Bradley caps comeback to capture PGA Championship in playoff

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Dufner watched it all unfold from high on the hill as he waited on the 15th tee, his lead suddenly up to four shots over Anders Hansen, who was in the process of making bogey. Dufner, so unflappable all day, had played the ferocious four-hole closing stretch in a combined 3 under for the first three days without every making bogey.

This was different. This was Sunday.

Dufner, for the first time showing even a trace of emotion, winced slightly when he saw the flight of his tee shot. It found the pond to the right of the green, yet he poured in a 12-foot putt to at least escape with bogey. His lead was still four shots, and when he split the middle of the 16th fairway, he seemed to be on his way.

Then came an unlikely chain of events.

Bradley stuffed his shot into 8 feet for birdie on the 16th. Behind him in the final group, Dufner hit into the right bunker, blasted out to 10 feet and made bogey. Now his lead was down to two shots.

Dufner arrived on the 17th tee in time to watch as Bradley rattled in a 35-foot putt, pumping his fists as his caddie stood behind the hole holding the flag over his head with both arms. Dufner did well to find the middle of the green for what appeared to be a safe two-putt par. But he ran his first putt 10 feet by the hole and three-putted for bogey.

Just like that, they were tied.

With the pressure as great as it had been all day, both played the 18th the same way — dry. Both had long two-putts for par from one side of the green to the other. They finished at 8-under 272.

Dufner’s 5-iron on the opening hole of the playoff — the uphill 16th — came within an inch of hitting the hole and stopped 6 feet away. Bradley answered with a shot into 4 feet and made the birdie, while Dufner missed his putt.

On the 17th, Dufner again three-putted for bogey to give Bradley a two-shot lead going to the 18th. The final drama for Bradley was watching his 6-iron descend toward the green, clearing the lake with not much room to spare. Dufner rolled in a birdie, but by then it was too late to recover from his mistakes.

“I’m so new at this situation, I don’t know if I appreciate it as much as I will — soon,” Dufner said. “I might look back in 10 or 15 years and be disappointed if I never get another chance.”

They finished one shot ahead of Hansen, whose lone bogey of the final round — on the 16th hole — kept him out of the playoff. The Dane closed with a 66, matching the best score of the final round.

The group tied for fourth included 2001 champion David Toms (67) and two others who stayed in the game until the very end.

Robert Karlsson got within one shot of the lead with a 5-foot eagle putt on the 12th hole. The Swede never made another birdie, though, and finished with three straight bogeys for a 67. Scott Verplank holed out a bunker shot on the 16th and was tied with Bradley going to the 17th, but his tee shot bounced off the wall and into the water for a double bogey. He closed with a 70.

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