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Timing of first PGA Tour victory perfect for Peters Township native Todd

Tribune-Review
| Tuesday, May 20, 2014 9:00 p.m
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Brendon Todd plays his tee shot on the 12th hole during the final round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday, May 18, 2014, at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas.

Peters Township native Brendon Todd found out firsthand how quickly things can change in a week.

Last Tuesday, the professional golfer with local ties watched his beloved Pittsburgh Penguins drop Game 7 to the New York Rangers and, three days later, fire general manager Ray Shero.

That became old news by Sunday afternoon, though, as Todd, who lived here until age 11 before moving south, walked off the 18th green at TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas, for the HP Byron Nelson Championship, a PGA Tour winner for the first time.

“It’s a greater opportunity to chase my dreams, chase my goals and give back to charity at the end of the year and have a positive impact on the community,” Todd said during a break in his preparations for this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas.

Todd will have plenty to give to charity after closing with a 4-under-par 66 for a two-stroke win over Mike Weir. Over four days, the 28-year-old Todd shot a 14-under 266.

He took the lead for good with birdies on Nos. 9 and 10 and, as a result, pocketed $1,242,000.

Todd also earned an invitation to next year’s Masters and a two-year PGA Tour exemption.

That’s key for someone who had to go back to the Web.com Tour twice in the past five years to regain full PGA privileges.

“I think that’s exciting as well,” said Todd, who already has more than quadrupled his previous season high in earnings. “An opportunity I haven’t had so far.”

The unassuming Todd celebrated alongside his wife, Rachel, with pizza and beer in the media room early Sunday evening, though Rachel Todd stuck with pizza. The couple is expecting a son Sept. 30.

That Brendon Todd, who earned his first win in his 77th PGA Tour start, had something to celebrate seemed unlikely as of Saturday.

Not only were 14 players separated by just four strokes entering the final round, but it took a birdie from the sand after his drive on the 195-yard second fell into a greenside bunker.

On the 13th, a 185-yard par-3, Todd’s drive landed a few inches to the right of a tree. With no right-handed shot possible, Todd hit lefty using the back side of his 4-iron — and rolled his ball to within 7 feet to save par.

“I was a little bit bummed out that’s where the ball finished,” Todd said. “But when I got up there and realized that I probably didn’t have a right-handed shot, it was pretty simple for me. My creative mind took over. I pulled out my 4-iron, realized that if I used the back of that club, I’m going to be able to whack it down there toward the green.”

Todd, who played college golf at Georgia and helped the Bulldogs win the 2005 NCAA championship, has been tweaking his swing with coach Scott Hamilton over the past year and a half.

His takeaway (straight, staying on plane) and the position of the ball (further forward) have been the biggest tweaks for Todd, who played his final 31 holes at TPC Four Seasons without a bogey.

“We spent two years working on his backswing,” Hamilton said. “I knew we were rolling because he didn’t ask me one backswing question all week on the range. Normally we spend the bulk of our time on the range talking about his backswing.

“I told his caddy that. I said, ‘Oh my God. He hasn’t asked me one backswing question all week. We’re getting ready to get with it.’ ”

Though he played high school golf in North Carolina and currently resides in Atlanta, Todd still keeps tabs on all Pittsburgh sports teams.

“I’m a little disappointed in the Penguins right now,” Todd said. “That was tough. Losing 3-1 to New York. That’s a punch in the gut.”

Which is why — and not just for his burgeoning family or golf career —the timing of his first PGA Tour win was so important.

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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