bu the PGA Championship is the one major of them all when lesser-known challegers find a way to break through.

2. The Corebridge team of PGA Professionals

Last year’s Cinderella story, Michael Block, did not repeat his Oak Hill success. Block missed the cut by a fair amount. Of the other 19, however, two were poised to conclude play and reach the weekend’s play. Braden Shattuck had finished at one-under par, while Jeremy Wells (-2) and Ben Polland (-1) were inside the glory line, each with two holes to play.

With three holes to play on the front nine, Kyle Mendoza sits at even par. His task is simple: play the final triumvirate in one-under par or better. If Mendoza can pull off that feat, and if the aforementioned triumvirate can hold steady, the club professional segment of the tournament will have four representatives in play over the weekend.

3. Scottie Scheffler

In his post-round interview, Scheffler admitted that his second round, following the surreal nature of the early morning’s events, was made possible by the support he received from patrons and fellow competitors. The new father expressed his great sadness for the loss of life, and also praised some of the first responders that had accompanied him in the journey from course to jail cell. Yes, jail cell. Scheffler spoke of beginning his warm-up routine with jail-house stretches.

Once he returned to Valhalla, Scheffler found a way to a two-under, opening nine holes. He began birdie-bogey-birdie on holes ten through twelve, then eased into a stretch of pars, before making birdie at the par-five 18th. His second nine holes featured three birdies and six pars, allowing him to improve by one shot from day one. Scheffler found himself in a fourth-place tie with Thomas Detry, and third-round tee time in the third-last pairing. Scheffler’s poise illustrated grace under pressure, which is the only way that he could have reached this status through 36 holes.

4. Sahith!

It’s a little bit funny that the fellow who followed 65 with 67, is nowhere to be found on the video highlight reels. He’s not alone in that respect, as Thomas Detry (T4) was also ignored by the cameras. Theegala has won on tour, and has the game to win again. The Californian turned in four-under par on Friday, then made an excruciating bogey at the par-five tenth. He redeemed himself two holes later, with birdie at the twelfth hole.

Theegala is an unproven commodity in major events. He has one top-ten finish: the 2023 Masters saw him finish 9th. He did tie for 40th in 2023, in this event, at Oak Hill. Is he likely to be around on Sunday? Yes. Will he be inside the top ten? If he is, he has a shot on Sunday. If Saturday is not a 67 or better, Theegala will not figure in the outcome of the 2024 championship.

5. X Man!!

After the fireworks of day one, Xander Schauffele preserved his lead at the 2024 PGA Championship. He holds a one-shot advantage and will tee off in the final pairing on Saturday, with Collin Morikawa. Eleven holes into round two, Schauffele made his first bogey of the week. The stumble stalled his momentum, as he had played the first ten holes in minus-four. Will the run of seven pars at the end signal a negative turn in the tide of play for Schauffele? We’ll find out on day three. One thing is for sure: minus twelve will not win this tournament. Schauffele will likely need to reach twenty under par over the next two days, to win his first major title.

 

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Scottie Scheffler arrested, charged, and released after traffic incident at Valhalla

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As first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, Scottie Scheffler has been detained by police on the way to Valhalla Golf Club this morning due to a traffic misunderstanding.

“Breaking News: World No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler has been detained by police in handcuffs after a misunderstanding with traffic flow led to his attempt to drive past a police officer into Valhalla Golf Club. The police officer attempted to attach himself to Scheffler’s car, and Scheffler then stopped his vehicle at the entrance to Valhalla. The police officer then began to scream at Scheffler to get out of the car.

“When Scheffler exited the vehicle, the officer shoved Scheffler against the car and immediately placed him in handcuffs. He is now being detained in the back of a police car.”

Darlington also posted a video of the dramatic moment which you can view below:

There was an unrelated accident at around 5am, which is what may have caused some of the misunderstanding of which traffic was moving.

Speaking on ESPN, Darlington broke down exactly what he witnessed in full detail:

“Entering Valhalla Golf Club this morning, we witness a car pull around us that was Scottie Scheffler. Scottie Scheffler has been detained by police officers, placed in the back of a police vehicle in handcuffs after he tried to pull around what he believed to be security, ended up being police officers.

“They told him to stop, when he didn’t stop, the police officer attached himself to the vehicle, and Scheffler then travelled another 10 yards before stopping the car.”

“The police officer then grabbed at his arm, attempting to pull him out of the car, before Scheffler eventually opened the door, at which point the police officer pulled Scheffler out of the car, pushed him up against the car and immediately placed him in handcuffs. Scheffler was then walked over to the police car, placed in the back in handcuffs.

“Very stunned about what was happening, he looked towards me as he was in those handcuffs and said ‘please help me’. He very clearly didn’t know what was happening in the situation.”

“It moved very quickly, very rapidly, very aggressively. He was detained in that police vehicle for approximately 20 minutes. The police officers at that point did not understand that Scottie Scheffler was a golfer in the tournament, nor of course that he is the number one player in the world.”

Due to the accident, play has been delayed this morning. Scheffler’s current tee time for the second round of the PGA Championship is 10:08 a.m.

Scheffler’s mugshot following the incident:

*Update*

Scheffler has been charged with 2nd Degree assault of a police officer, criminal mischief 3rd degree, reckless driving and disregarding signals from an officer directing traffic.

*Update*

According to ESPN+, Scottie Scheffler has been released and is now on his way to the golf course.

*Update*

Scottie Scheffler arrives at Valhalla ahead of his 10:08 a.m second round tee time.

*Update*

The PGA of America released this statement regarding the fatal accident, which diverted traffic at Valhalla this morning.

“This morning we were devastated to learn that a worker with one of our vendors was tragically struck and killed by a shuttle bus outside Valhalla Golf Club. This is heartbreaking to all of us involved with the PGA Championship. We extend our sincere condolences to their family and loved ones.” 

Per the PGA Tour, Scheffler released the following statement.

We will update this developing story as more information on the situation is revealed.

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