Bryant nearing end of his career at Sony

By Doug FergusonJanuary 12, 2013, 8:41 pm

HONOLULU – Doctors warned Bart Bryant that he might never play golf again. Once the bones in his left wrist were fused, the outlook improved slightly. He should be able to play golf, but probably no more than once every two weeks. That's good news for recreational players, not so much for a tour player.

Bryant is near the end of his PGA Tour career, and he's leaving on his terms.

After going nearly three years without playing a tournament, he returned last summer and made the cut at the St. Jude Classic. Bryant is on a major medical extension and has only three tournaments this year to try to regain full status, but that was never the intention. He turned 50 last November and after playing next week in the Humana Challenge, he's going off to the Champions Tour.

But he's still playing, a minor miracle in itself.

To look only at the numbers, Bryant was nothing more than a journeyman. He didn't get out on tour until he was 28. He didn't win until he was 41. He won three times and finished in the top 50 on the money list only twice. He's not the kind of player who moves the needle. But his character is of the highest quality, and his perseverance was remarkable in the face of so many injuries.

Bryant had rotator cuff surgery in 1992, which led to five trips to Q-school and more time on the mini-tours than he cares to remember. He had surgery on both elbows, and the son of a preacher must have wondered at some point if God were telling him to find another line of work.

He finally won at the Texas Open, which Bryant considers his biggest win because it was the first. The other two wins, both in 2005, were memorable for who he beat. Bryant won the Memorial by one shot over Fred Couples, with Tiger Woods in third. And at the Tour Championship, he beat Woods by six shots and broke the tournament scoring record that had been held by Phil Mickelson.

To this day, Woods has never finished farther behind as a runner-up.

Bryant was tied for 22nd going into the weekend at the Sony Open, not bad for his first tournament of the year without being able to practice much. He still has to be careful with the wrist. Last year, he could only play 18 holes of practice without hitting any balls after his round before a tournament. Now, he's up to nine holes a day and a bucket of balls on the range.

''I think what's a blessing in disguise is I'm so wimpy that I don't hit it hard enough to hurt it,'' he said with a laugh.

Sure, he effectively lost the last three years of his PGA Tour career, though maybe it was for the best. Golf is getting more athletic, and it takes someone like Bryant to recognize that after stepping away for three years. When he played the John Deere Classic last summer, he had a practice round with a kid at Illinois named Luke Guthrie.

''I thought, 'Man, this dude is good.' And then he went on to finish fifth in the tournament,'' Bryant said. ''But other than that, I haven't had the opportunity to spend time with the young guys and I probably won't. I'll say this, though. It's amazing walking around and seeing the physical status of these young guys. Eighty percent of them are big dudes, man. I was telling this guy on the tee, 'Who started recruiting athletes to play on our tour?' Man, this sucks.''

And then he chuckled, knowing that for all he went through, Bryant got the last laugh.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.