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June 5, 2005

Bart Bryant


BART BRYANT: I feel really good (laughter). I'm very blessed to win here, my second win. It'll be able to validate what I did last year. But to win against a quality field like this on a great, great golf course, you know, I said it and I'll say it again, but as a PGA TOUR player, to walk off 18th green and have Mr. Nicklaus waiting to shake your hand and congratulate you is beyond comprehension at this point; it's really cool, and I appreciate it.

JACK NICKLAUS: My pleasure to do so, to be there for you.

Q. Talk about 18, your thoughts when the ball went in the water and just your whole thought process and what transpired after that.

BART BRYANT: When I hit the ball on the tee, I thought I was going to be okay to be honest with you, but the first bounce was so big, I immediately thought, "Oh, this may not be good." I assumed when we saw it disappear that it was in the water. Of course it was not in the water but in the hazard. So immediately I started thinking about, "Okay, I have to go drop it, got to hit it a little right of the pin and hopefully make a putt." That's what ended up happening. I actually had the option to play the ball, although the bank was so steep and the water was really deep there that I think at best I could have got it 40 or 50 yards down the fairway if I hit a great shot, and I don't think that was the time to risk it. I had a perfect 6 iron yardage, so I saw no reason to really monkey with it. I hit a great shot and a great putt and it happened to work out right.

Q. What was the club?

BART BRYANT: A 6 iron.

Q. There seems to be some dispute as to how many surgeries you've had. Can you clear that up?

BART BRYANT: I had three, a left rotator cuff surgery in '92, and I had a left elbow surgery in 2000, and right elbow surgery in 2002.

Q. TV said back surgery in 2003. Not true?

BART BRYANT: I don't remember that one (laughter). That doesn't mean it didn't happen (laughter).

Q. When did you feel you were going to win this thing?

BART BRYANT: When I came out of the after I saw my car and I walked out, and they said, "Fred made par, you won." Although when I made the putt on the last hole, I felt like I had a good opportunity to win because I did see the board walking up 18, saw that Fred was 15, and when I made the putt I really felt like I had a good chance.

Q. How much of the leader boards did you see from say 13 on, and based on what you heard behind you, did you have any sense that Fred was at 22 under?

BART BRYANT: No, I mean, I knew he wasn't. I knew we were close. I heard a couple of roars, and I thought he could be making off, but apparently a couple of them were for David. I think David may have done something good on 15 or something like that. I wasn't sure if it was Fred or David.

But I think for the most part, I was able to keep up with what was going on, although playing 17, I wasn't real sure if Fred was 15 or 16 and then I was able to see that as I was walking up to the 18th green, where he was.

Q. Brian Mogg worked with you earlier this week. I was wondering what adjustment you make that helped you hit the ball better?

BART BRYANT: Believe it or not, he told me to take my right elbow and stick it all the way up in the air as high as I could on the back swing. I was getting the club stuck behind me, which has always been my pitfall. I get a little laid up and stuck. He wanted to get the club out in front of me more. He said get this right elbow moving and keep some pressure on the shaft and away from you. It felt weird all week. For the first few days I was really making a distinct practice swing doing that, and I thought it might look goofy on TV.

JACK NICKLAUS: Hey, that's the way I swing all my life (laughter).

Q. How did the first win change your life?

BART BRYANT: Well, I had the opportunity obviously the next two years to pick my schedule, and that was huge. I've never been able to do that. It's always kind of calling me up and saying, Bart, you get to play this week or you don't get to play. Finally I got to pick my schedule. Didn't go back to Tour school, which I seemed to do quite often. And the money was nice. It changed a lot.

And for me personally, it just gave me a lot of confidence. It said to me, "you have the ability to play with these guys out here."

Of course, a lot of guys were not there that week. I don't want to take anything away from the Texas Open, it's a great tournament and they get a quality field, but obviously the Ryder Cup was going on.

For me this year was kind of about validation, for myself. I don't think anybody else really cared one way or the other, but for me I needed to show myself that I belonged in the winner's circle and I could compete with Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh and these guys if I'm on top of my game. And that's where I have to be to compete. But fortunately I can get there occasionally, and that's where I was this week. I was really on top of my game, especially in my putting and chipping and bunker play and I hit some great iron shots and kept it in play.

I did everything well, so I got a couple good breaks. That's what happens when you win.

Q. Can you talk about all those Tour schools? Did you ever get to a point where you thought about quitting? Kind of a long road there, how tough that was.

BART BRYANT: You know, there were times when I laid in my bed at night 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 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." So I give her all the credit in the world for sticking with me.

