Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret has been roaming Augusta National this week keeping up with the four players with Clemson ties that were in this week’s field. Jonathan Byrd is the only one still playing, but that doesn’t mean Tim doesn’t have plenty of interesting facts and stories to share. We will pass along his recap following the final round tomorrow as well. Enjoy Tim’s piece below.
Byrd Tries to Clemson First on Sunday
Jonathan Byrd had an even-par round of 72 on Saturday and stands in 19th position entering the final round of the 76th Masters, the exact position he held entering the second round. That stands to reason since he shot even par on Saturday when the average score was 72.87 for the day.
If Byrd can score an even par or better on Sunday, he will be the first golfer with ties to Clemson to have rounds of par or better in all four rounds of a Major. He already has three in a row, something only he (2003) and Dillard Pruitt (1992) have accomplished at the Masters.
It would be a significant accomplishment when you consider former Clemson golfers have played 102 combined player tournaments (39 US Opens, 29 PGAs, 12 British Opens and 22 Masters including this years) dating to Parker Moore’s appearance at the 1977 Masters.
Even when Lucas Glover won the US Open in 2009 in Farmingdale, NY, he did not have four round rounds at par or better. Glover had rounds of 69-64-70-73 on the par 70 Bethpage Black layout. He finished at four under par, but his final round 73 kept him from shooting par or better in all three rounds.
Byrd has now played 13 rounds at he Masters in his career and six have been at par or better, all either 71 or 72. Glover is second to Byrd in career rounds at par or better at the Masters with four.
An even par round would also make Byrd just the second former Tiger to shoot under par over 72 holes at the Masters. Dillard Pruitt shot a six –under-par 282 in 1992 for the low 72 total, while Byrd’s 288 score in 2003 is second best.
Byrd will be out to break his own record for the best finish by a former Tiger at the Masters. He finished eighth with that 288 score in 2003 and won $162,000.
Of course, he can’t play too aggressively down the stretch as a top 16 finish will also be in the back of his mind. A top 16 finish means an automatic invitation to the 2013 Masters.
Ever wonder how a golfer prepares for the Masters on a Saturday? Byrd arrived at the course about three hours prior to his 1:15 PM tee time. He went though a stretching routine, had a bite of lunch, then started a 75 minute practice regimentation that leads right to his tee time.
He starts with 20 minutes of putting from all distances, then hits chip shots for 10 minutes. He then moves to the driving range where he hits balls with various clubs for 30 minutes. He then returns to the putting green for a final five minutes of putting. It is convenient at Augusta National because the putting green is a mere 25 yards from the first tee.
Byrd Shot of the Day
Jonathan Byrd made a birdie on the seventh hole today, one of just 10 birdies at that hole all day. It is a difficult hole and Kyle Stanley will be the first to tell you that. He made double bogey on Thursday and Friday on number seven, and if he had just made a bogey each day, he would be playing this weekend.
Byrd hit his drive a little short by his standards and still had 180 yards left on the 450 yard hole. He took a long time to hit the shot as he was in between clubs. “I didn’t know whether to hit a hard seven or an easy six,” said Byrd. “It is a difficult hole because you don’t want to go long, but I chose the six and it ended up five feet left of the pin.” It almost went in after a bounce, much to the thrill of the patrons.
Byrd then watched as playing partner Sean O’Hair made a birdie with a 25 foot putt from off the green. Perhaps it gave the former Clemson All-American good swing thoughts as he made the putt to go to one-under par for the day.
Byrd by the Numbers
Byrd had a consistent round on Thursday, as an even par 72 might indicate. He hit 12-14 fairways and had 14 pars in his 18 holes. He had two birdies, the seventh and 13th holes, and two bogeys, the 12th and 16th holes. He was one-under par on the par fives, one under par on the par fours and two over par on the par threes.
He got off to a great start in terms of ball striking in that he was 7-7 in hitting fairways and 8-9 in hitting greens in regulation on the first nine holes. But, he did not make a putt over five feet on the front nine and shot a 35.
On the back nine he made some good saves, including the 10th hole when he got up and down out of a bunker when he made a seven footer. That was actually his second straight “sandie” as he had gotten up and down out of a bunker on number-nine. He then got up-and-down from the fringe on the difficult 11th hole when he made a six-footer.
He finished with 31 putts, but his 18 made putts totaled just 47 feet, as he did not make a putt over seven feet all day. That is not to say he putted poorly, he did not have a three-putt and had five one-putts. Many of his initial putts called for long lag putts, which he executed.
For the first 54 holes, he has averaged 279.17 yards in driving distance, has hit the fairway 34-42 attempts, 11th best in the field, and has hit 33-54 greens.
According to Jonathan
“I played well on the front nine today as I hit fairways and greens. I just didn’t make any putts. I hit good putts, they just didn’t go in. I was pleased with how I stood at the turn.
“On the back nine I had some good up-and-downs, but I bogeyed two of the par threes and didn’t take advantage of the par fives.
“My pace has been good ( as far as putting). I don’t think I have any three-putts all week. But, I have not done well on the par fives. I had one birdie on the par fives today, but overall I haven’t made as many as I should.”
Byrd is one under par on the par fives for the week with two birdies and a bogey.
