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Bryant wins first career Champions Event, 1,000th for Tour

(Source: Jeremy Donovan)

ENDICOTT -- Entering the day, Bart Bryant teed off with a four stroke lead.  At the end of the day, he finished with just one stroke left to spare in order to hoist the Dick's Sporting Goods Open trophy in his first win on the Champions Tour, and be honored as the 1,000th in Tournament history.  Fittingly enough, his first tour trophy was presented by Don January who won the first ever Champions Tour event,

It was slow going early for Bryant after settling for par on each of his first three holes.  Four was arguably his worst hole of the tournament.  Bryant set the En-Joie course record for lowest score through two rounds, and did so without a bogey.  But on four on Sunday, Bryant's bogey-less streak came to an end at an impressive 39 straight holes.  He would make up for it on 8 and and 9 birdieing each to move to -1 at the turn.  His day would finish at even par after a bogey on 18, but he wasn't taking any chances with his par putt.  Bryant's bogey on 18 dropped him to even par for the afternoon.

By the time Bryant reached 18, the tournament was his.  Just one group before, Russ Cochran needed a birdie to tie Bryant, or par to at least put pressure on him.  Cochran's approach landed in the second cut on the back of the green, pin side.  From there, he had no choice but to play aggressively and try to hole out.  His chip missed the pin by mere inches setting up a more difficult par putt, than if he had had the ability to play it safe.  Unfortunately for the runner-up, Cochran would roll his par putt around the cup and settle for bogey.  Cochran finished the day at -5.

Bryant's group mates did not go away quietly either.  Corey Pavin began Sunday four strokes off the lead, Duffy Waldorf, five.  Waldorf was the first to make a move after birdieing two to move into second, tied with Pavin.  While Waldorf would finish the day at -3, with four birdies and a bogey, he would drop one place in the standings to finish at 4th.

As for Pavin, who said Saturday he would wait for the leaders to mak their move, he may have waited a little too long.  Making par on each of the first nine holes, he proceeded to birdie 10, 12, 13, and 16 while mixing in a bogey on 11.  He would settle for second place.

As is typical at an En-Joie tournament there was a pretty big crowd surrounding Horseheads native Joey Sindelar.  While he was not in great position to threaten the leaders, he was more than pleased with his performance.  After finishing his final round with a birdie that drew much applause from the home crow, Sindelar thanked the fans for their continued supports.  He also called his 2013 Dick's Open, the best tournament he's played since coming back from his injury.  All weekend long, the 1985 and '87 B.C Open Champ said part of his game is still lacking due to a dramatic change in swing, that he is still getting used to.  But, he added that he intends to play out the rest of this year's tour.  The smile on his face indicated he was already looking forward to next year's tournament.

Why shouldn't he?  After 2012's event was awarded the President's Award and this year's event saw record setting crowds for Firday night's concert, and gained the highest praise from all of the players and many officials, one thing is for sure: next year can not come fast enough.

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