It never happened. That isnt the way it is played. You have to play 72 holes, one by one by one. Through 69 of them, Fred Couples was the guy. On 71 and 72, Bart Bryant was the guy. No matter how hard you wished it were different ' it wasnt.
Freddie, of course, was extremely gracious in the post-mortem. He had bogeyed the 16th hole while Bryant was simultaneously making birdie at 17. Game over, virtually. Bryant endured some dramatics on 18, but the big turnaround ' two shots ' had come 15 minutes before.
Or one less putt. But who is Bart Bryant, anyway? And what is he doing winning a tournament like the Memorial?
Bart Bryant is a career grinder. Hes 42 now, a guy who played seemingly forever on the Florida mini-tours, and just happened to have a big brother who seemed to toil forever, also, in golfs twilight. Brad eventually won towards the end of his PGA Tour career, and now is a rookie on the Champions Tour. Bart finally won last year, too - at the Texas Open, played the same week as the Ryder Cup.
Freddie knows what the brothers have done. And, out of considerable respect, he bows in recognition of a lot of back-breaking work.
You know, Bart has been through a lot, said Couples, and he's a great, great player, and what a great victory. I can relate to winning here, and it'll be one he'll never forget.
Bryant will also never forget the times ' times too numerous to mention ' when success seemed so far away that he considered finding another job. He knew what he wanted to do ' play golf ' but he never could putt well enough to get it in the hole consistently. He, like numerous other players of late, turned in desperation to a form of The Claw, and then with the help of swing doctor Brian Mogg, began to regularly survive cuts on the PGA Tour.
You know, there were times when I laid in my bed at night, said Bryant, and I kind of thought, You know, what am I doing? I need to get a job and provide for my family a little better than what I'm doing right now.
Luckily, I have a really good support system of friends back home. I have a brother (Brad) who kept pushing me, and my wife Kathy has always been very patient and very supportive. And she has always said, You're going to make it, you're going to win, you're going to do well, it's just a matter of time. She never once said, Why don't you think about doing something else?
Afterwards, Bryant and tournament host Jack Nicklaus went through a little shtick in the media room. It began with a question - would Bryant still be playing at age 65, which is Jacks age?
I don't know if I'm good enough to play until I'm 65, said Bryant.
I'm not, either, said Jack. Not many people are.
The slapstick continued with Bart contemplating his chances of making the Presidents Cup team this year ' a team which Nicklaus is serving as the captain.
BRYANT: Do you want to go out for a steak tonight (laughter)?
NICKLAUS: Are you buying
BRYANT: You'd better believe it (laughter).
NICKLAUS: Can I have French fries with it?
BRYANT: You can have anything you'd like. In fact, I'll cut it up for you.
Nicklaus reasoned that Bryant was pretty close to the top 10 ' 14th, Jack figured. No, he was informed, Bryant isnt quite that high.
NICKLAUS: Sorry, I'm going to hold back (on) the steak until I find out.
BRYANT: It may be Steak 'n Shake.
Brad ' Dr. Dirt ' has always been extremely proud of little brother. Three weeks ago, I was at the Champions Tour event in Birmingham, and on Tuesday afternoon there were two solitary figures on the driving range ' John Mahaffey and Dr. Dirt.
How was his brother doing, I asked Brad.
Hes doing great, Brad beamed. In fact, I ran into John Mahaffey a while ago, and he asked me, Pardon me, but arent you Bart Bryants brother?
Thats the kind of affection they have for each other. Before long, Nicklaus might be saying the same thing.
BRYANT: I'm going to get out there and run around the 18th green a few times, if you guys want to watch me. I might just take a long jump into the bunker there and wallow in it for a while.
NICKLAUS: You're going to have to rake it (laughter).
He may have won the Memorial, but Bart Bryant was still Bart Bryant. Can it really be so bad that he defeated Freddie?
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