Brendon Todd was on a mission to capture his first PGA Tour win at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. He chipped in from the bunker on two to tie a surging Mike Weir for the lead, and made key par saves down the stretch to win the Byron in dramatic fashion. After the round, Todd said, “My short game was on fire, that’s what really got me through.”
The 28-year-old has had a long journey to the winner’s circle. He missed 16 of 21 cuts on the PGA Tour in 2009, then missed 13 of 13 cuts on the Web.com Tour in 2010. Those tough times must have been what Todd was referring to when he said, “Big monkey off the back” to David Feherty after the final round.
Todd’s hard work paid off today. His chip-in for birdie on two briefly tied him for the lead with Mike Weir. Weir pulled away by going four-under through five, but he bogeyed the sixth hole to fall back to twelve-under. Todd tied Weir again with a birdie on five, and grabbed the solo lead at thirteen-under with a birdie on nine. Weir fell back to eleven-under after a bogey on nine, but Marc Leishman was in contention after going out in four-under 31 to get to twelve-under total.
Todd added to his cushion with a birdie on ten, and Leishman fell off the pace with bogeys on eleven, thirteen, and fifteen. Weir birdied thirteen to get to twelve-under, two-strokes behind Todd, but that was as close as he would get.
Todd handled the back nine pressure like a seasoned veteran. On the par-three thirteenth, Todd’s approach shot was next to a tree, and he was forced to play a lefty shot using the back of his club. The chip ended up seven-feet from the hole, and he made the par putt to retain his lead. On sixteen, Todd missed the green to the right on the par-five, and nipped his chip perfectly for another great par-save. On seventeen, he avoided the water by hitting his approach on the par-three to the left, and sank a 10-footer for par to bring his two-stroke lead to the dangerous eighteenth.
Todd hit a perfect drive and a safe approach shot to the center of the water-lined eighteenth green. A two-putt par gave Todd a two-stroke win over Mike Weir.
Todd summed up his feelings saying, “It was a tough day, lots of emotions, but I am excited that I came out on top.”
It is also an exciting day for the University of Georgia. Todd joins an impressive list of Bulldogs who have won this season on the PGA Tour: Bubba Watson, Harris English, Chris Kirk, and Russell Henley.
Charles Howell III and Marc Leishman finished T3 at 10-under.
–Bernie D’Amato (@bdamato711)
(Photo: Getty Images)