Bart Bryant becomes Champions Tour's 1000th winner

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2013, 10:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. – Bart Bryant has his first victory on the Champions Tour, and it's a cinch he'll never forget it.

Bryant, who shot a tournament record-tying 10-under 62 in the second round, closed with a 72 on Sunday and finished at 16-under 200 to beat Russ Cochran (67) and Corey Pavin (69) by one shot.

Duffy Waldorf (69) and Gene Sauers (67) tied for fourth, another shot back.

First-round leader Kenny Perry shot a 68 to tie for seventh at 12 under. He was one shot better than Bernhard Langer and extended his lead over Langer in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.

It was a special moment for Bryant and for the senior tour. He became the 1,000th champion in the history of the Champions Tour, which began in 1980 at the Atlantic City Country Club in Atlantic City, N.J. Don January, who won that first tournament, was on hand to congratulate Bryant.

''We thought there might be a market for us old guys,'' the 83-year-old January said. ''We was just interested in getting enough to make a living. There were a bunch of us guys in our late 40s and early 50s still trying to play the (PGA) Tour and wasn't being very successful at it. Yet we felt like we could still play a little bit.

''And I'm talking about guys like (Sam) Snead, (Julius) Boros, Bob Goalby, Gene Littler, Billy Casper, Arnold Palmer. That was quite a group. So we stuck our toes in the water and it turned out to be what it is today.''

The inaugural year consisted of four events. The other three played that year were at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., Suntree in Melbourne, Fla., and Turnberry Isle in North Miami Beach, Fla. The purse at the Atlantic City Senior International was $125,000 and the total prize money for the four-event season was $475,000. January took home $20,000. Bryant, whose best previous finish this season was a tie for fourth at the 3M Championship two weeks ago, pocketed $270,000 on Sunday.

''Truthfully, when we first started we had no idea how long it was going to last, or whether it would even be successful,'' January said. ''We thought we had a pretty good product, but we weren't sure of anything. I never thought in that realm of 1,000 tournaments. My god, that's forever. It's come a long way. Hopefully, it will get better.''

For, Bryant, who won in just his 14th start on the circuit, it was his first victory since winning the 2005 Tour Championship, ending a drought of 7 years, 9 months, 11 days. He also won the 2005 Memorial and the 2004 Valero Texas Open on the PGA Tour.

Bryant and older brother Brad became the third set of brothers to claim Champions Tour events, joining Dave and Mike Hill, and Lanny and Bobby Wadkins. Bryant also is the fifth player since the Dick's Sporting Goods Open began in 2007 to make the event his first win, joining R.W. Eaks (2007), Lonnie Nielsen (2009), John Huston (2011) and Willie Wood last year.

Bryant, who held the largest lead entering the final round of this tournament since its inception in 2007, vowed not to play conservatively because the narrow, tree-lined En-Joie Golf Club course was yielding lots of birdies under near-ideal conditions. Luckily for Bryant, nobody made that winning surge.

''It was a difficult day for me,'' Bryant said. ''Somehow, I managed to get it in.''

The key to going low at En-Joie is to keep the ball in the fairway, and nobody did it better than Bryant over the first two rounds. He was a model of consistency, hitting 10 of 14 fairways each day and reaching all but two greens in regulation. Small wonder he was the only player in the field to avoid making a bogey the first two days.

That consistency vanished with Bryant's first shot Sunday as he hooked his drive at No. 1 into the left rough. He hit just 4 of 7 fairways and reached only five greens in regulation on the front nine. His errant shots finally caught up to him at the par-3 fourth hole when he overshot the green, pitched back past the hole and over a ridge well past the pin and made bogey.

Waldorf made a pair of birdies on the front side despite some erratic driving – he hit only three fairways but reached every green in regulation. He sank an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 2 and made the other at the par-5 fifth hole with a nice up-and-down after hitting his second shot to the edge of a cart path and taking a drop.

Pavin, alone in second at the start of the day, was unable to make putts that were there for the taking on the front and parred every hole. Four birdies and one bogey on the back side weren't enough for that winning rally, his putt for birdie at the closing hole missing by inches.

Cochran, six shots behind after two rounds, reached 13 under with three birdies in his first seven holes to move into second.

Bryant finally broke through with birdies at Nos. 8 and 9. He spun his third shot at the par-5 eighth hole to within 2 feet, eliciting a nice cheer from the gallery, and calmly sank a 10-foot putt at No. 9 to go 17 under. It was just enough as he parred the next eight holes before bogeying 18.

Bryant missed a terrific opportunity after driving to 7 feet at No. 17 and missing the birdie putt, then recovered from another errant drive on the closing hole. After driving the right rough at No. 18, Bryant hit to 30 feet but missed a short par putt and made bogey to eke out the win.

Bryant's four-stroke lead over Pavin after two rounds was the largest 36-hole margin in the tournament's brief history and he needed every one.


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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.