By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio – In a dramatic reversal of fortunes, Keegan Bradley got up and down from a buried lie in the greenside bunker on the final hole to beat Jim Furyk and win the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday.
Bradley, who was in contention at Firestone a year ago until closing with a 41, had to make a 16-footer to save par on the 72nd hole. Once the ball started tracking toward the hole, there was no doubt it would find the bottom of the cup.
“I just kept telling myself that this is the exact moment that I live for, that you play golf for, that you grow up your whole life, and I'm living it,” Bradley said. “It's just an amazing feeling to be in that moment and just loving every second of it.
“I didn't think for a second I was going to miss it. It was unbelievable. I got behind it, and I barely even had to read it. I knew the exact way it was going to break. I just needed to hit it hard enough. I knew that. And it was dead center.”
Bradley, who will defend his PGA title next week at Kiawah Island, ended up shooting a bogey-free 64 to seal the victory and lock up the spot he so covets on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
But Furyk, who had led since opening with a 63, actually was one ahead when the two came to the final hole. His second shot landed in the right rough above the same bunker Bradley would later find.
Furyk’s chip surprisingly settled in the rough again, landing short of the green. Bradley blasted out past the pin before Furyk finally found the putting surface with his fourth shot, the ball stopping 5 feet shy.
Bradley then poured in his putt and celebrated with a fist pump. Furyk’s putt to force a playoff slid 5 feet by and he had to make that coming back to save a share of second with Steve Stricker, who birdied his final three holes to match Bradley’s 64 in the final round.
"I think right now just a little bit in shock with the way I finished up,” Furyk said after the round. “I turned a 5 into a 6 and lost the golf tournament on the last hole. There's no way I should have made double bogey.”
Only 10 of 33 third-round leaders have gone on to win on the PGA TOUR this year.
“I feel horrible for Jim,” Stricker said. “He led 71 holes, and then just had a bad last hole. It's a cruel game sometimes.”