In the years since, Bryant has resurrected his career, winning two Champions Tour events in 2006 and one more this year before the U.S. Senior Open. He credits Smith, along with his family, as his driving force.
"If it weren't for Tony, I promise you I wouldn't be here right now,'' said Bryant, who earned $470,000 for the victory. "It's fun to win golf tournaments and the money is great, but when you have good friends - if you ever run out of money and you have good friends, your friends will feed you. Well, I've got great friends and I've got a great family and Tony is one of the closest.''
Bryant, the only player in the tournament to score rounds of par or better each day, said he was fortunate that both Watson and Roberts, who came into Sunday three shots behind Watson, played poorly.
"It was really scripted for Tom Watson,'' Bryant said. "The winds, the heat, it was really his day.''
The winds whipped up for the second straight day to hold scores down at the knobby course that sits on the bluffs of Lake Michigan about an hour north of Milwaukee, and the southwest winds sent temperatures soaring into the 90s.
It certainly appeared that Watson would finally win after falling short in his previous seven attempts.
He shot 1-under on the front nine before beginning the final stretch with a birdie to go to 9-under for the tournament.
But then came the collapse, as Watson frittered away eight strokes over eight holes, a stretch that included three double-bogeys, with terrible drives and poor course management.
"I hit the ball in the rough too many times, and today I got my just reward,'' said Watson, who finished with a 78 to end the tournament in fourth at 1-under.
Bryant, playing three groups ahead of Watson, said he had no idea he'd taken the lead, but knew he was close when he played No. 18.
"I asked Brad down the 18th fairway if he wanted to know how he stood, and he said 'Yes.' I told him, 'You're three shots clear,''' Smith said. "That basically just freed him up to get the ball anywhere on the green and the tournament was over.''
Divots: Bryant was one of only five players to shoot under par Sunday. Only Bryant, Crenshaw, Roberts and Watson finished under par for the tournament. ... George Zahringer's 69 on Sunday was the only round under par by an amateur. ... Eduardo Romero, the first-round leader, played No. 18 at 5-over for the tournament, while playing the rest of the course at par. Those strokes cost him at least $50,000 in prize winnings.