From a New Mexico Pasture to US Open

By Associated PressJune 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- They grew up on a public golf course, certainly nothing as lush or scenic as Torrey Pines.
 
Brad Bryant thought he might be good enough to make a living at golf, and Bart took up the game to be like his big brother. They played on a nine-hole course in New Mexico until it was too dark to see, and sometimes they slept under the stars near the swimming pool at Alamagordo Country Club so they could move the sprinklers around the golf course.
 
This was before they had automatic sprinkling systems. We did a lot of that, Brad said. We moved sprinklers in the middle of the night and mowed the greens and helped mow the fairways. And it was a pretty cool time.
 
This is a pretty special time, too.
 
The Bryant brothers'separated by eight years, linked by their well-kept moustaches and plain style'are the first brothers to compete in the U.S. Open since Jay and Jerry Haas in 2002 at Bethpage Black.
 
Just like the old days, it was little brother doing all he could to join the party.
 
Brad Bryant, 53, went 474 starts on the PGA Tour before winning at Disney for his only victory. He hasnt played the U.S. Open since 1996 at Oakland Hills and figured he had seen his last major championship. Then he rallied from five shots behind on the final day at Whistling Straits last year to capture the U.S. Senior Open, earning an exemption to Torrey Pines.
 
This is quite a gift at a late age to be playing in this event, he said. I really thought that my days of playing in major events were over. We have majors on the Champions Tour, but theyre just kind of big tournaments for old people.
 
Bart Bryant, now 45, turned out to be the more successful of the two.
 
He endured endless surgeries and trips to the minor leagues until he broke through with his first PGA Tour victory in 2004 at the Texas Open, then followed with victories in the Memorial and Tour Championship, beating Tiger Woods by six shots in the latter.
 
His game slipped for a couple of years, enough to knock him out of the top 50, and even a runner-up finish to Woods at the Arnold Palmer Invitational wasnt enough to get a free pass to the U.S. Open.
 
He didnt like the idea of qualifying'except that big brother was going to be playing.
 
I didnt know if I could even walk 36 holes, but it ended up being a really good day, Bart said of his qualifier, where he finished second to easily make it. Its only been a week or so that Ive known that I would be playing, but its been really exciting.
 
The Bryants are sons of a Baptist minister, who spent his afternoons teaching them to play. As they grew older and followed their dreams to the PGA Tour, they leaned on each other in hard times.
 
Bart had every reason to quit golf after injuries to his left rotator cuff, left elbow and right elbow, and seemingly endless trips to the minor leagues to support his family.
 
Phone calls from big brother kept him going.
 
The fact that he said, Bart, you have the talent, youre good enough to play on the PGA Tour, I really believe that that may not sound like a lot to you guys, but for me, that was everything, he said. Because I really doubted at times that I had the ability to compete with these guys out here. To hear it from somebody I admire, that meant something to me.
 
Little brother returned the favor.
 
Brad was struggling with his putter when Bart persuaded him to try the claw putting grip, which changed everything. Brad made it through Champions Tour qualifying school and now has made over $4 million to go along with four victories on the senior circuit.
 
They also have been called by the others names, which was annoying to Brad when he was winning on the Champions Tour and to Bart when he was winning on the PGA TOUR.
 
And it didnt stop at the U.S. Open.
 
Bart Bryant was the first to register at Torrey Pines, getting his parking pass and ID badge.
 
Of course, mine said, Brad Bryant. And I didnt notice it for an hour, he said. I took it back in and said, It doesnt bother me, but when Brad gets here, hell probably want his own.
 
They managed to play six holes together in a practice round, and Bart Bryant wondered why the USGA didnt bother putting them together for the first two rounds. After all, the USGA went out of its way to put Woods and Phil Mickelson in the same group.
 
No matter. Theyre at Torrey Pines for a U.S. Open, a long road for both that converged in a most unlikely place.
 
This may very well be the last time we get to do something this special, Brad said, as far as golf goes.
 
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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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    J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

    Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

    ''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''


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    Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

    Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

    Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

    She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

    ''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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    Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

    Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

    ''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

    Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

    Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

    ''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

    It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.


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    Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

    Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

    The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

    ''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

    PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

    Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

    ''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

    It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

    He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

    ''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

    Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

    Later, he laughed about the moment.

    ''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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    Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

    By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

    Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

    Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

    The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

    “They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

    The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

    “Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”


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    Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

    “As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

    Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

    “Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.