Where Does This Win Rank Among Keegan Bradley's Best?

David LevinSenior Writer IIAugust 15, 2011

JOHNS CREEK, GA - AUGUST 14:  Keegan Bradley poses with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning a three-hole playoff over Jason Dufner during the final round of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club on August 14, 2011 in Johns Creek, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The drought is over.

For the first time in six majors, an American has walked away with a golf title. American golf can breathe a sigh of relief now that Keegan Bradley has kept the Wanamaker Trophy on our own soil.

Bradley, who was so solid at Bridgestone last week, showed a competitiveness that helped him charge through the final four holes, picking up two strokes on leader Jason Dufner to send the match to a three-hole aggregate playoff.

In the end, Bradley—who had only one other title in his bag for his career, the Byron Nelson Classic this year—became the first rookie to win a golf major since John Daly shocked us with his long drives and short game in the 1991 PGA Championship.

According to the story on pga.com, Bradley was five shots behind with three holes to play, but made back-to-back birdies to rally. Jason Dufner helped matters for the rookie by making three straight bogeys on the final three holes.

Bradley won a three-hole playoff, making him only the third player in at least 100 years to win a major in his first try and he became the first player to win a major with a long putter—a belly putter.

Bradley was able to make a 35-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole in regulation to keep him in the chance and put pressure on Dufner. He was able to two-putt across the 18th green for a par.

JOHNS CREEK, GA - AUGUST 14:  Jason Dufner waves to the gallery on the third playoff hole during the final round of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club on August 14, 2011 in Johns Creek, Georgia.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

He shot a two-under 68 for the round.

This is by far the best moment of his career so far, having one win to his credit. He was best known on the tour as the nephew of LPGA Tour great Pat Bradley. His victory at the Byron Nelson Classic was in a sudden-death playoff where the leaders faded toward the end of the tournament and Bradley caught fire.

"He's got a good pedigree with Pat Bradley in the family," Dufner said on pga.com. "I'm sure he's picked up a few things from her about winning, attitude and golf in general. He's probably got a pretty strong future out here."

Bradley now moves to No. 29 in the world.

With the win, Bradley led a brigade of young American golfers who proved the sport isn’t as lost on them as some (including myself) had thought. Bradley, Dufner, Brendan Steele and Scott Verplank all stayed near the top of the leaderboard for most of the day. And despite a charge by the international contingent of Luke Donald, Robert Karlsson, Anders Hansen and Adam Scott, the Americans remained on top for the entire tournament.

Of the top golfers in the world, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood both finished at three-under par.

Bradley and others proved that there are still a lot of good golfers on American soil. With the play of Tiger Woods and other more famous golfers who did not make the cut, including Dustin Johnson and last year’s winner Martin Kaymer, it was a fitting show for the title.

So much has been made of lost opportunities by the Americans to claim major titles over the past year and half. The gap between the international players and our own being so great. Bradley closed that gap and Dufner, Verplank and Steele showed it may not be the Bubba Watsons, Nick Watneys and Matt Kuchars of the game to look for.

This only enhanced our look for the 2012 PGA Tour. There was more excitement and more energy this weekend on a course that beat golfers at their own game. And it took a rookie to come out of nowhere and knock some sense back into the game that Americans have dominated for years.