Bae holds off Bradley to capture 1st title at Nelson


On a warm, breezy day outside Dallas, Sang-Moon Bae steadied himself after a rocky seven-hole stretch to win the HP Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday for his first career PGA Tour title. Here is the skinny on the final round at TPC Las Colinas:

The leaderboard: Sang-Moon Bae (-13), Keegan Bradley (-11), Charl Schwartzel (-10), Justin Bolli (-9)

What it means: It’s a breakthrough victory for the 26-year-old Bae, who had won 11 times worldwide before his life-changing week at the Nelson. Last year, the South Korean lost in a playoff in Tampa, then struggled the rest of the way, posting just one top-30 finish in his next 17 starts. He hasn’t fared much better this season, with only one top-25 finish in 13 previous starts. With the victory, however, he is the third first-time winner at the Nelson in the past four years, following Jason Day (2010) and Bradley (2011).

Round of the day: Bae (69) made four birdies in the first seven holes, including three in a row on Nos. 5-7, to build a four-shot lead over Bradley. He would need that cushion, after making double bogey on No. 9 after finding the hazard. A two-shot swing ensued on 15, when Bae bogeyed and Bradley buried a 20-footer for birdie. But Bae’s up-and-down from short of the par-5 16th proved the decisive stroke.

Best of the rest: Quietly, Justin Bolli carded a bogey-free 65 to rocket 15 spots up the leaderboard and finish solo fourth, his best career finish on Tour. And on the same day that former Oklahoma State teammate Peter Uihlein won overseas, Morgan Hoffmann completed a 66-66 weekend for a T-5 finish. 

Biggest disappointment: It was a rollercoaster day for Bradley (72), who began the final round with a one-stroke lead. He never looked comfortable all day, however, and quickly dropped four shots behind on the opening nine. He managed to reclaim a share of the lead on 15, after his first birdie of the day, but misplayed two shots down the stretch that cost him the title: a 4-foot lip-out on 16 and an airmailed tee shot into the par-3 17th. Honorable mention goes to Charl Schwartzel, who despite missing his fair share of putts during the final round found himself one shot off the lead as he stood on 18 tee. He proceeded to make bogey, after his approach was buried in a greenside bunker.

Shot of the day: The 5-foot birdie putt on 16 allowed Bae to regain the lead from Bradley and finish two shots clear.

Quote of the day: “This course was really tough, the wind was very strong, but I did very well this week.” – Bae