Bryant shared the lead twice during the final round, but never had the outright lead until that final birdie dropped.
'I was more than a little excited to say the least when that putt went in. It's been a long, long time since I've been in that position,' said Bryant, who earned $247,500 for the win. 'My heart was going 100 mph. on the last green.'
Bobby Wadkins was the clubhouse leader at 8-under-par 205 thanks to a closing 66 of his own until Bryant passed him. Wadkins was joined in a tie for second place by John Harris and 2005 winner Mark Johnson, who both carded 68s in the final round.
Mike Reid posted a 4-under 67 to finish in a tie for fifth at minus-7. David Eger and Vicente Fernandez finished alongside Reid.
Bryant was biding his time for most of the round as he parred the first 10 holes at Newport Beach Country Club. He caught fire from there as he birdied three straight holes from the 11th to get to 7 under.
'My caddie said 'six birdies on the back nine' will be good,' Bryant said. 'We came close. It was just a matter of being real patient because I played really poorly early in the day.'
The 51-year-old birdied the 15th to join Wadkins and Eger in the lead at minus-8. Bryant two-putted for par at each of the next two holes.
Wadkins was 3 under over the opening nine holes with an eagle, two birdies and a bogey. He birdied 12, 15 and 16 to get to minus-9 and take the outright lead. However a bogey on 17 left him at 8 under.
Bryant's second to the par-5 closing hole finished in a greenside bunker. He pitched to 7 feet and drained that putt for birdie and the lead.
'I hit the putt and it just kind of fell in the right edge. I was overwhelmed at that moment,' Bryant said.
Several players had a chance to join Bryant in the lead at 9 under, but it was Johnson who had the best chance.
Johnson, the popular winner from last year, birdied the third. He gave a stroke back with a bogey on the eighth. Beer Man, as Johnson is known, came right back with a birdie on the ninth to get back to 6 under.
The 51-year-old got to minus-7 with a birdie on the par-3 13th. Johnson came to the par-5 closing needing eagle to force a playoff. However, Johnson's 15-foot eagle putt slid just low of the hole and he tapped in for birdie to finish one shot short.
Eger had opened with three straight birdies to move to 7 under. He dropped a stroke on the seventh, but came back with birdies on 10 and 15. Eger could only play the final three holes in plus-1 to finish two back.
Bob Gilder and Hale Irwin each closed with 67 to end in a share of eighth place at 6-under-par 207. They were joined there by Tom Wargo (68), Jose Maria Canizares (69) and Mike McCullough (69). Ed Dougherty, Graham Marsh and Tom Purtzer were one stroke further back at minus-5.