In only 30 starts on the Champions Tour, Brad Bryant doubled his victory output from 20-plus years on the PGA Tour.
Bryant closed with an 8-under 64 May 7 to finish at 17-under 199 and a two-shot victory over Mark McNulty at the Regions Charity Classic. It was Bryant’s second victory of 2006 after winning the Toshiba Classic in California in March.
Bryant turned a three-stroke deficit into a two-shot victory over the final three holes. Bryant finished eagle-birdie-par to McNulty’s birdie-double bogey-bogey.
“The ending was somewhat bittersweet,” said Bryant, whose only PGA Tour victory was the 1995 Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic. “I certainly did not expect Mark to hit a ball in the water, let alone hit it in the water twice. That’s very unusual. He’s such a great player.
On the other hand, I just hit great shots.”
Bryant was referring to his 5-iron from 209 yards that set up a 3-foot eagle at No. 16 and a 3-iron approach from 219 yards at No. 17 that set up a 4-foot birdie.
Bryant called those swings “quite possibly the best shots I’ve ever hit in my life. Most assuredly, they were the best iron shots I’ve ever hit back-to-back in my life.”
At Ross Bridge, Bryant relied on consistent golf.
The 51-year-old Bryant was the only player in the field without a bogey. And Bryant missed only one green in regulation (No. 10 Saturday, by 4 inches) for 54 holes to set an all-time record on the Champions Tour. Bryant has only one bogey in his last 74 holes dating to the 16th hole in the second round of the FedEx Kinko’s Classic. He hit 32 of 42 fairways (T-64) and had 95 putts (T-50) at Ross Bridge.
McNulty knew the event would come down to the finishing holes. He bogeyed No. 17 Saturday and made double bogey there Sunday.
“They are certainly going to be imposing holes, definitely,” McNulty told the Mobile Press-Register Saturday. “You play the last hole with three guys, say me, Brad and Dick Mast and we’re all tied for the lead going into that 18th hole, somebody’s either going to screw up or hit a great shot.
“I think that’s inevitable. I might be totally wrong, but you’d have to say the odds are favoring that situation. It all depends on who wants it the most. Whoever wants it the most will do it.”
Unfortunately for McNulty, it was Bryant.