Golf Digest editors picks
Week in Review

Here To Stay

With a win in his first major championship, 25-year-old Keegan Bradley looks poised to pick up more hardware for years to come

August 15, 2011

It would be reasonable and wrong to conclude that the stars went missing last week, leaving the PGA Championship in the hands of understudies, Keegan Bradley foremost among them. Bradley may not be Tiger Woods, but he isn't Shaun Micheel, either.

What Bradley is is the leading candidate to win PGA Tour Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.

Bradley, 25, escaped obscurity with his victory in the HP Byron Nelson Championship in May. His win Sunday at Atlanta Athletic Club allowed him to join the select company of other multiple winners of PGA Tour events in 2011 -- Mark Wilson, Bubba Watson and Steve Stricker.

Of the four, he's the only one to have won a major championship. Other tour members have played consistently better -- Luke Donald foremost among them -- but if winning is the measure and majors are weighted heavier, Bradley is the frontrunner.

Related: Bradley's win adds to the list of crazy finishes at the PGA

His stiffest competition will be from Donald and Charl Schwartzel, the latter also a tour rookie who has won a major. The FedEx Cup Playoffs, usually about money that all players welcome but none of them need, will again have the benefit of determining the player of the year.

It won't be Tiger Woods, who failed to qualify for the playoffs. It could be Keegan Bradley. At the outset of the year, neither was plausible.

Bradley has a champion's pedigree -- he is the nephew of former LPGA star Pat Bradley, a World Golf Hall of Fame member. But he also has a champion's fortitude. He overcame a debilitating triple bogey on the 15th hole on Sunday with birdies at 16 and 17, then defeated Jason Dufner in a three-hole playoff.

"He's got a lot of good things going for him," Dufner said. "He's got a great pedigree with Pat Bradley in his family. So I'm sure he's picked up some things from her about winning and attitude and golf in general. He's probably got a pretty strong future out here."

He was, rather than an understudy, the biggest star on one of golf's biggest stages on Sunday.

CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY

Dufner on Twitter, on June 21: "Gotta love that St Louis cardinal bullpen, they are vomit zone every night."

Related: Jason Dufner lets his chance at history slip away

Dufner found himself in said vomit zone on Sunday afternoon. He stood on the 15th tee with a four-stroke lead and hit his next shot into the water, leading to the first of three straight bogeys. Then he pulled a short birdie putt on the first playoff hole.

The Cardinals' bullpen would surely enjoy the irony.

LEE WESTWOOD CHANNELING SNOOPY

Charles Schulz once penned a Peanuts strip that had Charlie Brown caddying for Snoopy.

"Is there anything special you think about before each shot?" Charlie Brown asked Snoopy, as he addressed the ball.

"Just before I swing," Snoopy replied, "I think to myself, 'you haven't hit a good shot all day, what makes you think you're going to hit one now?'"

Lee Westwood, meanwhile, was lamenting his putting again on Saturday, when he was asked whether he might shoot 63, 64 or 65 on Sunday should his putter respond.

"I'd like to think they are going to drop tomorrow but they haven't dropped all year, so why should they change tomorrow?" he said, echoing Snoopy.

Westwood tied for eighth -- yet another respectable performance in a major championship, but not a winning one.

EUROPE'S BIG THREE

The rise of European golf largely has been driven by its three highest-ranked players, all of whom have held the No. 1 position in the World Ranking in the last year. Here's how they fared in the majors:

-- Luke Donald, fourth in the Masters, 45th in the U.S. Open, missed the cut in the British Open and tied for eighth in the PGA Championship.

-- Lee Westwood, 11th, third, missed cut and tied for eighth.

-- Martin Kaymer, missed cut, 39th, 12th and missed cut.

THE CRITICS' CORNER

Opinions on Tiger Woods don't seem to vary much, at least in their conclusions, that however his future plays out, it isn't likely to resemble his past.

Greg Norman said that Woods, who missed the cut in the PGA, has forfeited one of the most important weapons in his arsenal, his ability to intimidate.

"He'll come back and win, there's no question," Norman told Neil McLeman of the Sunday Mirror. "He's just too good a player. But losing his intimidation factor is probably the biggest thing. He just walked out there and he was a hard guy to beat. Now he's trying to beat them instead of them trying to beat him. The kids growing up haven't seen Tiger's dominance. The role reversal is the big difference."

Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News, meanwhile, managed to indict Woods and take a gratuitous shot at instructor Sean Foley, all in the same sentence.

"Somehow a guy who's won 14 majors can only manage to hit the ball straight now for a few holes at a time," Lupica wrote. "And when the round is over, when Woods is talking about this new swing that a golf hustler named Sean Foley has sold to him like swamp land in Jersey, he sounds like Foley has brainwashed him."

Tom English in Scotland on Sunday declared Tiger's quest to overtake Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 professional majors finished.

"Tiger found 22 bunkers and four water hazards in his two rounds in Atlanta," English wrote. "He found the sand twice on seven different holes. Made five double bogeys, the most he has ever made in any tournament as a professional. Missed his first ever cut in this championship...Shot 10-over, his worst performance in a major. The numbers are grotesque and the future, such as it is, is deeply worrying. Jack Nicklaus can relax. Kick your shoes off, Jack. Light a cigar, pour yourself a drink. Tiger's pursuit of your golden 18 is all but over."

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