The Bell is Ringing

August 16, 2011 -

A triple bogey on the 15th hole on Sunday, while in the hunt to win a Major Championship, would derail most players.

That same catastrophe would be reason enough for any 25 year old playing in their first Major Championship, to want to run away and hide.

Not so, Keegan Bradley.

At the Atlanta Athletic Club on Sunday, the extraordinary happened at an event that was up until then, anything but extraordinary.

25 year old PGA Tour rookie, Keegan Bradley, trailed similarly unheralded, 34 year old journeyman, Jason Dufner, by 2 shots. That was until Bradley made a disastrous triple bogey-6 on the diabolical, 15th hole.  At that moment, he trailed by 5, with three holes to play.

At which point a legend was born.

The last four holes of the Atlanta Athletic Club have been described as the most difficult 4 closing holes in Major Championship history.

Bradley proceeded to make a birdie at both the 16th and 17th holes before making par at the ridiculously difficult 18th hole.

During that time, the up until now, unflappable Dufner, had nine fingers wrapped around the Wannamaker trophy (golf’s biggest trophy which is awarded the winner of the PGA Championship). He would play those last four holes in 3-over par.

Playoff.

Bradley immediately birdied the first hole of the 3-hole playoff, giving him a one shot edge. On their second hole, the par 3 17th both players found dry land with their tee shots. Dufner 3 putted from 40 feet while Bradley safely two putted for par and a two stroke lead heading to the infamous 18th. Both players hit great drives and equally superb approach shots to almost identical positions, 20 feet from the hole (only three players had made birdie on this hole all day). Heroically, Dufner made his putt for birdie, and watched resignedly while Bradley two putted for par, and a one stoke victory.

There were a lot of voices complaining that this was a tournament of nobodies-given the unheralded names at the top of the leaderboard for most of the week. Tiger Woods missed the cut by a whopping 6 shots and may not be seen again competitively in the US for 6 months. And that is OK for golf. As great as he once was, ‘he’ is not the game-and the game not only survives but it is finding new stars.

Like Keegan Bradley.

Bradley has royal golf lineage. His aunt is Hall of Famer and LPGA great, Pat Bradley, who won 6 Major Championships in the 1980’s. Her Mother, back at her home in Vermont, used to famously ring a cowbell after each of her 31 victories. When Pat retired and was inducted into the Hall of Fame, the cowbell retired with her and is enshrined with her.

Perhaps the cowbell should be dusted off and get ready for some more ringing.

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