You know, it's paid off and she deserves it a lot more than I do.

Q. You've probably had a lot of big putts that you stood over, especially if you're going through Tour school trying to secure your future. But your thoughts on that putt on 18 when you're standing over it. What do you think?

BART BRYANT: Well, I mean, I knew it was a big putt. But I tried to put that in the back of my mind, and I just tried to focus on the putt itself. I knew that it was going to turn a little bit right to left, knew it was going to be extremely fast, and honestly, I was hoping to make the putt, but I can't say that I was really trying to make it. I mean, I was trying to lag it down there because I knew it was going to be so quick. I knew Freddie was 15, I didn't want to do anything crazy and leave myself a four footer coming back, and luckily it just had the right line. Even as soft as I hit that putt, I think I would have had a four footer coming back if it hadn't hit the hole as slow as it was going.

Q. Can you talk about not having to do the qualifier tomorrow?

BART BRYANT: (Fist pumping) Actually I was going home early tomorrow morning and I was going to drive to Tampa tomorrow night and play the U.S. Open qualifier in Tampa. I guess I can change my flight now. It's like a $100 change fee, though (laughter).

Q. You were in the scoring shed there about the time Freddie was finishing. What was in your mind while you were doing your card and signing? Anything at all?

BART BRYANT: You know, Irv said "why don't you stay here for a minute and let's just make sure we've got this taken care of and everyone can wait outside, see what's going on with Fred." But I wanted to get out there and see what Fred was doing. So I kind of stuck my head out there, and they said he had a chip for birdie, and as soon as he chipped and missed, I went on out and talked to CBS.

Q. All the Q schools, all the surgeries, deep down did you really feel that this day would come?

BART BRYANT: I hoped it would. Honestly I hoped it would. I don't know that other people around me believed more than I did that it would happen, and luckily I kind of lived that through them. There's always been a seed of doubt in my mind that this would happen. But like I said, luckily I have just a lot of strong people around me that kept lifting me up.

Q. All these surgeries, was it just the strain of the game or did you have some freak accidents?

BART BRYANT: No, I think it was the strain of the game. I've always although I've gotten a little better, I've always laid the club off pretty severely and got it stuck behind me and had to whip it real quick, and I think just not having a really good golf swing honestly put a lot of stress on my body where I shouldn't have. Also, I would beat balls as much as anybody. I mean, I'd get out at 8:00 in the morning and hit balls until the sun went down, and I probably overdid it. I've gotten a lot smarter the last few years. Of course I had to because of being older and having the surgeries.

I'm finding that a little less practice, little more rest, little more work on the mental game has been the ticket for me, and a lot harder work on the short game, and that's kind of been the recipe for success.

Q. I wonder if you could talk about, there's obviously going to be a lot of focus on 18, but you had some other big putts along the back nine.

BART BRYANT: Yeah, you know, it's weird, I had big putts all week. Obviously the microscope is on them on that back nine. But I made a great comeback putt on No. 10, and then I hit it close on 11 and made a kind of little three or four foot slider. 12, I hit a bad first putt and had to make about an eight footer.

13, I hit it in there pretty good and actually gave it a pretty good roll for birdie. I thought I made that putt but it didn't go in.

14, I make it.

15, I make it.

16, I make this great two putt.

17, the ball rolls out, funnels behind the hole, four or five footer and I hit a great putt. And then 18...

I just got as much out of it as I could. Fortunately it was just enough.

Q. Were you more emotional last year when you won or this time?

BART BRYANT: Here, no doubt.

Q. Before you got out here, between the surgeries, where did you play, foreign tours, mini Tours in Florida?

BART BRYANT: Yeah, I played the mini Tours in Florida quite a bit until '91, and then that was my first year on Tour. I was about 26 or 27 when I finally made it. So I played a lot of mini Tour events. I think that helped me win out here. Honestly, I mean, I've only had two good chances to win on the PGA TOUR, and I've won them both. But I won so many mini Tour events, and it may sound weird, but I think that really has carried over in teaching me how to win out here, even though it's like night and day, the competition, but just winning is winning. I think that's happened.

Q. How many Golden Bear Tour events did you win?

BART BRYANT: I hate to say this, but I only played one Golden Bear Tour event, and I think I finished 6th place in it. That kind of came along after I got on Tour.

Q. I wanted to go back to something I mentioned earlier. You're going head to head down the back nine with arguably one of the most popular players out here, and you could hear it and sense it. I know that doesn't affect you, but I'm just curious what's that like as you're trying to win a tournament of this stature with a crowd that's almost entirely behind Fred?

