Bradley Victory a Family Affair


Nobody saw Keegan Bradley coming, except perhaps his father, Mark, a PGA professional who chose to remain secluded in front of a television in a condominium in Jackson, Wyo., watching his son march into major championship lore.

From that vantage point, with nobody around to add to his own tension, Mark Bradley saw his 25-year-old son cap an unforgettable, frenzied final hour of the 93rd PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.

Trailing by five strokes with just three holes to play, Bradley's chances at victory looked bleak after his chip shot from deep rough ran across the par-3 15th green and into the water, leading to a triple-bogey. At that point, he reminded himself that his dream wasn't over, especially with three tough finishing holes left to play at Atlanta Athletic Club's Highlands Course.

"I kept telling myself, 'Don't let that hole define this whole tournament,' " said Bradley. That mental "slap" led to one of the most stunning turnarounds in major championship history. Bradley stepped up to make back-to-back birdies, sinking an unlikely 35-footer at 17 that caused the gallery to erupt.

That birdie accompanied a collapse by Jason Dufner, who appeared unflappable all weekend after sharing fifth in the PGA Championship a year ago at Whistling Straits. Dufner hit his tee shot in the water on the 15th for the first of three straight bogeys that dropped him into a three-hole aggregate-score playoff with the surging Bradley.

Bradley hammered his drive on the 16th hole to open the playoff and noticed something in the fairway - his divot from regulation play less than an hour earlier.

"Keegan told me later that he had seen his divot and it kind of calmed him," said Mark Bradley, the head pro at Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club. "I had texted him on Saturday, 'By the way, it's Hogan's birthday today.' He and I are big Hogan disciples, and I kind of think that played a little role in helping him."

When Bradley made the putt - and Dufner missed his 8-foot birdie try, it was Bradley's first outright lead of the day. He added a two-putt par at 17 and then reached the 471-yard 18th hole that had played havoc with most of the field all week. Dufner applied the pressure by hitting his approach to within 20 feet.

Bradley hit his 6-iron approach, and told his father later that he lost sight of the ball. The roar of the crowd by the 18th green, who saw the ball settle just inside of Dufner's ball, quickly erased any lingering doubt.

Though Dufner made his birdie putt, Bradley rolled his ball near the hole for a short tap-in par, and became only the third player to win a major championship in his first try. He joined Francis Ouimet (1913 U.S. Open) and Ben Curtis (2003 Open Championship) in that exclusive club.

Bradley - the first major champion to use a belly putter - is also one of five PGA champions (following Jack Burke Jr., Dave Marr, Davis Love III and Rich Beem) who is the son of a PGA professional.

"It seems like a dream, and I hope it's real," Keegan Bradley said at the champagne toast in the clubhouse. "This was the best-conditioned golf course that I've seen in my life. If I could make one suggestion, you might cut the rough down back of the 15th hole!"

The 93rd PGA Championship featured 100 of the top 102 world-ranked players, and 68 international competitors from 20 countries. Though entering the championship ranked No. 108 in the world, Bradley ended America's longest drought in a major championship, a streak that had reached six.

Bradley closed regulation play with a 2-under-par 68 and matched Dufner at 8-under-par 272. Dufner, who entered the final round tied for first with Brendan Steele, posted a 69. Denmark's Anders Hansen was a stroke back in third after a 66, and 2001 champion - at Atlanta AC - David Toms (67), Sweden's Robert Karlsson (67), who carded three straight bogeys after coming within a stroke of the lead, shared fourth with Scott Verplank (70) at 275.

Dufner was the only player in the field to reach 11-under-par. He had played that final four-hole stretch in 3-under for the week - never once making a bogey - until the final round.

"Everybody has struggled on them," Dufner said of the final four holes. "Unfortunately, I had the lead and I struggled on them . . . that was the deciding factor, and Keegan made a couple birdies there, and I made a couple bogeys."

Dufner seemed to have the Wanamaker Trophy in his grasp as he stood on the 15th tee with a four-stroke lead over Anders Hansen, who was in the process of making bogey. Then he pushed his tee shot into the water right of the green to ignite the fateful chain of events over the remaining three holes.

Until his stunner on Sunday, Bradley was best known as the nephew of World Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley. He won earlier this year at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in a playoff, again after the leader faltered on the closing holes.

Nobody saw Keegan Bradley coming, except perhaps his father, Mark, a PGA professional who chose to remain secluded in front of a television in a condominium in Jackson, Wyo., watching his son march into major championship lore. From that vantage point, with nobody around to add to his own tension, Mark Bradley saw his 25-year-old son cap an unforgettable, frenzied final hour of the 93rd PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.

Trailing by five strokes with just three holes to play, Bradley's chances at victory looked bleak after his chip shot from deep rough ran across the par-3 15th green and into the water, leading to a triple-bogey. At that point, he reminded himself that his dream wasn't over, especially with three tough finishing holes left to play at Atlanta Athletic Club's Highlands Course.

