User:Wmigda/Keegan Bradley wins his first major PGA title after playoff with Jason Dufner

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American Keegan Bradley defeated his fellow countryman Jason Dufner by one shot in a 3-hole aggregate score playoff on Sunday, August 14th, to win the 83rd PGA Championship. The tournament, one of the four mens professional grand slam championships, was held at the Atlanta Athletic Club Highlands Golf Course in Johns Creek, Georgia. After four days of play and 72 regulation holes both players finished with a score of 8 under, 272, but it was Bradley who kept his momentum and proved his skills over Dufner, who led after three rounds and for most of the Sunday's play.

25-year old Bradley, PGA Tour rookie, has won his first major title on his first attempt, repeating the feat achieved by Ben Curtis who won the 2003 Open Championship. With his victory Bradley has broken a streak of non-US winners in PGA major championships, which lasted since Phil Mickelson's triumph in the 2010 Masters.

Thursday's first round was marked by exceptional play by the 44-year old Steve Stricker. Stricker, highest ranked American in the world ranking, shot 7 birdies and 11 pars for a record-equaling round of 63. He held a two-shot advantage over another American Jerry Kelly. Tiger Woods, playing in only only second tournament after return from a break caused by a knee injury, failed to raise to spectators' and media expectations and shot dissapointing 77, his worst opening round in a major. Defending champion Martin Kaymer of Germany scored two over, 72, while the current U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy of North Ireland despite unjuring his wrist early in the round shot 70, just like reigning world's number one Englishman Luke Donald.

Second Round brought to the spotlight Bradley and Dufner, who after posting rounds of 64 and 65, respectively, became joint leaders with a one shot advantage over the rest of the field. Bradley's 64 was the best round of the day. Stricker, the overnight leader, dropped six places to be tied for seventh after a 74.

The cut was set at +4, and among those who missed it were defending champion Martin Kaymer (72-73), Tiger Woods (77-73), Dustin Johnson (75-72), and Ryo Ishikawa (85-72).

15th hole at the Highlands course
Image: Image: Mbrooks (Wikimedia Commons)..

After third round and shooting 68 Jason Dufner remained at the first position, but was joined by Brendan Steele of USA (66). Bradley shot 69 to drop to 3rd, one shot behind. With a day's best score of 65 David Toms, who won the PGA Championship ten years ago when it was last held by the Atlanta Athletic Club, raised to be joint eight.

During the final round joint leader Steele failed to deliver a good score and shot 77 to rule out any chances of him winning the title. On the other hand Dufner was making no mistakes shooting pars and birdies for the first 14 holes. At this point being four under for the day with four to play he held a four shot lead over the rest of the field and seemed a clear favourite for the title. His nearest competitors despite their best efforts were faltering over the closing stretch: Sweden's Robert Karlsson bogeyed all of his last three holes, American Scott Verplank double bogeyed the 17th, and Bradley made triple bogey 6 at the 15th after hitting his greenside chip into the water.

But then the fortune turned around and Dufner's steady play came to an end while Bradley made a run atop the leaderboard. Dufner's problems started at the par 3 15th where he's hit his shot into the water and managed to save a bogey. Then on the sixteenth he dropped another shot after finding a greenside buunker. On the 17th he three-putted for another bogey. Par at the last meant a playoff with Bradley, who in the meantime made an unlike charge after the disaster at the 15th. Bradley birdied the 16th after an approach shot within 8 feet from the flag. Then on the 17th he drowned a 40-feet putt for another birdie.

The aggregate score playoff was played over three holes 16-18. Bradley opened with a birdie after he placed his second shot 4 feet from the cup. Dufner did not match his opponent after he missed his own 8-foot birdie putt. On the next hole par 3 17th Bradley got away with a 2-putt par while Dufner three-putted for a bogey. On the last Dufner made his best to give himself a chance of prolonging the playoff and made a birdie. Bradley did not let it happen and after finding the green with his second shot he two-putted for a one shot playoff victory.


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