BART BRYANT: Yeah, I didn't really feel that because I wasn't playing with Fred, and the fans were great and they cheered me on. When I was walking from the green to the tee, they were cheering for me and saying my name. I know Fred is way more popular than I'll ever be, and there was a lot of cheering going on for him, and honestly I didn't realize it was he and I going head to head until about 16. I assumed there might have been four guys in there, and I didn't realize it was just kind of us two until I saw the scoreboard on 16 green.

But I was too nervous to worry about that, believe me. I was just trying to do my job.

Q. No one called you Brad, did they?

BART BRYANT: Only about 50 or 60 people (laughter).

JACK NICKLAUS: And nobody asked you who was older.

BART BRYANT: Just one, but I'm not telling who.

JACK NICKLAUS: Me, and common sense should have told me because Brad is playing the Senior Tour.

BART BRYANT: Yeah, Brad is eight years older. I'm 42 and Brad just turned 50.

Q. Did any of those 50 or 60 instead of calling you Brad call you "Dirt"?

BART BRYANT: I don't think anybody did this week, but every now and then someone will say, "go Dirt." "Go where?"

Q. Do you have a similar nickname?

BART BRYANT: No, I'm boring. People are lucky if they can just get out "Bart Bryant." It just doesn't roll off your tongue, I don't know why. I'll have to talk to my mom and dad about that.

Q. You haven't played, according to the book, the U.S. Open since Oakland, I think.

BART BRYANT: I've only played it twice. I haven't played it since Oakmont, and honestly I haven't tried to qualify for it that often.

Q. How come?

BART BRYANT: A few times I was hurt, a few times I was playing the Tour. I didn't have my card secure at that point, and it's pretty tough to go play 36 holes and then play the same week. Not to say I haven't tried; I've tried a few times and just didn't make it. But a couple of times I tried and didn't make it. I tried to focus on the tournaments I could play and just took that week off. I know you guys don't like to hear that and that's probably not the thing to do because it's our U.S. Open, how can you not try to qualify.

But after I won last year, I was really looking forward to starting to play the majors. I think I need to do that, start getting into the major golf tournaments if I'm going to get to the next point in my career.

Q. Those two U.S. Opens are the only majors you've played, period?

BART BRYANT: Yeah. I mean, I hope to play much more soon. I know I'll be in the PGA for sure, the U.S. Open for sure. I don't know if this does anything for the British or not.

Q. Jack is playing the British.

BART BRYANT: I heard that.

JACK NICKLAUS: He can have my spot (laughter). I want to play, but you can still have it.

Q. You talk about validation. Where do you go from here? Would you like to meet up with Jack in September at the Presidents Cup? Is that asking too much?

JACK NICKLAUS: Not now it's not. You get triple points here, so I don't know where you were on the list, but we can probably find that out in 30 seconds?

BART BRYANT: If he'll have me, I'm going to give it a shot.

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm going to get you that you're certainly in the Top 20 by now.

BART BRYANT: Yeah, that would be cool. I would really like it. I'll have to tell my coach.

Q. You've talked about all these injuries, and here you are at 42. How long can you go now do you think?

BART BRYANT: I love playing golf. I want to go as long as I can. I hope to play until I'm 57 or 58.

Q. No aches and pains now?


JACK NICKLAUS: How about 65?

BART BRYANT: I don't know if I'm good enough to play until I'm 65.

JACK NICKLAUS: I'm not, either. Not many people are.

BART BRYANT: I love to compete. There's nothing I enjoy more than being on the golf course competing, just competing with myself to be honest with you.

JACK NICKLAUS: 14th on the list now.

BART BRYANT: How many do you take?

JACK NICKLAUS: We take the first ten and then I have two selections. You're not far off, are you?

BART BRYANT: Do you want to go out for a steak tonight (laughter)?

JACK NICKLAUS: Are you buying?

BART BRYANT: You'd better believe it (laughter).

JACK NICKLAUS: Can I have French fries with it?

BART BRYANT: You can have anything you'd like. In fact, I'll cut it up for you.

JACK NICKLAUS: I knew by winning last year and then by winning here you couldn't be far out of the team. I knew you'd be pretty close.

Q. There's four internationals on the list, so he would be 10?

JACK NICKLAUS: I was talking about Presidents Cup points. Then you're not 14th on The Presidents Cup points. Sorry, I'm going to hold back the steak until I find out.

BART BRYANT: It may be Steak 'n Shake.

