The PGA Cham­pi­onships

Inside Golf - - PGA - An­tho­ny­powter

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

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