AKRON, Ohio – Keegan Bradley never looked like a winner over four days and 71 holes at Firestone until he dropped in a 15-foot par putt on the final hole Sunday then watched Jim Furyk collapse on the final hole.
Two weeks after Adam Scott gave up a four-shot lead with four holes to play in the British Open, Furyk was poised to finish off a wire-to-wire win at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational until he made double bogey from the middle of the 18th fairway.
His 5-foot bogey putt to at least get into a playoff never had a chance, and he immediately dropped his putter and bent over with a mixture of shock and disgust.
“I led the golf tournament the entire way and lost it on the very last hole,” Furyk said. “To get that close and to know that I played more than good enough to win the golf tournament, and not close the door, is disappointing. It is a cruel game. I’ve lost some tournaments in some pretty poor fashions, but I don’t think I’ve let one ever slip nearly as bad as this one. This was my worst effort to finish off an event.”
Lost in his 18th hole collapse was a sterling performance by Bradley, who shot 31 on the back and came up with one clutch putt after another. None was bigger than the final stroke of his 6-under 64. After blasting out of a plugged lie in the bunker, he poured in a 15-foot putt for par that turned out to be the winner.
“I didn’t think for a second I was going to miss it,” Bradley said. “It was unbelievable. I got behind it, and I barely even had to read it. I knew the exact way it was going to break. I just needed to hit it hard enough. I knew that. And it was dead center.”
Furyk led by one shot playing the 18th and got a huge break when his tee shot bounced out of the trees to the left and back into the fairway. That’s where it all fell apart. His 7-iron went long, into a bunker and hopped out into the collar. He had to place his left foot in the sand to play a shot with the ball sitting up, and the delicate chip barely cleared the bunker and settled into more thick grass.
The chip for his fourth shot stopped 5 feet short of the pin, and the bogey putt was what Furyk called “my worst putt of the week.”
Here are the highlights of the final round:
Final-Round Leaderboard: Keegan Bradley, 67-69-67-64—267 (-13); Steve Stricker, 68-68-68-64—268 (-12); Jim Furyk, 63-66-70-69—268 (-12); Louis Oosthuizen, 67-65-68-69—269 (-11).
- Bradley earned his third PGA Tour victory with a final-round 6-under 64, erasing a four-stroke deficit to Jim Furyk at the beginning of the final round to win the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational by one stroke over Furyk (69) and Steve Stricker (64). Furyk was attempting to win in wire-to-wire fashion for the first time in his career, but a double bogey on the 72nd hole dashed his title hopes.
- Bradley other victories were the 2011 HP Byron Nelson Championship and the 2011 PGA Championship.
- At the age of 26 years, 1 month and 29 days in his 48th career start on Tour.
- Players under the age of 30 with three or more victories on the PGA Tour: Dustin Johnson (6), Anthony Kim (3), Rory McIlroy (3), Webb Simpson (3), Keegan Bradley (3).
- Becomes the third player (four times) to win the Bridgestone Invitational winner with four rounds in the 60s, joining Tiger Woods (2000-01) and Vijay Singh (2008).
- Collects 550 points and is projected to move from No. 25 to No. 7 in the FedExCup standings, with 1,522 points.
- Extends his fully-exempt status on the PGA TOUR through the 2017 season.
- Bradley becomes the fifth-youngest winner of a World Golf Championships event.
- The 2011 PGA Championship winner becomes the 10th player to capture both a World Golf Championships event and a major championship, joining Stewart Cink, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Geoff Ogilvy, Vijay Singh, David Toms, Mike Weir and Tiger Woods.
- Records the 23rd come-from-behind victory in 33 Tour events in 2012 (not counting the Reno Tahoe Open).
- Bradley, who began the year with 10 consecutive made cuts that included eight top-20 finishes as well as a playoff loss at the Northern Trust, had not finished in the top 20 in his last nine events and had missed three cuts during that stretch. His win was his fourth top 10 of the season (1-Bridgestone Invitational, P2-Northern Trust Open, T4-Shell Houston Open, T8-Cadillac Championship).
- Posts the sixth come-from-behind win in 14 Bridgestone Invitationals: Tiger Woods (2001, 2006-07, 2009-10).
- Four-stroke come-from-behind win tops the previous-largest at the Bridgestone: three strokes (Tiger Woods/2009, Hunter Mahan/2010).
- Bradley played in his fifth career World Golf Championships event this week, topping his previous-best finish at the 2012 Cadillac Championship (T8). He has finished inside the top 20 in all five starts (1-2012 Bridgestone Invitational, T8-2012 Cadillac Championship, T15-2011 Bridgestone, T16-2011 HSBC Champions, T17-2012 Accenture Match Play Championship).
- At last year’s Bridgestone Invitational, Bradley entered the final round just two shots off the lead and was one off the lead when he made the turn, but a back-nine 41 left him with a T15 finish.
- Becomes the 23rd different winner of a World Golf Championships event.
