Keegan Bradley snaps six-year winless drought, wins BMW Championship in playoff

September 10, 2018
Keegan Bradley

Two weeks ago, Keegan Bradley played his way into the final pairing at the Northern Trust Open. It felt like a chance for a career renewal for Bradley, who hadn’t won in six years and built up a series of solid, unspectacular seasons. But he looked uncomfortable all day in New Jersey, suffering his way to a final-round 78. As Bryson DeChambeau cruised to victory alongside him, Bradley slipped from second to T34.

Monday was a wholly different story. Bradley rallied in the final round of the BMW Championship with a six-under 64, tied for the best round in the field, and outlasted the new World No. 1 to stand in the winner’s circle at Aronimink. It was his first win in six years.

Bradley began the day three shots back of Justin Rose but poured in a series of lengthy putts on the front nine to play his way into contention. It got even better down the stretch: Bradley birdied 14 to grab a share of the lead and then hit the par-5 16th in two. He two-putted that to seize the lead by himself, then seemingly dropped the hammer with another birdie at the par-3 17th.

But there was plenty more action to come. Bradley went “Fore left” and then “Fore right” with his tee shot and approach at the 18th hole. As Bradley lined up his chip, Rose poured in a birdie putt at the 17th hole. Bradley’s putt for par missed low and left and he suddenly found himself one shot behind.

Rose hit his tee shot down the fairway at the uphill finishing hole, but left himself well over 200 yards to a back pin. He didn’t catch his approach shot quite clean and found the fairway short of the green, then left his lengthy chip well short. His putt to win carried just too much speed and caught the lip before spinning out for a tap-in bogey. The playoff was on.

Rose found the left rough off the tee; Bradley found the fairway. Rose nuked his approach into the back bleachers but richocheted to the back fringe. Bradley found a similar spot with his long iron (though he didn’t use the bleachers). From there, it was a putt-off. Bradley nestled his putt from the fringe inside a foot, while Rose’s ball bounced off the face and wound up a nervy five feet short.

Everyone expected Rose to make the putt. He hadn’t missed from inside five feet all week, going a perfect 48 for 48. Moreover, he was about to ascend to world No. 1. What better way to grab golf’s championship belt than with a win? But it wasn’t to be: his effort caught just a little too much edge and sailed over the edge of the lip and out. Bogey for Rose.

Bradley had a look of disbelief before he even replaced his ball. But he had enough presence of mind to move his coin back to its proper position and settled his Srixon in its position in front of the cup. When he brushed in the ball, he thrust his arms in the air, a winner again.

Keegan Bradley
72 holes wasn’t enough, but Keegan Bradley won the BMW Championship in a rollicking Monday playoff.

For more on today’s action, here’s our blow-by-blow recap of the day as it unfolded.

The final round of the BMW Championship is set to (hopefully) finish Monday at Aronimink Golf Club in Philadelphia.

Tiger Woods tees off at 8:40 a.m., just a few groups ahead of the final trio (Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy). Woods begins his final round five shots back of the leader, Rose, and is chasing down that elusive first victory in more than five years. This event began with Woods firing a first round 62 Thursday.

Who will win? Will it be 72 holes or 54 that defines the champ? Will Schauffele play his way onto the American Ryder Cup team? Or will it be Tony Finau? Follow the final round play out below as we look to answer all those questions.

SCORES: Rose looking to become world no. 1 with win

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2:40. Wow. Keegan taps in for the win. What a rollercoaster ride… What a day! Thanks for following along with the live blog and stay dialed in to GOLF.com the rest of the day as we continue to add plenty of playoff coverage.

2:38. He missed it!!! Oh boy. Another lipout for Rose and it’s going to be a Keegan Bradley victory.

2:37. Ooh boy. Rose’s putt from the fringe got bouncy right away and left that one a good five feet short…this is a nervy one! Par to stay alive.

