By Eamon Lynch
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Jonathan Byrd admits he had only one thought as he hoisted the trophy at the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic last Sunday: getting home to Sea Island, Georgia, and then onward to Carnoustie, where his win had earned him the last spot in the field at the 136th Open.

"My wife and I were talking about it as I walked to the trophy presentation," he said Tuesday. Thanks to a ride on the John Deere corporate jet, Byrd made it home late Sunday night and celebrated his victory with a dinner at the local waffle house. "It was the only place open," he said. He arrived in Scotland Tuesday morning.

Byrd withdrew from Open qualifying a few weeks ago and didn't expect to be here. "My game wasn't where it needed to be," he said. He had missed four consecutive cuts before winning on Sunday. He's hoping for a more positive experience on his second trip to the home of golf: on his last visit his wife's pocket book was stolen, including a personal journal and the earrings he had given her on their wedding day.

Those looking for potential karma for office pool picks take note: in an interview with Golf Magazine two years ago Gary Player picked Byrd as someone with the potential to be the next superstar. Among the former winners of the Open at Carnoustie: Gary Player.

\nMicheel: 'New balls please!'

Former PGA champion Shaun Micheel had to make an emergency dash from the first tee during his practice round Tuesday — not to the men's room, but to the pro shop.

As he was about to tee off alongside 2004 winner Todd Hamilton, Micheel realized he had only three golf balls in his bag. A few minutes later he emerged sheepishly from the pro shop with three sleeves of Titleist Pro V1s. "That rough is a little deep to only have three balls," he quipped. No word on whether he had to pay for them.

Ernie's driver decision

\nOne of this week's favorites, Ernie Els, was experimenting in his Tuesday practice round. The Big Easy tried out two different big sticks, hitting two Callaway FT-i square drivers off the first tee. The first one he lost to the right. The second one found the fairway.

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