Keegan wins PGA in dramatic finish

Keegan Bradley won the first major he played in as he took the 93rd PGA Championship in a three-hole playoff from Jason Dufner in a dramatic final round at Atlanta Athletic Club.

He was five strokes behind Dufner with three holes to play down the stretch that had cruelly stopped many a player in his tracks throughout the week.

And that stretch had its way with Dufner, as the man who looked so assured on the front nine in the final round hit his tee shot in the water on the 15th for the first of three straight bogeys that led to the playoff.

Bradley had also looked like coming apart on 15 in regulation play: He saw his chip shot race across the green and into the water, leading to a triple-bogey.

However, he gritted his teeth and got ready to dig deep: “I remember walking off that green going, you know, the last four holes are so tough here that somebody be could have a five-shot lead. It doesn’t matter,” he said.

He went on to birdie 16 and 17, a rarity for anyone during the week, least of all the contenders in the final round.

“I just tried to steady myself on the tee and I hit the best drive of the week on 16. I absolutely hammered it,” he said. “I only had 153 yards to the pin and that’s the least I’ve had by 20 yards.

“Then on 17, it would be a putt that I’ll never forget the rest of my life. I scared it twice from long range earlier in the day, and I hit that putt and I kind of moved over and got in good position and that thing went in dead centre. It was unbelievable.”

And in the playoff, he birdied 16 to immediately put Dufner on the back foot. The pressure told and Dufner bogeyed 17. That was enough to give Bradley two putts for par and the championship on 18 and he relished the moment.

His first PGA Tour win came earlier this year, also in a playoff, and he made good use of that experience. “I kept thinking about the playoff that I won at the Byron Nelson, and the same thing happened to me – as soon as I realised I was going into a playoff, I completely calmed down,” he said.

With the 2009 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner Anders Hansen in third, South Africa’s best performances came from Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel.

The pair of Masters champions shared 12th, with Immelman finishing strongly with a two-under-par 68 for his tournament total of one-under-par.

When Schwartzel birdied the 10th in his final round, he moved to three-under for the tournament, and the stage was set for the kind of four-birdie charge he launched to win the Masters. But bogeys on 11 and 18 stymied him, and he slipped out of the promising eighth position he held going into the final round.

Rory Sabbatini brought up the rear of the field: His 15-over was good for a share of 74th with Shaun Micheel.

Ernie Els, Thomas Aiken and Louis Oosthuizen missed the cut, and Retief Goosen withdrew with injury.

So it was Bradley who ended America’s longest drought in a major in a streak that had reached six. He became only the third player in at least 100 years to win a major on his first try. His win makes it seven straight majors by players who had never before captured a Grand Slam event, the longest streak ever.

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