"I kept telling myself, 'Don't let that hole define this whole tournament,' " said Bradley. That mental "slap" led to one of the most stunning turnarounds in major championship history. Bradley stepped up to make back-to-back birdies, sinking an unlikely 35-footer at 17 that caused the gallery to erupt. That birdie accompanied a collapse by Jason Dufner, who appeared unflappable all weekend after sharing fifth in the PGA Championship a year ago at Whistling Straits. Dufner hit his tee shot in the water on the 15th for the first of three straight bogeys that dropped him into a three-hole aggregate-score playoff with the surging Bradley.

Bradley hammered his drive on the 16th hole to open the playoff and noticed something in the fairway - his divot from regulation play less than an hour earlier.

"Keegan told me later that he had seen his divot and it kind of calmed him," said Mark Bradley, the head pro at Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club. "I had texted him on Saturday, 'By the way, it's Hogan's birthday today.' He and I are big Hogan disciples, and I kind of think that played a little role in helping him." When Bradley made the putt - and Dufner missed his 8-foot birdie try, it was Bradley's first outright lead of the day. He added a two-putt par at 17 and then reached the 471-yard 18th hole that had played havoc with most of the field all week. Dufner applied the pressure by hitting his approach to within 20 feet.

Bradley hit his 6-iron approach, and told his father later that he lost sight of the ball. The roar of the crowd by the 18th green, who saw the ball settle just inside of Dufner's ball, quickly erased any lingering doubt.

Though Dufner made his birdie putt, Bradley rolled his ball near the hole for a short tap-in par, and became only the third player to win a major championship in his first try. He joined Francis Ouimet (1913 U.S. Open) and Ben Curtis (2003 Open Championship) in that exclusive club.

Bradley - the first major champion to use a belly putter - is also one of five PGA champions (following Jack Burke Jr., Dave Marr, Davis Love III and Rich Beem) who is the son of a PGA professional. "It seems like a dream, and I hope it's real," Keegan Bradley said at the champagne toast in the clubhouse. "This was the best-conditioned golf course that I've seen in my life. If I could make one suggestion, you might cut the rough down back of the 15th hole!"

The 93rd PGA Championship featured 100 of the top 102 world-ranked players, and 68 international competitors from 20 countries. Though entering the championship ranked No. 108 in the world, Bradley ended America's longest drought in a major championship, a streak that had reached six.

Bradley closed regulation play with a 2-under-par 68 and matched Dufner at 8-under-par 272. Dufner, who entered the final round tied for first with Brendan Steele, posted a 69. Denmark's Anders Hansen was a stroke back in third after a 66, and 2001 champion - at Atlanta AC - David Toms (67), Sweden's Robert Karlsson (67), who carded three straight bogeys after coming within a stroke of the lead, shared fourth with Scott Verplank (70) at 275. Dufner was the only player in the field to reach 11-under-par. He had played that final four-hole stretch in 3-under for the week - never once making a bogey - until the final round.

"Everybody has struggled on them," Dufner said of the final four holes. "Unfortunately, I had the lead and I struggled on them . . . that was the deciding factor, and Keegan made a couple birdies there, and I made a couple bogeys."

Dufner seemed to have the Wanamaker Trophy in his grasp as he stood on the 15th tee with a four-stroke lead over Anders Hansen, who was in the process of making bogey. Then he pushed his tee shot into the water right of the green to ignite the fateful chain of events over the remaining three holes.

Until his stunner on Sunday, Bradley was best known as the nephew of World Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley. He won earlier this year at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in a playoff, again after the leader faltered on the closing holes. Bradley said that he hopes his PGA Championship isn't his lone shining moment. "I don't want to be one of the guys that kind of disappears," he said. "I would love to be up in a category with the best players and be mentioned with Phil Mickelson, one of my idols. I hope I don't disappear. I don't plan to."

"I don't think he is the kind of kid who will allow himself to be complacent," said Mark Bradley. "I asked him if he would like to take a couple days off. He didn't like that."

After Keegan Bradley secured the victory, he was greeted by his sister, Madison, and his nephew, Aiden. "My dad was going to be here, but he decided that he didn't want to mess with Keegan's karma," said Madison.

Mark Bradley, keeping his message simple, texted his son moments after the victory: "I'm so proud of you."

Keegan said that his caddie, Steve "Pepsi" Hale, looked him in the eye and helped him stay calm during the final-hole stroll in the playoff. "He said, 'Just enjoy this moment. Walk up 18 and enjoy it.'

"I tried, but I was so nervous that I didn't really," added Bradley. "Honestly, I was just trying not to fall on my face."

The above report is courtesy of the PGA of America. For more information, visit www.pga.com.


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