Aug. 14, 2011
Johns Creek, Ga. (August 14) - Keegan Bradley will go down as one of the greatest golfers to ever play for the Red Storm, and now will go down in the PGA Tour record books after winning the 93rd PGA Championship to claim his first career major.
There were times throughout the round that it seemed like the title was out of Bradley's grasp, but thanks to a strong finish, the Wanamaker trophy is now his.
"Keegan deserves every second of winning he gets," former STJ teammate Mike Ballo Jr. said. "This is a great moment for him, and the whole St. John's family."
With Bradley collecting his second win of the summer in just his rookie season, there have been plenty of reasons to smile around the St. John's family.
"This is one of those moments that really validates what you're doing as a coaching staff," STJ men's golf coach Frank Darby said. "A lot of people have been trying to figure out what we do over here because of Keegan's success and Andrew Svoboda on the Nationwide tour. This is one thing that proves we're doing it the right way."
Wearing St. John's red and white on Sunday, Bradley started the day one back of leaders Brendan Steele and Jason Dufner, but birdied his first hole to tie for the lead early on.
Throughout the front nine, Bradley took the lead several times and then relinquished it. While Steele fell apart early, Dufner was the model of consistency, playing bogey-free golf through the first 14 holes.
Then on the fifteenth hole, Bradley found himself two strokes off the pace. After an errant chip shot landed in the water, Bradley settled for a triple bogey and was five strokes behind with three holes to play.
"I knew that it was going to be tough for him to get out of that, but I knew anything could happen," former St. John's teammate Evan Beirne said. "I know the type of player the Keegan is, and I knew that no matter what, he wasn't going to give up."
Bradley, playing in his first career major championship as a rookie, then found the composure of a seasoned veteran, birdieing the 16th and 17th holes, while Dufner bogeyed 15, 16 and 17. The two men then found themselves in a three-hole playoff, each trying to claim their first major title.
"Once it went to a playoff, I knew Keegan was going to win," Beirne said. "All the credit in the world to his parents, coach Darby, and everyone that helped him get to this point in his career, it's unbelievable."
In the playoff, Bradley made a 4-foot birdie at the 16th hole to gain the upper hand. Dufner nearly holed out from the fairway, but missed a 6-foot birdie try.
"When they got to that playoff, it was over," Darby said. "Keegan had his head up, and he had that look about him. I've seen him have that look many times before, and you just know that he's focused on winning."
Bradley was in command by two shots when Dufner three-putted the 17th for a bogey. Dufner made birdie at the tough finishing hole but it wasn't enough. Bradley tapped in from a foot away to claim the Wanamaker Trophy by a single stroke.
After a win at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in May, Bradley had experienced winning in a playoff, moving his record to 2-0 in playoffs for his career.
"What he's doing, as a young player this summer, is the most impressive thing in golf today," Ballo said. "Over the past six months, winning in Texas, and now a major title, he's been the best American golfer on tour the last six months."
Bradley now turns to the remainder of the season, and in many peoples eyes, when the Masters rolls around in April, the newly minted major champion will be a serious contender.
"He's going to want to keep going, and winning, and getting better, that's just the type of person he is," Darby said. "He's now going to be in serious contention for the President's Cup team, possibly even the Ryder Cup team, and there's no telling how far he can go."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.