Keegan Bradley fended off a remarkable comeback by Charl Schwartzel today, to win the 2011 PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
Today we were able to see and be reminded, of what made Bradley and Schwartzel, major winners this year.
Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy, started the day with a share of the lead at four-under, seven shots ahead of Schwartzel and 10 ahead of Darren Clarke.
Today's second and final round was supposed to be a mano-a-mano, 18-hole shootout between Bradley and McIlroy for the top prize. Apparently, that memo never reached Schwartzel, who played lights out today.
If this would have been a horse race, we would have seen how one of the co-leaders at the half way point, would get rid of the horse he was battling the lead with.
Then see how in the final turn, that same horse in the lead, would see the third place horse, catch him, after being seven lengths behind, react to get a two-length lead, and finally hold another comeback in the home stretch to hold on by a length.
That is what Keegan Bradley had to do in order to win the tournament.
Bradley, just like yesterday, started with a bogey on the first hole. But, he was not able to replicate his front nine today, ad he had back-to-back bogeys on the fifth and sixth holes.
He added a birdie on the par-five seventh and was a two-under for the tournament, as he made the turn.
Meanwhile, Schwartzel started off with four straight pars before catching fire on the fifth hole. He proceeded to make five straight birdies to get to two-under, tied with Bradley for the lead after nine.
McIlroy—who started with a share of the lead—made six straight pars to start the round. He then made three straight bogeys to exit his front nine, dropping to one-under, one shot behind the new co-leaders—Bradley and Schwartzel.
Meanwhile, Clarke, who was 10 shots off the lead at the beginning of the round, made two bogeys and a birdie in his front nine to make the turn at five-over.
Clarke never contended, he finished at nine-over, after making four bogeys in his back nine.
But the race for the lead was heated in the back nine. Bradley started it with a birdie, and took a one shot lead after 10 holes.
It remained that way until the par three 13th, where Schwartzel missed his putt for par and made bogey, dropping to one-under. That tied him with McIlroy two shots back in second place.
But it was not over yet. Schwarztzel made a birdie on the par four 15th to pull to within one of the lead at two-under, heading to the feared and intimidating par three 16th.
Yesterday, at the 16th hole, McIlroy was the only one to make par. Bradley made bogey, and Schwartzel and Clarke made double-bogey. This hole would be key in the final stretch.
Today, it was time to play it safe, and so they did. The only player to make bogey was McIlroy who missed his par putt, dropping to even par, three shots off the lead.
The par five 17th would also be key, as it was the third easiest hole, and at least birdie was attainable.
Schwartzel made his birdie to momentarily tie Bradley, who also had a birdie putt to come. And just like Bradley did in the PGA Championship, his putting was clutch as he sank the birdie putt to remain ahead by one shot.
With just one hole to play, Schwartzel had to be aggresive, and to try to make his birdie and force a playoff. But, he fell short as both par the hole.
Bradley's putting, like in the PGA Championship, was key in the back-nine as he went bogey free, along with two clutch birdies.
While McIlroy failed to make an impact today, he was in contention for most of the day, making it an interesting three-way battle for the win.
For Bradley, this caps a remarkable year that saw him win twice, including the PGA Championship.