2:35. Keegan will be first to putt from the back fringe and…it comes out okay but just short. He should be able to kick that in for a no-problem 4. Now Rose will have another putt for the win.

2:31. Wow. Rose just rocketed his approach into the back bleachers — but it richocheted around and bounced back to the fringe! Keegan doesn’t know what happened to that ball, exactly. He hits a much better shot but ends up in just about the same spot, in the fringe long of the green.

2:24. Ohhhkay folks. We’re back on the 18th tee! Rose first to hit and he’s in the left rough. Keegan right down the middle. Advantage Keegan.

2:17. I’m getting word that regardless of the outcome here, Rose has moved to No. 1 in the world. But wheeee is it fun to have some bonus golf. On a Monday no less!

2:15. He lipped it! He lipped it! Wow…that caught a bunch of the hole and went out. PLAYOFF TIME!

2:12. Rory leaves his putt just outside the right edge and taps in to finish at -18. Now Schauffele, to get to -20 and a very interesting position…he backs off the putt a couple times, then drills it through the break. Too bad. Taps in for -19. Now Rose for the win and No. 1 ranking!

2:10. Rose now facing a straightforward up-and-down, as far as these things go. But that’s easy for me to say! He scooped that one a little bit and hit it high and short. WORK LEFT! I’m nervous.

2:09. Here was that Keegan 18th-hole bogey:

2:06. Xander hits a really good one. He’ll be inside 20 feet for birdie at this difficult finisher needing to make it to get into a potential playoff at -20. But that’s only if Rose fails to get up and down…and he’s been rock-solid.

2:05. Now it’s all up to Rose. Bradley in the clubhouse at -20. Rose in the fairway — way back — at -21. Xander in the fairway at -19. Rose approaches his ball and…it’s way short. Like, 30 yards short of the pin. He’ll be chipping from the fairway.

2:01. The tournament hangs in the balance here on a Keegan Bradley 8-footer for par. And…oh no. That was not good. Low and left. Never had a chance. An awesome 64 from Bradley but that’s a rough way to finish. He’ll need a Justin Rose bogey from the fairway.

1:58. Wow. Rose pours in his birdie at 17 — dead center cup. A no doubter.

1:55. Fore right! Keegan in the back bleachers! Yoooowza. That should be a free drop, but this is getting very interesting…

1:52. Rose has a good look for birdie at 17. Keegan has an open look at the green at 18. But there’s a whole to-do in keeping that open look open. Carts backing up. Fencelines being moved. 201 to the hole, uphill and into the wind.

1:45. Leader Bradley at 18 and whoops! Yanks it way left. Still, it doesn’t quite find the treeline and looks to have a decent lie. Don’t think it’ll be a big issue. Rose (-20) and Rory and Xander (-18) are chasing from the 17th tee. Horschel your new clubhouse leader at -19.

1:42. Schauffele, McIlroy, Rose putting for birdies at 16 (furthest away to closest). But Keegan Bradley is ahead by two! Just poured in his birdie at 17.

1:36. Wow. Bradley just hit that tight at the par-3 17th. Inside eight feet to get to 21-under all of a sudden!

1:31. Solo. Leader. Keegan. Bradley. First man to 20 under! Easy two-putt birdie at No. 16.

1:28. Tiger taps in for par at 18, finishing off a final-round 65. He’s the leader (in the clubhouse) along with playing partner Webb Simpson.

1:25. Things are happening now! Horschel is in for birdie at 16 to tie the lead at 19. Xander now to 18 after a birdie at No. 15. Bradley on the 16th green in two…

1:21. Let’s check in with our leaders: Rose with a two-putt par at 15. Keegan in the fairway at 16. Horschel one shot back but putting for eagle at 16. I think we may see a three-way tie again in a minute. Behind them it’s the gang at 17 including McIlroy, who just made a lengthy par save.

1:16. Tiger from 202 at the last and finds the front of the green…that hole is 463 and playing LONG. Webb Simpson hit driver-hybrid.

