Bart Bryant

While Bart Bryant is a new face to many fans he’s been banging around the golf landscape for many years. He’s earned exemption and a regular PGA job by sticking with his game for nearly twenty years.

ProFilesThe ability to stick with something when you don’t see results is a noble quality. For every player who’s won an event on the PGA Tour or risen to join the ranks of the very best in the world there are hundreds who never make it. Whether its finances, nerves, or lack of talent or perseverance, not everyone succeeds on Tour. For every glory story there are many who find other ways of making a living, other ways of enjoying the game of golf.

Of course there are those who stick with golf through lean years, years in which success is only a fleeting thought. Bart Bryant, like a lot of guys on Tour, had to stick with the game through some very lean years before finding more security in the game he loves so much.

Bryant had some good examples of what it means to see something through to the end. Born in Gatesville, Texas on November 18, 1962 he is the son of a Baptist preacher. Watching his dad persevere in his vocation taught him something about perseverance.

Bart’s brother Brad played on the PGA Tour for many years. 1980 was Bart’s first year on Tour and it wasn’t until 1995 that he hoisted a trophy for the first time. His first win came at the Walt Disney World Oldsmobile Classic and it turned out to be the only win of his career. He’s still playing hard on the Champion’s Tour and looking for win number two.

Bart’s first foray into life on the Tour came in 1986 when he played the Hardee’s Golf Classic and tied for 32nd. He was 256th on the money list that year with only one event played and $2,075.56 in earnings.

So yes, Bart Bryant has something to say to us about perseverance. He also might say that doing the things you love is not always about being king of the hill, its about enjoying the journey. A cursory examination of Bryant’s results between 1986 and 2004 reveals that he had a slow start.

In 1993 he was back to the Nationwide or Nike Tour. Fourteen times in 1995 he missed the cut and his best finish was T11, in 1996 it was 13 missed cuts and no better than T18, and for the next seven years it was more no-man’s-land golf with mediocre results. He’s been through Q-School more than his fair share of times. “I think I’ve actually made it through school like five or six times,” Bryant once said. “I don’t know. I’ve missed a lot, too. I’ve been there a bunch.”

Part way through 2004 at the Velero Texas Open he strung four rounds in the sixties together and won. 67, 67, 60, 67 was good enough for a win at 19-under. With a total of three wins since 2004, twenty years after joining the professional ranks, Bryant has been rewarded for doing what he loves. Not a bad arrangement.

Bart Bryant wins the MemorialAfter tasting victory for the first time on the PGA Tour in 2004 and with a little job security, something he had never know on Tour, Bryant had the year of his life. In 2005 he won the Memorial Tournament and The Tour Championship. Last year he was 19th in the all around ranking and finished inside the top 10 on the money list in 9th place. “I don’t know what the 100th guy makes on the Tour,” Bryant said last year, “But I felt like I was certainly in that caliber of player that I could finish in the top 100, and that’s kind of where I belonged. I started to believe that, and somehow I just went right past there.” His Win at The Tour Championship gives him exemption through 2008.

Bryant had this to say after his Tour Championship win:

You know, to have I’ve struggled for as long as I did, and all of a sudden in the last 15 months, to win three events, even if I hadn’t won this weekend this would all be worth it. This exceeds my expectations for the week. I didn’t think I could make it into the TOUR Championship and I certainly didn’t think I could win the TOUR Championship. It’s a really cool feeling, and it’s one I’m going to relish for a long, long time.

Bryant’s struggle wasn’t only with nerves and his swing but with injury. Injuries have prevented him from playing in the past. He won his first tournament after returning to Tour on a major medical exemption. Prior to his return this year he was back on the operating table. He had knee surgery that required three or four weeks of recovery.

The biggest difference in Bryant, besides knowing he’s not heading back to Q-School anytime soon, is that he’s playing with confidence now. He knows that if he plays well he can stay with these guys. His Tour Championship was significant because he finished ahead of Woods, Singh, Love III, and Goosen. He knows he can play against the best. His recent success should settle Bryant and allow him to focus on enjoying himself and taking it one swing at a time.

I’m looking forward to watching Bryant play the next couple of years. He’ll be exempt for ever major for the first time in his life and I believe he’s got some more wins in him.

Photo Credit: © AP.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *