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Bryant back to defend Champions tour title in NY

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 14, 2014 at 11:27 am •  Published: August 14, 2014

ENDICOTT, N.Y. (AP) — For Bart Bryant, En-Joie Golf Club will always be special.

As a 50-year-old rookie on the Champions Tour and wondering about his future as a player, Bryant won the Dick's Sporting Goods Open last year, becoming the tour's 1,000th winner and erasing a lot of doubt in his mind.

"It was kind of big for me," Bryant said this week. "I had been out for about three years. At that time, my game was really an unknown. I wasn't sure what I could do, how I could play. As the year went on, I started realizing I might have some semblance of a game."

Bryant won in his 14th start on the circuit. It was his first victory since winning the 2005 Tour Championship, ending a drought of 7 years, 9 months, 11 days. He also won the 2005 Memorial and the 2004 Valero Texas Open on the PGA Tour.

That was before two surgeries on his left wrist relegated him to spectator status for nearly three years and left him wondering if he'd ever play again, let alone win.

"To pull out a win my first year back after being hurt was pretty big for me," Bryant said. "It gave me the belief that I could do this. It gave me some confidence, let me know I was going to be OK."

Bryant shot a tournament record-tying 10-under 62 in the second round to build a four-shot lead and closed with a 72 to finish at 16-under 200, one shot better than Russ Cochran and Corey Pavin.

Bryant is paired with Willie Wood, who won the tournament in 2012, and Fred Funk in the penultimate threesome on Friday's opening round. Since the Dick's Sporting Goods Open began in 2007, there have been no repeat winners.

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