Not a bad tune-up for the first major championship defense of Keegan Bradley’s two-year PGA Tour career. With an improbable par from a plugged lie in a green-side bunker on the 72nd hole at Firestone Country Club, the reigning PGA champ fired a flawless, final-round 6-under 64 to stun 54-hole leader Jim Furyk and win the Bridgestone Invitational by one shot over Furyk and Steve Stricker.
Bradley, who won his third tour title, drilled a 16-footer for par as Furyk’s short game -- which propelled his game all week -- fell apart on the last hole. Furyk’s second shot found the rough in front of the bunker that buried Bradley’s ball, and his chip shot fell short of the green.
Furyk’s fourth shot left him a five-footer, which he needed to force a playoff, but the putt whizzed by the hole. Furyk, who said he was "still a little in shock ... I can’t quite fathom what I just did," explained what happened on the last flurry of shots that began with his ball sitting high in the rough and on a downhill lie.
"I caught it real high on the blade and didn’t have any power behind it; that’s why I dumped it there a little short," Furyk said after his final-round 69. "I grabbed a terrible lie and still had a very difficult up and down. I’m disappointed in the putt I hit. It was awful, to be honest with you."
Bradley took advantage of Furyk’s miscues and will try to ride the momentum into a successful defense of his PGA title next week at Kiawah Island Resort. With the victory and a bounce from ninth to fourth in the points standings, the 2011 Rookie of the Year also sealed a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team -- a goal that Bradley has been avidly chasing after failing to make last year’s Presidents Cup team.