First-time Bradley wins Byron Nelson

Rookie Keegan Bradley has stunned the field and won his maiden title at the wind-lashed Byron Nelson.

US PGA Tour Rookie Keegan Bradley shook the field to the core when he sneaked in under the radar to win his first PGA Tour title at the wind-lashed Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday.

And what’s more, he did it the hard way – by reeling in expected winner Ryan Palmer and then beating him with a par at the first extra hole of the sudden-death play-off at the TPC Four Seasons Resort near Dallas in Texas..

Palmer bogeyed the hole after hitting his second shot into the water on the left side of the green.

Both players had landed their tee shots in some trees on the right of the fairway, Bradley, 24 and ranked 203rd in the world, shaped his hooked shot so as to end up just short and left of the green and had no problem making his par with two putts.

Palmer, however, pulled what should have been a straightforward approach into the water, took a penalty drop and was unable to make par

“I don’t know what to say,” an overwhelmed Bradley said after earning, along with a winner’s cheque for $1.17m, and a place in next year’s US Masters.

“I am so happy and I can’t believe this just happened, I really can’t. This is a dream come true.

“I have been waiting for this my whole life,” said the pencil-slim American who is a nephew of the LPGA’s World Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley.

Palmer, who was seeking his fourth PGA Tour title but had to settle for second place at an event where he had made only one cut in his seven previous appearances, closed with a level-par 72 in difficult, windy conditions to match the three-under 277 target set earlier by Bradley with his closing 4-under 68.

This after it had looked as if Japan’s Ryuji Imada would beat both eventual leaders to claim his first title.

Sadly for the young Japanese campaigner, however, he let it slip, a brace of nervous bogeys on the last two holes and a closing 71 dropping him back into a tie for third place at two-under with American Joe Ogilvie (70).

Before then he had been one of the best of the only seven players who managed to finish under par when it came to handling the unpredictable, gusting winds that as well as drying up an already fast-running layout, made shot selection and control so difficult. .

Palmer, Ogilvie and Imada all held at least a share of the lead on the see-saw front nine before the Japanese moved into a two shot lead following his 10ft birdie putt at the par-three 13th as against respective bogeys by the Americans at holes 11 and 13

Once in the lead, however Imada, in an unknown Tour place he had never been before, faltered at the 15th where he pushed his drive into trees and bogeyed the hole and then slipped out of the lead with two more bogeys at 17 and 18.

Palmer also bogeyed 17 where he three-putted, but he immediately recovered with a birdie at the 18th to force the play-off with earlier finisher Bradley by hitting a pitching wedge with side spin to within six feet of the pin and then nailing his putt.

Top 10 Leaderboard
(US unless stated)
277 *Keegan Bradley 66 71 72 68, Ryan Palmer 65 67 73 72
278 Joe Ogilvie 66 70 72 70, Ryuji Imada (Japan) 69 68 70 71
279 Jason Day (Australia) 72 71 69 67
280 John Rollins 68 70 71 71, Matt Kuchar 69 71 68 72
281 James Driscoll 70 71 74 66, Jason Dufner 70 70 72 69, Nick Watney 68 68 73 72, Jeff Overton 64 74 71 72, Rod Pampling (Aus) 70 68 71 72, Arjun Atwal (Ind) 68 72 67 74
*Keegan play-off at the first extra hole