Kapalua, Jan 11 (Agencies): Jonathan Byrd was initially at a loss for words after winning the biggest title of his career in the PGA Tour's season-opening Tournament of Champions on Sunday.

Byrd claimed his fifth victory on the U.S. circuit with a par at the second hole of a playoff after fellow American Robert Garrigus had three-putted there for bogey.
"I'm pretty overwhelmed, probably, is the best word to describe it," Byrd told reporters after earning the winner's cheque for USD 1.12 million, along with places in this year's Masters and US Open.

"I can't sit here and not think about where I was towards the end of the season last year, fighting for my card ... 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."

Byrd qualified for this week's elite, winners-only event with a spectacular victory in his final tournament last season, the Las Vegas Open, where he won a three-way playoff at the fourth extra hole with an ace.

"I get to come to Maui to play in this event, and then feel good coming into here," he added. "I worked hard in the off-season, 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 the above."
Byrd paid tribute to Garrigus for his cheerful demeanour, both during and after the playoff which dramatically unfolded in fading light on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

"I'm grateful to Robert, man," the 32-year-old said. "What a great display of sportsmanship."

"He's smiling in the playoff. He was probably smiling when he doubled the first hole yesterday and he was smiling after he missed that putt. My hat's off to him."

Garrigus missed a par putt from just three-and-a-half feet to hand Byrd the most significant title of his career.

"It's definitely the biggest tournament I've ever won," Byrd said. "I've won some great tournaments but this is the best field. So this is definitely a springboard for me."

Byrd began the final round tied for the lead with Garrigus and fellow American Steve Stricker. Two birdies in the first three holes put him two strokes clear and he refused to look at a leaderboard the whole way round.

"I didn't look at a leaderboard all day, not once," he said. "Not even on 18. I just felt like the way I had played this golf course all week is I wasn't trying to force anything. If you force things, you make mistakes."

"I played the course well all week and just let the birdies come to me. It wasn't until the 18th tee that I knew exactly what I needed to do. But I kind of had an idea in the back of my mind."