Fiery Keegan Bradley parred the only hole needed in a sudden-death playoff on Monday to outlast Justin Rose of England at the rain-delayed BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Penn. and win for the first time in six years.
Rose, who had a 67 in the final round, and Bradley, who fired a scintillating 64 on Monday, went back to the 18th tee for a sudden-death playoff after both bogeyed the closing hole to finish at 20 under 260 after 72 holes.
Both Bradley and Rose missed the green to the right on the playoff hole. Bradley played first and chipped to within two feet. Rose chose to putt his ball and left himself a knee-knocking five-footer, which he missed, allowing Bradley to tap in for the victory
The event is the third of four tournaments in the PGA Tour’s end-of-year FedEx Cup Playoffs and featured a field of 69 players from the top of the playoff standings.
The top 30 in the standings after this event earned spots in the season-ending Tour Championship, to be played Sept. 20-23 at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner, captured his fourth PGA Tour title and won for the first time since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2012. He also earned his first trip to the Tour Championship in five years.
It was Bradley’s first victory in 160 events.
“I felt so calm out there today,” he told the Golf Channel. “I came out today, I just felt great. I don’t normally love looking at leaderboards, but I watched them all day. And it was just my day, it feels so good.
“It was a hard road back, but it feels good.”
Bradley ripped off three birdies in a four-hole stretch coming home to grab the lead but bogeyed the closing hole. He was steady throughout the cold and drizzly final round and had a one-stroke lead when he got to the 18th tee. Finally giving into his nerves, he bogeyed the hole and fell out of the lead, only to stand by and watch Rose drop a shot on the final hole as well.
Despite finishing second, Rose ascended to No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings, becoming the 22nd player to hold the position since it was introduced in 1986 and the fourth player from England to claim that perch, joining Sir Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.
“It’s boyhood dreams,” he told the Golf Channel of passing Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka for the No. 1 ranking. “This dream that we’ve all thought about at some point in our lives. Young, aspiring golfers think about it.
“It’s a slow burn, and that would be my advice to guys kinda grinding it out out here, kids still trying to make their way. I turned pro at 18 – it took me 20-odd years to get to No. 1. The quest to get better is what I really wake up for in the morning … and what gets me out of bed.”
Billy Horschel was tied with Bradley and Rose for the lead for the better part of the back nine on Monday before finishing with a 64 and in third place at 19 under along with Xander Schauffele (67).
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland ended up fifth at 18 under after a 68 in which he hit the ball well from tee to green but continually missed makeable putts.
The final round was pushed back from Sunday to Monday because of constant rain that led to poor course conditions. It was the third unplanned Monday finish on the PGA Tour this season.
Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their ball in the course’s closely mown areas.
Rose led by one shot over Schauffele and McIlroy after 54 holes and would have been declared the winner here if the tournament could not have been finished, which — until early Monday morning — was a real possibility. But he had to go out and earn the victory, and he almost did, basically handing the title to Bradley with poor play on the final hole of regulation and in the playoff.
“I’m disappointed right now,” Rose said. “To bogey the 72nd hole and then to do it again in a playoff is obviously not going to be that happy about. Obviously a big consolation being world No. 1. That’s something that I will look back on this week and think that it was an incredible achievement and an incredible moment.
“Obviously, a big consolation being world No. 1. That’s something that I will look back on this week and think that it was an incredible achievement and an incredible moment.”
Current Player Championship titleholder Webb Simpson (a final-round 65), and 14-time major champion Tiger Woods (65) tied for sixth at 17 under, three shots off the winning pace.
Of the 70 golfers eligible for the event, only Daniel Berger (who entered the week ranked 65th) did not compete. England’s Paul Casey withdrew from the tournament on Monday due to back pain but still qualified for Tour Championship.
The last three golfers to qualify for the Tour Championship were, Gary Woodland (28th), Australia’s Marc Leishman (29th) and Patton Kizzire (30th). The first three not to make the trip to East Lake in two weeks were world No. 10 Jordan Spieth (31st), Emiliano Grillo of Argentina (32nd), and Andrew Putnam (33rd).
Spieth is the only member of this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team to miss out on the Tour Championship, and he faces a $20,000 fine and three-tournament suspension for failing to compete in 25 events this season. He has competed in 23, and can only get to 24 after missing the top 30.
Bradley will be at East Lake in Atlanta next week, a satisfying reward after falling as low as No. 122 in the world since his last victory.
“You go so long without seeing results, and then when they finally come it’s all worth it,” he said. “All the hours of practice, all of the belly putter stuff, all of that … it’s just all worth it.
“It’s crazy. I was just fighting to make the Tour Championship today, really. Now I got a chance, with a good week, who knows?
–Field Level Media