JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (AP) — Keegan Bradley was pretty impressive at the PGA Championship with his resiliency and his really long belly putter.
That’s right, a belly putter. This 25-year-old used a club typically thought to be the last resort of graying golfers with creaky backs to pull off a shocking victory.
The PGA Tour rookie became the first to win a major tournament with a long putter, rallying to capture the PGA Championship in a three-hole playoff with Jason Dufner on Sunday.
He turned in amazing performances with the club on the greens at Atlanta Athletic Club.
“Personally, I think it’s an easier way to putt,” he said. “Especially when there’s some nerves.”
Oh, there were plenty of those during the final round – except maybe for Bradley.
“This guy is the guttiest player I’ve ever worked for, ever,” said caddie Steve Hale. “This kid, there’s no quit in him.”
He banged in a hard-charging 35-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th that brought him to 8-under par, then delicately lagged a putt on the 18th hole that led to a tap-in par and kept his spot in the playoff.
“It wasn’t easy to two-putt from that spot,” said Scott Verplank, Bradley’s final-round partner.
Bradley doesn’t know what the fuss is about.
He’s used the belly putter for 2 1/2 years and said it was routine on the Nationwide Tour to be “in a group with three guys that had unconventional putters. It happened all the time.”
Just not in the majors. It’s hard to forget the iconic shots of the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, bent way over as he struck his putts.
Bradley, a skinny, 6-foot-3 golfer from St. John’s, didn’t see why he couldn’t try the belly putter, especially when it felt so right.
“For a guy that’s 40 years old and has been playing with a short putter for 35 years, they grab that thing and it’s a bizarre feeling,” Bradley said. “For me, it was really easy. It just clicked right away.”
That was apparent at the PGA. Hale saw it coming throughout the round as Bradley’s deft touch got him out of trouble again and again. “You kind of had a sense that something like this was going to happen,” the caddie said.
Maybe, but it had never happened before.