93rd PGA Championship - Round-Up
American Keegan Bradley has become the new US PGA Champion and a dramatic finish to the season’s final major.
Playing in his first ever major Bradley, overcame countryman Jason Dufner is a three-hole play-off after both men tied on eight under in regulation play.
Dufner will be kicking himself as he stood on the 15th tee with a five-shot lead as he watched Bradley find the water with a thinned chip and taking triple-bogey.
Dufner found water himself but did well to make bogey which then he followed with two more on the 16th and 17th and as Bradley regained composure he birdied those two holes.
Both men made par at the 18th which is one of the toughest holes in major golf to force the tournament into extra holes.
It was a thrilling afternoon when no more than four or five players where at one point in touching distance of the lead.
Leading the European charge were Scandinavians Robert Karlsson and Anders Hanson.
Karlsson made his move and surged up the leaderboard and at one point was nine-under par but three closing bogeys dropped him back to five-under and a final round of 67.
Hanson on the other hand will count himself very unlucky. The Dane playing some of the best golf of his life was well in contention until a costly bogey on 16 (his only one of the day) halted his momentum. He ended the day with a fine round of 66 to eventually finish a shot behind the leaders on seven-under.
A host of big names made a push but certain holes cost them dear as they failed to mount a proper charge for the leaders.
Lee Westwood will again be rueing his putter as he missed a couple of early chances on the 2nd and 5th in a round that tee to green was flawless. His only blemish came at the last as his tried to post a good clubhouse total as he ended on five-under alongside world number one Luke Donald.
Donald matched Westwood’s 68 but will also look back on his closing holes after finding water on the 15th and ending his challenge with a bogey on the last.
Both Westwood and Donald will look back at how they finished their third rounds and think what might have been.
Double-bogey’s for both players coming down the stretch on Saturday really made their challenge that bit harder going into the final round.
Adam Scott, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and first round leader Steve Stricker were there or thereabouts along with Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar who all secured top-20 spots.
But for Bradley it was time to pinch himself as he re-grouped and headed for the play-off. He is only the third man in history to win playing in his first major, the last being Ben Curtis at the 2003 Open at Royal St Georges.
He had all the momentum going in after his fine finish and the laid back approach from Dufner was not enough.
Full credit to the 34-year-old for holding his nerve and making a fine par at the last to tie Bradley and on the first play-off hole he nearly made an eagle with a stunning approach to the par-4 16th.
Bradley was not to be out done and matched Dufner’s shot to get inside his ball and as Dufner’s putt slid by the left edge Bradley rolled his in for birdie and a one shot lead going into the par-3 17th.
The final four holes at the Atlanta Athletic Club have caused major talking points all week and it didn’t disappoint coming down the stretch. The 17th playing only 160 yards but all over water is a daunting view for any player put both Bradley and Dufner found dry land.
With adrenaline pumping Dufner raced his first putt some 12ft past and failed to make the return as Bradley holed a three-footer to take a two shot cushion going back down the dreaded 18th.
To credit both men, they found the fairway and then both hit gutsy approaches and found the green pretty much side by side about 15ft away. Not giving up his challenge easily Dufner rolled his in, in defiance giving Bradley two-putts for the in which he duly took.
He could also be the first player to win a major with a long putter. The belly-putter will cause much debate as to whether that will go down in history as well.
The 25-year-old still has his head in the clouds after lifting the Wanamaker trophy and adding is name to the prestigious list of major winners.
"It feels unbelievable," Bradley said. "It seems like a dream and I'm afraid I'm going to wake up here in the next five minutes and it's not going to be real."
After making a gutsy birdie on the 16th coming off a triple-bogey on the 15th Bradley then rolled in a superb 45ft putt in regulation on the 17th knowing that even after his triple he was still in with a chance.
"No lead is safe. I kept trying to tell myself that and I'm very proud. It's the best golf I've ever played."
Bradley moves to 29th in the world rankings with his win and will want to add more majors to his name after winning his first so young.
For Dufner it will be a case of what so near yet so far as only a couple of loose shots kept him from getting his hands on the trophy.
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