Keegan Bradley has been in a bit of a slump this 2012 PGA Tour Season. After his huge start and a loss in a playoff with Phil Mickelson and Bill Hass at Rivera and the Northern Trust Open, Keegan has been relatively quite. Sure he has had a few top tens, and he has been up there on Ryder Cup points, but every Sunday of late that he has been in the mix, he has fallen short, and very short. But not this weekend, not on the cusp of defending his PGA Championship title, Keegan roars back into the spotlight with a win right before golf’s “last chance at glory”.
With plenty of hot golfers sneaking up on Jim Furyk (our 54 hole leader), Mr. Furyk held off the competition with a birdie on 16 and what seemed like a relatively easy walk into the clubhouse with a few pars and the World Golf Championship win at Firestone. However the Golf Gods decided that it was not Jim’s day, but Keegans. Now Keegan did shoot 64, with a gutsy par on the last hole from the greenside bunker, and a encore birdie on the par 5 16th (Jim Furyk nailed his birdie putt from about 20+ feet, and Keegan rolled his 15 footer right in on top of him). Even though Keegan played great all day, and kept putting the pressure on Furyk, Furk ultimately lost this tournament. When you make a double bogey six on the 72nd hole, you lost the tournament it wasn’t stolen from you.
Just right and long of the green with his second, Jim was in the rough outside of the greenside bunker. With a good amount of green to work with, he pulled the ultimate golf vomit…leave your chip shot over a bunker short. Almost worse than leaving it in the bunker, Jim left his chip shot short in the fluffy rough between the bunker and the green, making his fourth shot even harder than if he would have just flubbed the chip and left it in the bunker. After Keegan hits his third out of the same bunker Jim was trying to chip over to roughly 12 feet, Jim gets up and knocks his fourth a few feet from the hole. Keegan makes his par putt, forcing Jim yet again to answer him, and Jim not only doesn’t answer but doesn’t even sniff the hole. Unlike a major champion to miss the hole on a 4 footer to force a playoff. Jims downfall is Keegans gain though. Jim Furyk said he could not remember a tougher defeat in his PGA TOUR career. He doubled the last hole to lose by one. As Furyk walked to the scoring trailer, his family gathered around for a group hug and there were some tears.
Earning his first World Golf Challenge victory and his 3rd PGA Tour win on the eve of his defense of golf’s final Major, the golfing world has to ask is this win a blessing or a curse. Not many players are able to defend their Major Championship, not many can win two weeks in a row (especially before a major championship). Do two wrongs make a right though? If you win the week before your defense is that a sign that you have doubled your chances of not winning. OR do you think that if you have two bad golfing stats going into a major that they on another out…? Only time will tell as we enter the Monday before a Major.
Final note on Keegans final round on Sunday at Firestone. Did Bradley win this tournament or did Furyk lose it? Bradley definitely putted his way to victory in the final round. He took 26 putts on Sunday, one-putting the last three greens. For the week, he was third in strokes gained-putting. Bradley made a birdie from 41 feet on the seventh green and saved par from 16 feet on the final hole. He made 169 feet worth of putts on Sunday. There is no substitute for a hot putter.