Things fell apart for Bryant at the par-3 fifth hole


POSTED: Monday, January 26, 2009

KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii » The par-3 fifth proved to be Brad Bryant's undoing.

Not yielding a birdie over the final 36 holes, the 212-yard monster chewed up and spat out Bryant's chances of winning yesterday's Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

Holding a two-shot lead over eventual winner Bernhard Langer, Bryant hit his iron shot in the water guarding the right side, went to the drop area in front of the tee box, discussed several options with his caddie and promptly hit it in the water once more.

“;I hit it right, again,”; Bryant yelled out in frustration.

Laying 4, he chipped it up to the green and then two-putted for a quadruple-bogey 7 to walk away trailing Langer by two never recovering. Bryant went on to shoot 3-over 75 to drop from first to a tie for eighth, costing himself quite a bit of cash along the way.

He can take a little solace that No. 5 played very difficult all three days, but particularly yesterday, when there were 16 pars, 10 bogeys, six doubles, one triple and one quadruple for a 3.853 scoring average, the most difficult hole for the day. Ironically, Bryant was one of only four people to birdie the hole the first day. The other three were Jeff Sluman, Gary Player and Lonnie Nielsen.

The hole got even with Sluman as well. He didn't have a bogey all week until yesterday at the - you got it - par-3 fifth. Sluman did keep alive his streak of 28 rounds of par or better dating back to last year.

Runner-up Andy Bean had the best chance for birdie among the leaders, hitting a perfect iron shot to within 15 feet. He said his putt was right on line to go in, coming up an inch short to settle for par.

Bean gets close

Bean spent as much time describing the shots that didn't fall in yesterday's closing round of 6-under 66 as the ones that did go in.

There were several holes where he left his golf ball another roll away from going into the cup. Not that he was disappointed, mind you, because he wasn't. He was happy he had come so close to winning the first tournament of the year.

“;Bernhard had better watch out, because I'm going to sneak up on him this year,”; the burly 6-foot-4, 260-pound man said. “;He beat me today, but barely.”;

Bean and Dr. Gil Morgan had the best closing rounds for the day at 6-under 66. He began the final 18 some four shots off the pace and said on Saturday that he needed to shoot a 64 to win.

“;And I was right,”; Bean said. “;And I was so close so many times. I had golf balls hanging on the lip and burning the edges all day. I can't complain about anything because I played well. I play really well in the wind, and once it started blowing, I had my best stretch of holes.

“;I've always loved playing in Hawaii. I won twice on Maui and once on Oahu. It's because I'm familiar with the grass and the conditions. It's a lot like home (Florida). I can't say enough about this place. This is where you want to be to start the season. I'm in a lot better shape than I was a year ago.”;

Pate, Watson play through

Jerry Pate, who won the final Turtle Bay Championship in 2008, didn't think he'd be able to play five rounds (two pro-am and three regular) this week, but he did just that.

Nursing a sore shoulder that required its fifth surgery last summer, the only way he could play the Jack Nicklaus-designed course was to have his shoulder heavily taped to hold it in place.

Pate shot a 2-over 74 yesterday to finish in a tie for 15th at 7 under. He wasn't the only player coming off a season-ending surgery. Tom Watson had his hip replaced in October after deciding not to play anymore last August because of the pain.

He said on Wednesday that he felt like a new man, but wondered what his game would be like, especially his swing plane. Watson played solidly all three rounds, shooting a 1-over 73 yesterday to tie Pate at 7-under 209.

Player shoots his age again

Player shot a 1-under 71 yesterday to shoot his age all three days. It is the 24th time in the South African's career that he has turned that trick. He will be 74 in November.

It's not the first time this has happened in a tournament, however, on the Champions Tour. The last year Jerry Barber played on the senior circuit, the 78-year-old shot his age all three days at the 1994 Kroger Senior Classic in Cincinnati.

Player shot 4-under 212 for the week to finish in a tie for 27th place. Player ended up having the fewest putts of the week with 76.

Haas streaks ends

Jay Haas entered today's final 18 with 11 consecutive rounds in the 60s over the last three years en route to finishing third, fifth and third since his first appearance in 2006.

But that streak came to an end in the breezy conditions at Hualalai, where he shot a final-round 70 to finish third for the third time in four years. Nobody has played this course any better since 2007, but Haas has yet to get a win.

“;Somebody always seem to do a little better, no matter what I shoot,”; he said.