- Becomes the 12th player in his 20s to win this season, earning the 13th win by that group. This is compared to 14 winners in their 30s (18 wins) and three in their 40s (3 wins).
- His final-round 64 equals the third-lowest finish by a winner this season, behind only Marc Leishman’s 62 at the Travelers Championship and John Huh’s 63 at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
- A double bogey on the final hole cost Jim Furyk the first wire-to-wire win of his 19-year PGA TOUR career (and first on the PGA Tour since Rory McIlroy won the 2011 U.S. Open.
- The 16-time PGA Tour winner now owns 24 runner-up and 13 third-place finishes in his career (476 starts).Furyk was seeking to become the second-oldest winner of a World Golf Championships event.
- Furyk records his eighth top-10 finish in 13 starts at the Bridgestone, second only to Tiger Woods’ 11. He also finished runner-up in 2001, where he lost to Woods in a seven-hole playoff.
- Runner-up finish comes in his 37th World Golf Championships start, equaling runner-up finishes at the 2001 Bridgestone and 2008 Cadillac Championship.
- The 2010 FedExCup champion finishes runner-up in his 18th start of the season, with a playoff loss at the Transitions Championship and runner-up at the Bridgestone Invitational the best of his five top-10 finishes.
- Furyk is now 10 of 21 when carrying the lead into the final round on the PGA Tour (note: one of the 21 included the 54-hole 1998 Buick Classic, which he won in a playoff):
- The runner-up finish is the 11th of Stricker’s career, to go with 12 wins and 10 third-place finishes.
- The 2001 Accenture Match Play Championship winner was seeking to become the seventh player to win multiple World Golf Championships events: Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy and Tiger Woods.
- A victory would have made Stricker the only player with multiple PGA Tour wins in each of the last four seasons.
- Oosthuizen finished fourth in his quest to become the first South African to win the Bridgestone Invitational and the first to win a PGA Tour event at Firestone Country Club since David Frost in 1989. The only South African to win a World Golf Championships event was Ernie Els (2004 & 2010 Cadillac Championship).
- In his 11th World Golf Championships stroke-play event, this is the first time that Oosthuizen has shot four consecutive rounds in the 60s. His previous-best finish at a World Golf Championships event came at the 2011 HSBC Champions, where he finished T7.
- Oosthuizen’s lone PGA Tour win came at the 2010 British Open. A win this week would have made him only the second player in history to record his first two PGA Tour wins at a major championship and a World Golf Championships event (Martin Kaymer, 2010 PGA Championship, 2011 HSBC Champions).
- McIlroy finished T5 for his sixth consecutive top-10 finish in a World Golf Championships event, the longest active streak. Tiger Woods’ eight consecutive top-10s is the most in World Golf Championships history. He has done it twice in his career.
- McIlroy’s last six World Golf Championships: 2012 Bridgestone Invitational, T5; Cadillac Championship, 3; 2012 Accenture Match Play Championship, 2; 2011 HSBC Champions T4; 2011 Bridgestone Invitational, T6; 2011 Cadillac Championship, T10
- Coupled with his T3 at the British Open, Woods (T8) records back-to-back top 10s in a season for first time since winning the 2009 BMW Championship and finishing runner-up at the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola.
- Woods finished T8 to snap a streak of three consecutive World Golf Championships starts without a top-10 finish, the longest streak of his career in World Golf Championships events. Prior to Sunday, his last top 10 in a World Golf Championships event came at the 2011 Cadillac Championship (T10).
- Woods, the current FedExCup leader, owns the most top-10 finishes at the Bridgestone Invitational (11), seven of which are victories.
- Woods has dominated the World Golf Championships events since their inception, yet has not won one since the 2009 Bridgestone Invitational. In fact, the 2010 season was the first in which Woods failed to capture a World Golf Championships title. Regardless, Woods’ record 16 World Golf Championships event titles in his 39 starts gives him a winning percentage of 41.03 in the series.
- Bo Van Pelt and Matt Kuchar finished T8 for their PGA Tour-leading eighth top-10 finish of the season.
- Charl Schwartzel equaled the lowest final-round in Bridgestone history with a 7-under 63, finishing T24. Stewart Cink also posted a 63 during the final round in 2000 to finish seventh.
- Bubba Watson finished T19 in his bid to join Tiger Woods as the only players to win the Masters and the Bridgestone Invitational in the same year (2001, 2005).
- Adam Scott finished T45 as he sought to join Tiger Woods (1999-2001, 2005-07) as the only players to successfully defend at the Bridgestone Invitational. Last year, Scott became the third Australian to win a World Golf Championships event, joining Geoff Ogilvy (2006 and 2009 Accenture Match Play Championship) and Craig Parry (2002 Bridgestone Invitational).
- Ernie Els finished T45 in his bid to join Tiger Woods (2000, 2005, 2006) as the only players to win the Bridgestone Invitational in the same season as winning the British Open.
- Lee Westwood, who has appeared in more World Golf Championships than any other player (40), finished 70th.