Q. What did the surgeries cost you in terms of golf, time?

BART BRYANT: About six or seven months out of competition each time. Although, honestly, I should have had every surgery way before I had the surgery, and the first one probably came back too quick with my rotator cuff, although it's doing very well. But that was back I actually as a rookie I finished 124th on the Money List, and in 1992 I had the surgery, and at that time I was basically just out of luck. There was no kind of medical exemption, so I tried to play hurt and then I tried to come back too early.

Q. Rotator cuff was in '92?

BART BRYANT: '92. I ended up playing 19 events that year, but I played like the first six events of the year hurt and then I probably came back a little too soon. I probably should have taken almost the whole year off, or at least the first seven months of the year and played a few at the end of the year.

At that time, I'm young, I don't have any kind of medical exemption, I'm trying to do what I can to stay out there, stay active, feed my oldest daughter, who was two or three at the time.

Q. Left elbow was when?


BART BRYANT: Left elbow was in 2000, and the right elbow was in 2002, I believe.

Q. You said on the CBS interview out there that you knew someone was going to shoot 67 or 68 and win this thing, you just didn't know if it was going to be you. Talk about that a little bit. Is that because some of those guys have done more? Were you expecting more out of them or less out of yourself? What did you mean by that?

BART BRYANT: When I did the little clip for TV on the driving range, they said what do you think it's going to take to win. When I got done playing yesterday I thought someone would have to shoot 6 or 7 to win. When I got here you could tell it firmed up, the wind was blowing. I really felt like 4 under could be a good round, it could win. I knew I could shoot 4 under, but I knew I had to do a lot of really good things in those conditions to shoot 4 under. You know, you've got Fred, you've got David Toms, you've got Sluman, you've got Jonathan Kaye. I mean, those guys have been there a lot. I really felt one of those guys would shoot 4 or 5 under today, and I was hoping I could match them. Fortunately I was the one that shot 4 under and it seemed like everyone else was able to keep it around even par or 1 or 2 under today.

Q. Did you know how you were going to respond in contention for probably the first time this year?

BART BRYANT: No idea. No idea. I thought I might just throw my guts out, let them leak in the river on 17. I mean, laying in my bed last night, it was just a total mystery to me, would I go out and be confident, trust my swing, trust my putting stroke, or would I just get so nervous I couldn't play. I didn't know. But I was trying to go off past experience, and I've been through the Tour school, and I'll tell you what, talk about can't sleep, it's the last night before the final day of Tour school. That's rougher than anything. I had that to look back on and I was able to fight off the demons there, and also at the Texas Open, I kind of had to deal with that night having a three shot lead, and I was able to deal with it there. I was hoping I would come out and deal with it today.

I think being tied with three other guys took a little bit of the pressure off. I think probably of all the guys at the top, I was probably the underdog, the least one expected to do well.

So the limelight and pressure may have been tougher on some of the other guys and not me.

Q. When did you know that you were not going to throw up on yourself?

BART BRYANT: No, I was okay. When I teed off today and got into the round, I knew I'd be okay. By the time I got to the 2nd or 3rd hole, I had relaxed pretty well and felt like I'd be all right.

Q. How do you feel now? I mean, are you really jacked up? I mean, you're sitting there calmly, but is your stomach churning?

BART BRYANT: Yeah, I'm pretty excited. I don't know if I'm showing it real well or not.

Q. No.

BART 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.

JACK NICKLAUS: You're going to have to rake it (laughter).

Watching television all day, I spent all four hours on television, and there wasn't anybody that played better golf coming down. Hole after hole after hole, Bart had a chance to have something happen, and you did the right thing every time and never put yourself in a position, except for at 18, I don't think you did that, I think you just got a bad bounce, but each time you put yourself in a position not to hurt yourself and you made the putt every time, the key putt that you had to make.

We were sitting on the television watching, and hole after hole after hole we saw it. Freddie obviously played very, very well, and everybody else was just not doing anything. They'd get there, like Tiger would make a good thing and then he'd double bogey 8, then he'd birdie, then he'd bogey something else. He was there a lot of times. Everybody else was doing the same thing. You were the only one, you and Freddie were the only ones not making a mistake. Freddie hit it in about six feet at 15 for eagle and missed it, and then he hit it in the front bunker at 16 and made bogey.

Until that time, Freddie was absolutely flawless, and the two of you were just matching you'll hear this later, but you kept doing what you had to do, kept putting it where you had to put it, and it was very, very well done.

BART BRYANT: Thanks. Appreciate it.

End of FastScripts.

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