I continue my look at Christians in the PGA during the most significant tournaments on the tour’s calendar. As of tee time on Saturday Jonathan Byrd sits in a 5 way tie for 5th place at the Player’s Championship at Sawgrass.
Jonathan Byrd has known some success as a professional golfer. He joined the PGA in 2002 and won the rookie of the year that year. He won 1 tournament that year – the Buick Challenge. And the next year, while not winning a tournament, he did turn some heads by finishing in a tie for 8th at the Masters. He has since gone on to win 4 more tournaments, including the 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, which he won in historic fashion. Check out the video below.
He became the only golfer in PGA history to win a tournament on a hole-in-one, accomplishing the feat on the 4th sudden death playoff hole to take home his 4th tour victory. What an amazing shot!
But it was his story of faith in God that first caught my attention and helped my notice the name Jonathan Byrd.
As I looked into the stories of Jonathan Byrd and his faith in God, his story resonated with me. As you can read in this article from the Washington Post, Byrd grew up in a Christian environment but when he went to college at Clemson, he was by his own words “I went to college and kind of had a wake-up call in college, living my life the way Jonathan Byrd wanted to live it. I didn’t like the path I was going down. I felt like God gave me the opportunity to see [what he should do.] He [God] wanted to be in control. He wanted to be number one in my life.”
Hear Jonathan talk about it himself in this video.
This spoke to me because, working with 5th and 6th graders at church, my heart is to help kids listen to God calling them to surrender control of their lives to Him. When we grow up in the church, it is so easy for church to be part of our routine but not part of our life. We can fill our brains with the knowledge of God, and the stories of Him at work that we read in the Bible, but unless we allow those stories to change our lives and surrender control to Him, then we continue to live for ourselves and miss out on the best that God has for us. That is my story. I grew up in a christian home, going to church regularly and getting to know the Bible quite well. But only a few years later – when I was in college, did I start to truly understand what it means to let God be number 1 in my life, at least as far as entering a true relationship with God. I still struggle many times a day for control and battle against where I feel God leading me. So it is a continuous work-in-progress to grow every day in my relationship with God and to trust Him with my life.
For more information on Byrd, check out this interview with Chad Bonham at Inspiring Athletes.
You can also visit the website for Fairway Outreach – an organization where you can “enjoy the great game of golf in a wholesome setting where the Christian faith is at the core of our values”. (taken from the organization’s website). Byrd is the honorary chairman for Fairway Outreach.
Byrd is currently tied for 5th at Sawgrass. One of the people that he is chasing is Zach Johnson. Tune in here next time to learn more about Zach and his faith in God! And enjoy what promises to be a great weekend of golf at the “5th major”.