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March 16, 2006

Bart Bryant


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Bart, for joining us for a few minutes. Great start to the week, and why don't you just talk about what you did well out there and how the course went.

BART BRYANT: It was an exciting round for me, most encouraging round that I played this year, because I finally went out and made some birdies which is something I had not done all year. I felt really good about the round.

Obviously I'm sure everybody in here has stated this, but it was calm today. We're probably not going to see the golf course this easy again this week. The greens are still fairly receptive, so there were some low scores out there. It looks like 4 and 5 unders are kind of a dime a dozen today. But the course will change as the week goes on and I was fortunate enough to be one of those guys who kind of went maybe a shot lower than a lot of other guys.

Q. Did you eagle something out there today?

BART BRYANT: I did. I eagled 16, which was my seventh hole, which put me 5 under through seven starting off the round. I hit a good drive down the right hand side, had a solid 3 iron from about 220 to the pin, so I aimed right to the middle of the green and semi pulled it and rolled right up there left of the pin and left me an uphill putt.

Q. Scary.

BART BRYANT: Yeah, you're not aiming about there. But when you shoot a low round, there's usually a couple things that happen like that that sort of work out in your favor. It left me a pretty easy 12 foot putt and luckily I rolled it in there.

Q. Is it a good course for you, though, from the ball striking standpoint?

BART BRYANT: I think it is. I think it's a ball striker's course. You know, it's a little bit on the long side. But it is a ball striker's course. I think especially as the greens firm up a little bit, the ball striking becomes more imperative.

Q. You started the year as a semi cripple coming off your knee surgery, how much did that not so much set you back, but stall the start of your year?

BART BRYANT: Well, I was never comfortable. I played the first tournament in Hawaii and never made a downgrain putt which is kind of standard operating procedure for me.

When I came home and rehabbed for a month, went out to Riviera, La Costa and Doral, and I never felt real comfortable. I knew I was getting a little stronger but I had not really practiced enough to have my game in shape.

After Doral, I finally felt like last week, the week of Honda I took off and I did my therapy all five days and I was able to practice. I just felt like I was getting stronger and I felt like my game was coming around. Today I hit the ball much further than I've hit it all year. I think that has a lot to do with the strength of my game.

Q. You hit the ball farther?

BART BRYANT: I hit the ball a lot farther.

Q. Not enough to get home in two on 12.

BART BRYANT: Still not enough. I've got to pick up about 60 yards before I can do that. (Laughing).

Q. What's been the upside of winning twice last year personally?

BART BRYANT: The upside? (Laughing).

Q. Other than the obvious, the fun stuff we don't hear or see about.

BART BRYANT: Well, the fun stuff is, you know, walking through the locker room and having guys acknowledge that you're playing well. Sometimes you walk through and, you know, just like but it's been fun. Everybody treats you a little bit different. I mean, it's kind of nice. It's not going to last long but it's nice while it lasts. So that's kind of a neat thing.

You know, we were able to move into a new house, just some stuff like that, just kind of some fun things. All of the things that you would expect are probably what's gone on.

Q. Sweeter in the fact that it's come a little later in life?

BART BRYANT: Yeah, probably. I mean, because, you know, I won my first tournament at 41 I think or something. I mean, after 40, anyways. You know, with the Masters coming up, I think that at age 40, I almost had given up on a lot of things, and I was just hoping to somehow survive for a while to feed my family and hopefully put a little bit in for retirement.

So when that came along, I think it was that much sweeter for me because it was certainly unexpected, and so much to a point to where I felt it probably wouldn't happen, where when I was 25, 26, starting the TOUR, it was like, well, yeah, you know, before long, I'll be playing The Masters, win a few tournaments. When you hit 40, all of a sudden you go, hold on a second, this isn't going exactly how we planned.

Q. Does your body feel better at 43 than it did in your 30s, when you were getting injured all the time?

BART BRYANT: Honestly, even with the knee problems I had last year, I felt like it was one of my healthier years. I knew I was going to have to take care of it at the end of the year, but as far as my back everything and, I felt pretty well all year long. And really, I think here in another month when my knee is not even an issue at all, I don't think I'll have anything to whine about.

Q. So it's been both arms, and which leg got cut out? Which appendage has not been surgically repaired?

BART BRYANT: My right know has not gone down. I may have to do the right knee. Everything else has been worked on.

Q. Did you get recognized at all more after the two wins last year?

BART BRYANT: Absolutely.

Q. Any unusual places that surprised you that you were recognized?

BART BRYANT: Occasionally, you know, at airports, restaurants, stuff like that, occasionally, not real often. At the golf courses, you know, where I hang out or whatever, Grand Cypress, we have people from all over the world come in there and play and practice out there. It's been kind of neat to be recognized by some of those people.

Q. There's got to be a good airport story in there somewhere.

BART BRYANT: Good airport story?

Q. Anything unusual happen, anything really catch you by surprise?

BART BRYANT: Not really. Not really. Other than the, "Way to go, Brad, nice win."

