IRVING, Texas (AP)—When the local teenage amateur playing with KeeganBradley hit an approach inside 5 feet on the 10th hole during the final round ofthe Byron Nelson Championship, there was a loud roar from the large galleryfollowing their group.
Bradley then got his even closer.
“There was two claps,” said Bradley, who went on to his first PGA Tourvictory.
Bradley’s last birdie of the day that got him to 3 under didn’t rouse muchexcitement from the crowd more interested in 17-year-old Jordan Spieth .Other Popular Sports Stories
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But the nephew of LPGA great Pat Bradley finished with eight consecutivepars after that on Sunday, then had to wait about an hour before winning aone-hole playoff over Ryan Palmer with a 2-foot par putt.
The PGA Tour rookie, a Vermont native and former St. John’s golfer who nevereven won on the Nationwide Tour, got his first professional victory nine daysbefore his 25th birthday. Bradley’s aunt won 31 tournaments, including sixmajors.
“She is a lot calmer on the golf course than she is watching me. I’m sureshe was by the TV going crazy,” Bradley said. “I talk to her regularly throughtext messages and phone calls about tournaments and what it’s like to come downnear the end. … This is the closest thing we ever had in common in terms ofplaying.”
Bradley (68) and Palmer (72) finished 3-under 277, the highest final scoreon the PGA Tour this year and highest in relation to par in a non-major since1999. It was the fifth playoff in six weeks and 10th overall.
Ryuji Imada and Joe Ogilvie (70) finished a stroke back at 2 under.Defending Nelson champion Jason Day (67) finished fifth at 1 under—the lastplayer who finished under par this week at TPC Four Seasons.
There were brutal scoring conditions, particularly for both weekend roundswhen the wind was sustained at 25 mph with gusts howling near 40.
When Bradley sank a 12-foot par-saving putt on No. 17, he responded with anemphatic fist pump. He dropped into a squat and hopped a few times infrustration when his 10-foot birdie chance at No. 18 slid by the hole.
Third-round leader Palmer and Imada were still among the five groups stillplaying when Bradley tapped in his first par putt at No. 18.
But the playoff almost wasn’t necessary for Bradley to become the PGA Tour’ssixth first-time winner this season.
Imada was 5 under after his 11-foot birdie putt trickled in at the 170-yard13th, then blasted out of a greenside bunker to inside a foot at 14th to savepar. But he bogeyed three of his last four holes, including a 3-foot par miss atNo. 17.
Palmer shot from a greenside bunker to 3 feet for a birdie at the 523-yard16th hole to get back to 3 under, but gave that stroke right back when he misseda 7-foot par at No. 17. There was only one birdie all day at No. 18 beforePalmer sank a 6-footer to force the playoff.
“I knew as long as I kept grinding and grinding I could give myself achance to win,” said Palmer, a Texas native who missed the cut in six of hisfirst seven Nelson appearances. “I’m proud to come to a golf course I’vestruggled on and finish second, and also a little disappointed to lose aplayoff.”
The playoff at No. 18 began with Bradley and Palmer both hitting their teeshots way right.
Tournament volunteers quickly dismantled and moved a temporary lemonadestand to give Bradley a line of sight to the green. His approach still camedangerously close to sliding off the side of the green into the water.
Palmer went in the same direction, but his ball got wet and he eventuallymade a 13-foot bogey.
Spieth was still in the top 10 before two double bogeys and two bogeys inhis final four holes for a closing 77.
“I was humbled by this back nine,” Spieth said. “I’m focused on collegenow. Had I won today, who knows, but I’m focused now on the next step. This willsink in, and I’m sure it will sink in in a positive way.”
Spieth, who is going to the University of Texas this fall, made the Nelsoncut for the second year in a row. He finished 6 over and tied for 32nd place,which was 10 strokes higher than last year when he was tied for 16th.
Only Day with 22 birdies had more than Spieth’s 20 this week. But Spieth,who missed his high school graduation ceremony Saturday because of the Nelson,also had 20 holes over par (14 bogeys, and six double bogeys).
Sergio Garcia , the 2004 Nelson champion who hasn’t won since 2008 and hasn’tlocked up spots this year in the U.S. Open and British Open, began the day onestroke off the lead.
Garcia slammed his putter down on his bag after missing a 4-foot par puttthe opening hole. Things only got worse in a closing 77, including adouble-bogey 6 at No. 4 when he needed four shots to go the final 12 feet aftera chip shot rolled back to his feet.
Day, the Masters’ runner-up this year, had his fourth top-10 finish in hispast five tournaments. Before closing with consecutive pars, he was even over astretch of seven holes without a par. There was a birdie at No. 10 beforeconsecutive bogeys, a birdie, a double bogey and then consecutive birdies.
“If I didn’t make those mental errors on the back nine I would probably besitting here at 4 under,” Day said. “But, hey, I played great today, and I’mnot too disappointed.”