Bradley Refuses To Be Knocked Out

Posted by Robert on Aug 16

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You might be a golf geek if:  you were jumping up and down on your couch at 3 a.m. screaming, “GO KEEGAN!!! GO KEEGAN!!! IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!!”

(Pardon my punctuation this morning, but I’m still groggy from staying up all night watching the PGA Championship on my DVR.)

If you missed it, you just passed up the most exciting major in the post Dirk Tig-ler era. I haven’t been this glued to the television screen since John Daly (and his mullet) won the PGA in 1991.

Let me set it up for you. Two rookies -- Jason (Pokerface) Dufner and Keegan (Grande Triple Mocha No-room) Bradley -- battled for the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Keegan, playing one hole ahead of Jason, came to the meat of the course trailing by a couple of strokes. Holes 15 through 18 were impossible, and Dufner was the only one all week that seemed completely undaunted by these mine fields (playing them -3 while the field played them in +a trillion). But Dufner seemed like he’d be undisturbed by shock therapy. It was amazing; this guy hasn’t ever won a tournament, let alone a major, but he persisted on striping fairways and dropping in 20-foot putts like he was out on the practice green, and his expression never changed.

Meanwhile, Keegan was living and dying on every swing of the club. At #15, a par-3 protected on one side by water and fire-breathing bunkers on the other, Keegan cleverly hit his drive left of the wet stuff. As the ball flew towards the bunker, he bobbed and contorted like he had indulged in the pre-round Waffle House promotion: “Show your PGA Card and get extra gravy.” But Keegan smiled when it stopped in the long rough just short of the green.

It was clear he was nervous on his chip-shot because he played very quickly. I was just returning from the fridge with my PBR when I saw the ball running for the water like it was on fire. He skulled his chip and it plunked in like it was struck by Charles Barkley. Keegan holed out in 6 with a devastating triple bogey.

What’s more, all this was witnessed back on the tee by CIA Agent Dufner, now with a 5 shot lead. You could tell Dufner was elated because he looked at his caddie with the same blank, emotionless expression that he had on his mug for four days -- as if he was thinking, “Should I have a ham sandwich or shouldn’t I?”

But finally a chink in the Duf-armour. Jason, who should have been aiming at the trees on the left with a sand wedge, took a wood and promptly splashed his own ball in the watery graveyard. WHAT?!?

Afterwards, I was pretty sure I saw an eyebrow rise on Duff’s stone face, but when I played it back, it turned out to be just a blink. He calmly got up and down from the 100-yard drop and minimized the damage by draining another huge putt for bogey.

Then things got real interesting. Keegan, who was coming off an implosion just last week when he shot 41 on the back nine of the WGC Bridgestone, took a page out of US Open Champion Rory Mcllroy’s book – learn from your blunders and come back stronger!

Keegan (the belly putting 25-year-old) went on a Tiger-esque run, knocking it stiff on 16 and making birdie, then following up with a 35-foot bomb on 17 for another birdie.

As Keegan pumped his fist and ran laps around greens, the roars echoed through the rolling hills and tall pines of the Athletic Club. It turned out to be enough to unnerve the unflappable Dufner, who bogeyed those same two holes.

Headed to a 3-hole aggregate playoff were the new faces of the PGA Tour: young bucks with buckets of ice cubes in their Michael Jordan Hanes boxer briefs.

Dufner landed the first blow with another perfect drive that bisected the narrow 16th fairway. Bradley countered, blowing it by Dufner’s drive by 50 yards. Dufner came with an uppercut when a 5-iron flew over the top of the flag and stopped 4 feet stiff, past the pin. But Bradley swung harder and more ferociously, and his wedge landed flush and stuck 3 feet underneath the hole like a poisonous dart.

Dufner staggered. After four days of fearless play, the remorseless Keegan Bradley finally wore him down. His hands tensed and he jabbed at the 4 footer, and it painfully slid by the hole.

Finally, Keegan knocked him to the canvas when he confidently stroked in his birdie putt.

They still had two more holes to play, but the momentum had clearly swung, and even a birdie on the impossible 18 was not enough after Dufner’s bogey on the 2nd playoff hole, #17.

These two kids are following the leads of Mcllroy, Bubba, DJ, and others. They play fearless golf, and when they get knocked down, they get right back up and get stronger.

Don’t feel too bad for Dufner -- you can bet he’ll be back. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him doing this again next April, at Augusta.

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