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It sure did, in a hurry.

“Those last four holes are so tough,” the winner said. “Someone could have a five-shot lead and it doesn’t matter.”

At the 15th, Dufner tried to get cute with a 5-wood and pushed his tee shot into the water. The crowd groaned, sensing a collapse, but he pulled himself together, took a drop, knocked it to 15 feet and made a bogey putt that felt like a birdie.

No problem. He was still in control.

But up ahead at 16, Bradley hit his best drive of the week to set up a birdie. Dufner, coming along in the final group, dumped his approach in a bunker _ “the one I want back more than anything” _ blasted out to 10 feet and missed the putt. Another bogey. Just like that, he was only two strokes ahead of Bradley.

Dufner stepped up to the 17th tee, looking down over the water at the picturesque, par-3 hole. He had the best _ or maybe we should say the worst _ view of all when Bradley rolled in a 35-foot birdie putt, raised his club with one hand, pumping his fist with the other and running around like this was his tournament now.

Dufner just stared straight ahead, his once commanding lead down to one measly shot. He cleared the pond off the tee, then made an ugly three-putt bogey, just as he would do in the playoff a short time later.

Both times, he ran his first putt well past the hole _ 10 feet in regulation, 15 feet with the next one _ and missed the return try.

“He had a tricky putt on 17,” Bradley said, referring to the playoff attempt. “I feel for the guy, honestly. He played well enough to win.”

Going to No. 18 for the second time, only this time trailing by two strokes, Dufner split the fairway with his driver, knocked his second shot over the water that collected so many balls during the week, and rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt.

It didn’t matter.

From 18 feet, Bradley cozied his putt right next to the hole and tapped in for the victory.

The Wanamaker Trophy was his.

All Dufner got was heartache.


Story Continues →