Q. What percentage of the people call you Brad or Dr. Dirt?

BART BRYANT: You'd be surprised. I probably had about three or four "Brads" today and one "Dr. Dirt." It's weird, you'd think I would be getting over this by now. Maybe if I win the Grand Slam, people will quit calling me Brad, but I doubt it.

Q. Did you ever have a nickname?

BART BRYANT: No. I was never worthy, I guess. (Laughter). If you guys can come up with one.

Q. Are you doing anything differently physically after 40 just to avoid getting hurt, or was it just bad luck all those years?

BART BRYANT: Honestly I'm doing a little more stretching and a lot less practicing. That's why I've had the injuries I've had is because I'm not the most physically fit specimen in the world. But it's funny, all of these guys coming out are so strong, lifting weights. When I was growing up it was really taboo. That was the last thing you did.

So I don't think my muscles and joints have been as protected as some of these young guys coming out. I hit balls eight hours a day whether I needed to do or not because that's what I thought I needed to do. Over the last few years, I've practiced less, I've practiced smarter and I've done more stretching and that seems to be more the recipe for success for me.

Q. What's the craziest thing you've ever been asked to autograph?

BART BRYANT: Well, the kids are always coming up, "Can you autograph my shoe, sock." I had one underwear, not from a young lady, from a kid. I mean, just goofy stuff. But I don't think they really want you to. It's like they come up and just start getting goofy. Nothing real unusual. I'm lucky if I get people that want me to autograph something, so I'm excited to sign anywhere they want me to.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Let's go through your birdies and bogeys, you started on 10.

BART BRYANT: I started on 10, I hit an 8 iron in probably six, seven feet to the right of the hole, made a real good putt.

12, I hit a sand wedge in just behind the hole about six feet and made a nice putt.

15, I hit a 6 iron from about 185, just left of the pin, probably had about a 16, 17 foot putt there, made it.

Then we've talked about No. 16, I made the eagle putt from about 12 feet left of the pin.

Then went around to No. 2 and actually had a very, very tough, fast putt. I kind of stole one there. I had I had a 30 footer sidehill, downhill and it was picking up speed when it hit the hole and went in. That was kind of a big putt for me.

Then I birdied the par 5 no, I didn't. I should have, but I didn't do it. I birdied 5. 5 is the par 4, sorry about that. I hit it in there about ten feet straight down the hill and just kind of eased it in there. That was it. I had some good birdie putts coming in but didn't get them in.

Q. What were you thinking after you got off to that 5 under after seven holes?

BART BRYANT: Honestly, this is going to sound kind of lame, but I wasn't thinking a whole lot. I was really staying pretty much in the present. I guess in the back of my mind, I felt like I had an opportunity to go pretty deep, take it pretty deep there. I bogeyed the very next hole, I 3 putted No. 17, so that kind of put away any ideas of course record type things.

Q. Did you make a bogey today?

BART BRYANT: I did. I bogeyed No. 17. I had a 3 putt on 17. I hit a 3 iron just to the back of the green, putted it by about six or seven feet and missed it.

Q. Were you in the rough any?

BART BRYANT: I was in the rough on No. 3 today. I kind of hit a 3 wood left out to the right, and was able to get it up about ten yards short of the green and made a nice up and down.

Q. That's the only time you were in the rough?

BART BRYANT: You know, that was the only time I was in the long rough. I think I might have hit it in the first cut twice or something but that was the only time I had to hit it out of the long rough.

Q. I know it's only Thursday, but back in early June, you walk off the 18th green and shake Jack's hand. Arnie is usually hanging around 18 on Sunday; would that be a nice daily double?

BART BRYANT: I'm telling you, I mean, if I could somehow figure out a way to win this tournament some year, and then go and win the Byron Nelson, shaking all three of those guys' hands coming off the 18th green being a winner, that would be like, that, would be pretty cool. That would be some kind of story to tell your grandkids right there.

I tell you, you know what's really nice, I got a letter from Gary Player, from Jack Nicklaus. These friends of mine threw me this party, they actually asked Arnold to do a little film clip for me and congratulating me on that, and Byron Nelson sent me a letter. Isn't that classy? These greatest players in the world just acknowledging what you've done. It's really cool. I kept the letters. They are going to be framed some day. To have those guys do that is just real cool. I don't really know any of them, you know what I'm saying. Pretty awesome.

Q. When did Gary send you the letter?

BART BRYANT: I think Gary sent me a letter after I won Jack's tournament.

Q. And what about Byron?

BART BRYANT: Byron sent me a letter after THE TOUR Championship.

Q. None were addressed to Brad; right?


Q. They are all handwritten?

BART BRYANT: All handwritten. It was really cool. It really is a special deal. Something that I'll always treasure.

Q. Do you find people relate to you more because of your story?

BART BRYANT: I don't think so. You know, some people relate to me a little bit. I played with Charles Howell on Tuesday. I didn't exist, believe me. There are some people that relate to me, but where they are, I don't know. (Laughter).

Q. You're happy with that, though.

BART BRYANT: Oh, absolutely. It is what it is and I just love to play the game and I love competition. The accolades are plenty. I'm not looking for anything else.

End of FastScripts.

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