‘One of the best birdies of my life’: The bounce-back hole that led to Keegan Bradley’s win

Keegan Bradley picked up his fifth career PGA Tour victory over the weekend.

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Keegan Bradley was coming off a “bizarre” 16th hole — his words — and his momentum was slipping. It was his second bogey in three holes and suddenly he was tied for the Zozo Championship lead with Andrew Putnam. Rickie Fowler, who was as thirsty for a win as Bradley, was one back.

Yet Bradley didn’t let the wheels fall off. He turned a shanked bunker shot on the par-3 16th into a key two-putt to limit the damage to a bogey. And then came his rebound on 17 — which he called “one of the best birdies of my life.”

Tied with Putnam on the 17th tee, Bradley found the fairway on the par-4 and had 152 yards remaining. He stuck it to about 15 feet and then made the big left-to-right breaker. It turned out to be good for a two-shot lead, since Putnam made bogey on 17.

“I kind of realized if I make this putt, I’ve got a two-shot lead going down 18, which I thought, Boy, that would be nice to have two there, and I just buried it,” Bradley said. “It’s just a perfect putt, meant to be, and I’m proud of the way I handled that hole.”

Fowler and Putnam both birdied the par-5 18th and Bradley parred, but it didn’t matter. Bradley’s two-shot cushion he created on the 17th was enough for the one-shot win at 15 under — his first victory since the 2018 BMW Championship.

“I’ve never done that, I don’t think, ever — I shanked one out of the bunker,” Bradley said. “But I stayed really calm. That two-putt on 16 was huge and that birdie on 17 is one of the best birdies of my life and one that when I think back on this tournament, that’s the pivotal hole. I was never going to give up or let in and I knew I was still in a good spot to win the tournament.”


Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

Josh Berhow is the managing editor at GOLF.com. The Minnesota native graduated with a journalism degree from Minnesota State University in Mankato. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.