The PGA Championships
ARRIVING at the Atlanta Athletic Club, the venue for the 2011 PGA Championship, all the talk was around Steve Williams’ comments the Sunday before about Adam Scott’s win at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Williams had created a firestorm by remarking about it being the most satisfying week of his career even though he was on the bag for 13 of the 14 major championships won by Tiger Woods. There was little focus about golf with the foreign media more interested in the perceived damage done by Williams’ remarks to Woods.
There’s often too much attention on Woods in the US and the fact he missed the cut with rounds of 77-73, had the attention back to the golf. It was a welcome change and the resulting golf was fantastic.
Even though it was no-names atop the PGA Championship leader board, Sunday’s final round had as much drama as any other major with eagles, triple bogeys, holed bunker shots, long birdie putts and a riveting threehole playoff. Despite boasting the best overall field in golf every year, the PGA has produced several no-names as champion, including the likes of Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem and YE Yang.
Keegan Bradley fits right in, but since he’s just a rookie on the PGA Tour, we will follow his career with interest to see what else he can produce. Bradley certainly showed he can produce the lot during the week in Atlanta. The Red shirt, fist pumps, screams of joy, all stuff which got the fans going.
Bradley was a great entertainer and dug deep to secure his first major.
It was a rally that ranks among the best. A collapse hardly anyone saw coming. The Atlanta Athletic Club and its punishing par 3’s, no more that the 260 yard 15th, gave us everything we wanted.
Bradley was five shots behind with only three holes to play after his chip shot raced across the 15th green and into the water, leading to a triple bogey. It led to one of the most stunning turnarounds in a major. Bradley made back-to-back birdies, including a 35-footer with a belly putter that nailed the cup on the 17th.
Then c ame a monumental meltdown, or choke as some called it, by Jason Dufner. Unflappable all afternoon, he hit his tee shot in the water on the 15th for the first of three straight bogeys that led to a threehole playoff. To say he looked like a battered man would be understating the obvious, but to his credit he held his head high and finished on a high note on the 18th sinking a monstrous putt, but it came too late.
Bradley had become only the third player in at least 100 years to win a major championship in his first try.
Holding back his emotions during the presentation, Bradley was coming to grips of his accomplishment. He’d won a major, life as he knew it was to change forever.
Bradley, a 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie who was ranked number 108 in the world, ended America’s longest drought in a major that had reached six. The US fans were roaring that a local had claimed a major when the Europeans Anders Hanson and Robert Karlsson had looked threatening to keep the US major drought going.
It was a gripping playoff and the focus had returned to the golf. The “Wiliamsgate” affair had been forgotten, Tiger had been back in Florida contemplating what to do for the next five weeks having missed the cut —and with that the opportunity to qualify for the FedEx play-off series — and a new wave of young guns in Dufner and Bradley had proven their worth.
Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championships