Hey, there was an American who had reason to celebrate Sept. 19, after all.
It wasn’t any of the U.S. Ryder Cup players who traveled to Oakland Hills. It was Bart Bryant, a native of Gatesville, Texas, and resident of Ocoee, Fla., who returned to his home state to capture the Texas Open.
Bryant, 41, earned his first PGA Tour victory in 187 events, shooting a final-round 67 to finish at 19 under and beat Patrick Sheehan by three strokes. Despite ending the long drought, Bryant looked forward.
“One tournament does not make a career,” he said. “This is just the beginning, that’s what I’d like to think.”
Playing under a major medical extension this season because of elbow surgery in 2003, Bryant needed to win about $409,000 in 23 tournaments to retain his exempt status. Entering the Texas Open, he had earned slightly more than $260,000 in 17 events.
With the victory, Bryant, who made it through PGA Tour Qualifying School five times, earned $630,000 and a two-year Tour exemption.
He is the third consecutive over-40 golfer to win the Texas Open, joining last year’s winner Tommy Armour III, and Loren Roberts, the 2002 champion. Armour, whose 26-under 254 in last year’s tournament set a Tour low-scoring mark, finished 20 strokes higher this year, in a tie for 41st.
Bart and Brad Bryant, the winner of the Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic in 1995, join Dave and Mike Hill, Lionel and Jay Hebert and Curt and Tom Byrum as the only brothers to win Tour events.
Brad Bryant, who finished in a tie for 37th at 273, looked on as his younger brother was given the trophy and oversized check.
“I think this is bigger for me than when I won,” Brad Bryant said. “He has been through so much, and he’s persevered. For our family, this is so big.”