They were PGA Tour rookies and close friends. They won their first tournament in Texas about two months apart, Steele in San Antonio and Bradley in Dallas. They played in one of Phil Mickelson’s money games at The Players Championship. Both made their major championship debut at the PGA Championship, and both were in the final two groups.
That’s where it all changed.
Steele stumbled out of the gate and shot a 77. Bradley took triple bogey on the 15th hole, but rallied to force a playoff and beat Jason Dufner to become only the third player in the last century to win a major in his first try.
Bradley went on to sign lucrative endorsement deals, play in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, make a case for being on the Presidents Cup team and was the overwhelming winner of PGA Tour rookie of the year.
All because of one round.
“That’s a fair assessment,” Steele said, before he laughed and added, “But it was a big round!”
Bradley said one of his fondest memories from Sunday at Atlanta Athletic Club was looking at Steele on the putting green before they headed to the tee, two rookies in their first major, each with a chance of doing something special.
“I remember saying to him, ‘If I don’t win, you better.’ We both said the same thing. It was a unique experience,” Bradley said. “Any other year, his year could have been a landslide for rookie of the year. He had a great year. He’s a great player. I envy a lot of what he does on the golf course.”
Steele said it took him a couple of days to get over the disappointment of his final round, but he took valuable lessons from the PGA Championship, and he has his own good memories of that major. Steele was out of contention, but had a great view of Bradley’s triple bogey, followed by his remarkable birdie-birdie-par rally.
“It was a special moment through my eyes watching him birdie 16, and I got major goose bumps watching him make that putt on 17,” Steele said. “I was standing right next to Dufner. It was interesting to be right there, seeing it all unfold.”
They got back together at the end of the year for the Shark Shootout as partners. It ended in a most appropriate fashion. They became the first PGA Tour rookie team to win the event.
BUBBA’S CAR: Bubba Watson made a deal with his wife that if he ever won a PGA Tour event, he would be allowed to buy the 1969 Dodge Charger made popular in the “Dukes of Hazzard.”View Entire Story
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