Bradley Wins PGA Championship


On a day when several players had a chance to win the 93rd PGA Championship, 25-year-old Keegan Bradley survived the difficult final holes at Atlanta Athletic Club to tie Jason Dufner, then beat the 34-year-old to notch the second - and biggest - victory of his young career.

The two finished tied in regulation at 8-under 272 after third-round co-leader Dufner closed with a 1-under 69, while Bradley - the nephew of LPGA legend and World Hall of Fame member Pat Bradley, who won for the first time earlier in May at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Texas, had a 68.

As the sun lowered over the Highlands Course at Atlanta AC and shadows stretched across the fairways and greens, the two played a three-hole - Nos. 16-18 - playoff, the second straight year that's happened in the PGA Championship. (Germany's Martin Kaymer beat Bubba Watson last year at Whistling Straits.)

On the first playoff hole, the 476-yard par-4 16th, both players found the fairway with their drives. Hitting first, Dufner's approach almost rolled into the cup but it slid 8 feet past. Bradley one-upped Dufner, striking his second to within 5 feet and below the hole. After Dufner's downhill putt rolled past, Bradley stepped up and made a birdie that gave him a critical one-shot lead.

On the 160-yard, water-guarded par-3 16th, as the winds suddenly picked up, Bradley hit a brave 8-iron to 15 feet below the hole. Dufner struck a 7-iron hole-high but 50 feet away. Dufner rolled his birdie try 12 feet past; his opponent's attempt was also too strong, but by only 5 feet. Dufner then missed his par attempt for a bogey, while Bradley made his par for a two-shot advantage heading into the final hole.

On the brutal, 506-yard, par-4 18th, Bradley hit a utility club safely into the middle of the fairway. Dufner took driver and also found the short grass. Bradley hit his approach 18 feet past the hole while, from 179 yards out, Dufner put his approach just outside of Bradley's. Putting first, Dufner rolled in his birdie try, forcing Bradley to two-putt for the win. Bradley's third stopped a foot out, and he calmly made par for the victory.

Bradley became the first player ever to win with a long putter; he uses a belly putter. After his final stroke disappeared into the hole, Bradley raised his arms in exultation. Later, after accepting the Wanamaker Trophy from PGA of America officials, he gave homage to his father, Mark Bradley, the head pro at Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club just outside of Jackson, Wyo.

"My Dad is a PGA professional and I'm sure he's proud of this," Bradley said. He also gave credit to Camilo Villegas and Phil Mickelson, who provided a much-needed confidence boost after Bradley fell down the leaderboard with a final-round 74 in last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Dufner had things well in hand in regulation after the 15th. Playing in the group ahead, Bradley hit his tee shot on the 260-yard, par-3 into the rough back-left of the green. But, with his ball settled into the deep grass, he chipped out and watched his second roll across the green and into the adjoining pond. Bradley then went to the drop area and, from around 100 yards, hit his fourth short of the hole and two-putted for a triple-bogey, temporarily giving Dufner a five-stroke lead.

But Dufner then stepped up to the 15th tee and hit a 5-wood into the drink. From the drop area, he put his ball to 15 feet and made the putt for bogey. But Bradley birdied the next two holes - the one on 17 came with a galvanizing, and unlikely, 35-foot putt, while Dufner bogeyed 16 and 17 to drop into a tie with the Vermont native. Both players parred the water-ringed, 507-yard 18th to finish at 8-under and set up the three-hole playoff.

"Those are pretty tough holes," Dufner said at greenside after the playoff about the closing stretch at Atlanta AC. "Playing (them) 3-over was tough. That's what decided the tournament." Dufner, who tied for fifth in last year's PGA Championship, is still looking for his first win on Tour.

Anders Hansen of Denmark took solo third at 273 after closing with a 4-under 66, while tied for fourth at 275 were Sweden's Robert Karlsson (67), Scott Verplank (70) and David Toms (67), the PGA champion when it was last held at Atlanta AC in 2001.

Adam Scott took seventh at 276 after a 70, while a stroke back at 277 were two Brits, No. 1-ranked Luke Donald and No. 2 Lee Westwood, who both had 68s. Two Americans, Kevin Na (67) and D.A. Points (71), tied for 10th at 278, while South African Trevor Immelman and Gary Woodland both had 68s and ended up at 279 along with Sergio Garcia (69), Bill Haas (69), Nick Watney (70), 2011 Masters' champion Charl Schwartzel (71) and first-round leader Steve Stricker (73).

The other 54-hole co-leader, Brendan Steele, had a final round to forget. The Californian closed with a 7-over 77 that included seven bogeys, a double-bogey (on the 18th), and an eagle on the par-5 12th. The 28-year-old from Idylwild fell ended up in a tie for 19th at even-par 280 with Brian Davis (69), Phil Mickelson (70), Ryan Palmer (70), Matt Kuchar (70), Hunter Mahan (70) and John Senden (72).

Playing with a right wrist that was injured on the third hole of the opening round, Rory McIlroy tied for 64th at 291 after closing with a 74.

Mike Small was the only club pro to make the weekend cut. The University of Illinois golf coach had a 78 Sunday to end up at 12-over 292.

For all the scores, visit http://www.pga.com/pgachampionship/2011/scoring/index.cfm.


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