Bradley snatches WGC from Furyk on 72nd hole

By Doug FergusonAugust 5, 2012, 10:24 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Keegan Bradley never looked like a winner over four days and 71 holes at Firestone until he poured in a 15-foot par putt on the final hole Sunday.

Given the way golf has gone this year, no one should have been surprised.

Two weeks after Adam Scott gave up a four-shot lead with four holes to play in the British Open, Jim Furyk was poised to finish off a wire-to-wire win at the Bridgestone Invitational until he made double bogey from the middle of the 18th fairway.

His 5-foot bogey putt to at least get into a playoff never had a chance, and he immediately dropped his putter and bent over with a mixture of shock and disgust.

''I led the golf tournament the entire way and lost it on the very last hole,'' Furyk said. ''To get that close and to know that I played more than good enough to win the golf tournament, and not close the door, is disappointing. It is a cruel game. I've lost some tournaments in some pretty poor fashions, but I don't think I've let one ever slip nearly as bad as this one. This was my worst effort to finish off an event.''

Lost in his 18th hole collapse was a sterling performance by Bradley, who shot 31 on the back and came up with one clutch putt after another. None was bigger than the final stroke of his 6-under 64. After blasting out of a plugged lie in the bunker, he poured in a 15-foot putt for par that turned out to be the winner.

''I didn't think for a second I was going to miss it,'' Bradley said. ''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.''

Furyk led by one shot playing the 18th and got a huge break when his tee shot bounced out of the trees to the left and back into the fairway. That's where it all fell apart. His 7-iron went long, into a bunker and hopped out into the collar. He had to place his left foot in the sand to play a shot with the ball sitting up, and the delicate chip barely cleared the bunker and settled into more thick grass.

The chip for his fourth shot was a clunker, stopping 5 feet short of the pin, and the bogey putt was what Furyk called ''my worst putt of the week.''

Bradley won for the third time in his career, his last win coming a year ago at the PGA Championship. He became the 11th player to win a major and a World Golf Championship, and the win moved him to No. 4 in the Ryder Cup standings. With one week left to grab one of eight spots, he's all but assured of making his first team.

''My hope standing on the 18th tee was to make birdie and maybe force a playoff,'' Bradley said. ''But you know, just from being out here, you just never know what's going to happen.''

It was the 11th time this year - and fourth time in the last five weeks - that the winner came from at least four shots behind in the final round.

The ending was devastating for Furyk in so many ways.

He was tied for the lead at the U.S. Open with three holes to play when he hooked his tee shot on the 16th hole, made bogey and never caught up. This time, he was in control at Firestone from his opening 63, all the way through the final round when he started with three straight birdies and made an 18-foot birdie on the 16th to seemingly hold off the late charge by Bradley.

''I have no one to blame but myself,'' Furyk said. ''But when things go wrong, it's an empty feeling. I'm disappointed. I walked over, my boy is crying right after the round. And I guess it reminds you as an adult - as a parent - that you have to act the proper way. You have to do and say the right things to try to give the right lessons.

''But there's no way I should have made any worse than 5 on the last hole,'' he said. ''There's no way I should have done worse than a playoff.''

He went from what appeared to be a certain win to a 69 and a tie for second with Steve Stricker, who made four birdies on his last five holes for a 64.

Bradley was four shots behind going into the final round, and was six shots back when Furyk opened with three straight birdies. Bradley kept pecking away at the lead, holing a 25-foot birdie putt on the seventh, scrambling for par on the 12th, and starting the back nine with a pair of birdies.

Furyk finally answered with an 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th, only for Bradley to follow him in for birdie from 12 feet. Bradley took only 12 putts on the back nine, including par saves on the final two holes.

He finished on 13-under 267.

Stricker found his putting stroke at Firestone - not that it was ever deep in hiding - and showed that down the stretch with his closing stretch of birdies. It was an important performance for Stricker, who moved up three spots to No. 10 in the Ryder Cup standings. Furyk is No. 11, followed by Rickie Fowler at No. 12.

Louis Oosthuizen closed with a 69 to finish alone in fourth. Justin Rose (67) and Rory McIlroy (68) were another shot behind.

Tiger Woods played bogey-free for a 66, his lowest score since a 65 in the second round at Bay Hill at the end of March. He was never in the tournament, 11 shots behind going into the final round, though he picked up the tiniest of consolations. He now has back-to-back finishes in the top 10 on the PGA Tour for the first time in nearly three years. And he at least heads to Kiawah Island feeling good about his game.

''I hit a lot of good shots and never really sniffed making a bogey all day,'' said Woods, who played his final 23 holes without a bogey. ''I feel very good about where I'm at. I'm excited about it.''

The nature of the course changed drastically with a quarter-inch of rain overnight, and a burst of showers that stopped play for nearly three hours Sunday morning. Shots to the green were spinning back instead of bouncing forward. Pars no longer were good enough.

Furyk picked up on that quickly, and came out even stronger than he did on Saturday. He dropped only one shot when he drove to the right into the trees on No. 6 and missed a 10-footer for par. He was rarely in jeopardy the rest of the way until he found himself in the middle of the fairway on the final hole, needing a par to win.

Instead, he watched someone else take home the $1.4 million first prize.

''Keegan played a heck of a back nine,'' Furyk said. ''He did everything he needed to do to win the golf tournament. I felt like I did the same, until the 18th hole.''

Getty Images

Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

Getty Images

McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

Getty Images

What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x