Golf World’s Jim Moriarty
One of the writers covering the Masters for Golf World magazine has a link to Clemson athletics. Jim Moriarty travels the world covering golf for that excellent weekly magazine, but 30 years ago he was a free lance photographer for the Clemson Athletic Department.
Jim and I go back to 1976 when he was the Notre Dame hockey beat writer for the South Bend Tribune and I worked as a student in the sports information office. In 1982 he moved to Southern Pines, NC and worked as a golf writer and photographer. At the beginning of the 1982 football season he asked if I was interested in him shooting some slides at our football games.
I said sure and he became one of the top photographers in the Southeast. Clemson fans probably have old posters of David Treadwell’s game winning kick against Georgia in 1986, and the “Safety Celebration” against the Bulldogs the very next year. Those were Jim Moriarty photos. He took the photos of 80 percent of our program covers in the 1980s as well and many of the photos in the concourse at Clemson Memorial Stadium were taken by Jim.
He sold his cameras about 15 years ago and is a writer full time now. But, thanks to him and Bob Waldrop, we have great images of that era in Clemson football.
The Day Phil Mickelson Lost to a Clemson Tiger
While Peter Hanson has the lead after three rounds of the Masters, Phil Mickelson was the talk of the day as he shot a six-under-par 30 on the back nine to jump into second place entering Sunday’s final round. Mickelson fired a 66 for the day, much to the delight of the thousands of Phil fans in attendance.
It reminded me of the day that a Clemson sophomore upset Mickelson in a major college tournament. Nicky Goetze made an eagle on the 17th hole at the Ping Preview at Poppy Hills Country Club in Monterey, CA and beat Mickelson.
It was not your regular eagle on a par five. Goetze knocked the ball in the hole from 150 yards out on a par four. Goetze finished with a 69 that day and a 209 total for the tournament to win medalist honors. Clemson also won the team competition and was featured on the cover of Golf World magazine the following week.
That was a stunning victory for Goetze because Mickelson was the defending NCAA Champion at the time and was the top amateur golfer in the nation.
Perfect Weather Day
It was a perfect weather day at Augusta National, 74 degrees and sunny the entire afternoon. The Masters has been blessed with great weather over the years. I believe only two rounds have been rained out completely (no play for an entire day) in the last 30 years. One of them was in 1983 when my best friend growing up, John Scully, came all the way from Connecticut to see his first Masters.
When we got to the gate at 9AM, play was called for the day as it had already rained all night. What was really sad was that I only had the tickets for one day. John had come all the way from Connecticut and was out of luck. Fortunately, he was able to come back six years later and finally saw the Masters on a sunny Friday afternoon.
But, that story is one of the reasons the people at the Masters strive to have play run on schedule as much as possible and they do a great job with the grounds. One of the people who helps in that process is Clemson graduate Tommy Crenshaw, who is the chief horticulturist for the property.
The Day I Took Coach Wilhelm to Augusta National
The last time Jonathan Byrd made the cut prior to this year was the 2003 masters, just Byrd’s second year as a professional. The first day had minimal play due to rain and Byrd would have to play 35 holes on Friday.
This time I benefitted by having tickets on a Friday because there would be play all day for Byrd. I had arranged to bring Coach Bill Wilhelm to the Masters with Al Adams, the man I replaced as assistant sports information director under Bob Bradley 34 years ago, and good friend Sanford Rogers.
Coach Wilhelm had gone to the Masters often when he first came to Clemson in 1958. “In the late 1950s and early 1960s, you could get up on Sunday morning drive to Augusta National and buy a ticket at the gate,” I recall Wilhelm telling me. “We never played (college baseball) on Sundays in those days, so Sarah (his wife) and I would just drive down on Sundays and watch Arnold Palmer.”
Wilhelm was interested in going in 2003 because he wanted to see Byrd play. He was a big fan of the then second-year pro because in his retirement he often went out to the golf practice facility and hit balls with the Clemson golf team. So he had gotten to know Byrd and was very proud of him.
Coach Wilhelm kept up with us all day as we walked about 25 holes with Byrd and watched him finish the first round with a 74 and fire a second round 71.
It was so muddy that day that Rogers took his sneakers off in the parking lot at the end of the day and just left them there. That old parking lot is now the pristine practice facility and I wonder if those old sneakers are buried somewhere under one of those practice greens.
Mills Returns to Augusta National
One of the spectators following Jonathan Byrd for some of the day was Clemson junior Corbin Mills, who played in the first two rounds of this year’s Masters. He had a lesson earlier in the day as he prepares to play a second consecutive PGA Tour event next week at the Heritage in Hilton Head.
As he said to the press after his second round, “I have this pin that gets me anywhere this week, I might as well take advantage of it.”
Mills plans to go to Hilton Head on Sunday and begin preparation for the RBC Heritage that begins on Thursday. Mills is one of five Clemson golfers in the field, as he is joined by Tommy Biershenk, Lucas Glover, Kyle Stanley and D.J. Trahan.
Jonathan Byrd will play with former US Open Champion Jim Furyk on Sunday. They begin play at 12:50 PM. Tiger Woods plays at 11:30 AM with Vijay Singh. Phil Mickelson and Peter Hanson are in the final pairing beginning at 2:40 PM.