1:10. Tiger for birdie…a must-make from 12 feet. Too high and too hard, never had a chance.

1:05. Best rounds on the course today: Tiger Woods, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Billy Horschel, Tony Finau (-5 each).

1:01. Woods at the par-3 17th, and it’s a good one, inside 15 feet for birdie. He’ll need that one! These irons have been remarkable today. Here’s that flop shot save from 16, by the way:

1:00. Bogey for Horschel. He’s back to -18. Bradley/Rose leadership now.

12:57. McIlroy has made 12 pars and a birdie. He’s short but on the green at 14 as the rain continues to fall harder…meanwhile, co-leader Horschel has some work left for his par up ahead. Starting to get nasty out.

12:53. Made it! Woods in for birdie. Meanwhile, Bradley in for birdie too! Three guys at -19. Four guys at -17. What a finish. WHAT A MONDAY. Hope everyone is enjoying this madness while “working.”

12:51. Pretty good effort by Woods from that thick stuff. Lands near the pin and runs out to some 12 feet. He’ll have that for birdie.

12:48. Tiger now, with 5-wood…no dice. Short left and in some absolute lettuce. That’ll be a tricky flop.

12:47. Tony Finau is still, uh, very good. He’s at 16 under now! He’ll be a Ryder Cupper. Book it.

12:43. Rosie’s lead-grabbing birdie…which was just matched by Billy Horschel.

12:40. Fairway for Tiger at 16. Don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that he needs eagle…he’ll have 249 yards left.

12:35. No dice for Woods. High and hard — if that was a left edge putt, he gave it a cup outside. Disappointing par. Justin Rose, on the other hand? He converts at 12 and is now 19 deep and in the solo lead.

12:29. Woods hits a gorgeous iron shot from just outside 180 yards, pin high on the left. Eight feet left for a desperately-needed birdie.

12:27. Justin Rose sticks it at 12. Rory sticks it, too. Leaders could be on the move! Tiger is down the middle at 15, meanwhile. Whats the number that’ll win — 21 under? Does 20 have a chance? Everyone has work to do.

12:21. Developing: Jordan Spieth fires final-round 73 for a T54 finish. Don’t think that’s going to be enough to get him to East Lake, which leads to alllll sorts of complicated scenarios. See below: 

12:18. A C-plus bunker shot leaves Woods with about eight feet for par. Sounds like the wind is picking up…and that putt never had a chance. Never high or hard enough. Bogey for Woods, who slips to two back. Gonna need a glistening finish to have a chance now.

12:12. It’s not bad, actually. There was some drizzle but that has slowed for the minute. Mostly just wet and soggy. Guys taking epic divots. Balls landing like marbles in Jello. Plenty of backspin. Not a ton of wind. And chilly! Sweater weather. What a time!

12:10. Right bunker at the par-3 14th for Woods. Not sure about the lie but that’ll be a must-convert up-and-down.

12:07. Clutch par putt for Bradley at 12.

12:05. This was that latest work of art. Woods waiting on 14.

12:02. Made it! Birdie for Woods. Birdie for Rory. Seven guys within one shot of the lead. Yowza.

11:57. Nice spinny iron approach at 13 for Tiger. One skip right up next to the hole, then ripped back to some eight feet. Good look for bird.

11:55. That’ll be Rory’s first birdie! He just wasn’t hitting it close enough…just spun it back to about four inches at No. 10. To -17 he goes!

11:51. Okay all you wonderful followers. Things are moving VERY FAST and it’s delightfully hard to even keep track of. (on a related note, hit me up on Twitter @dylan_dethier if you’ve got questions!) Time for a leaderboard look! We’ve got:

-18: Horschel, Rose, Bradley

-17: Simpson, Schauffele

-16: Woods, McIlroy

11:48. Birdie for Rose! Birdie for Schauffele! …par for Rory. Disappointing three-putt from the back fringe for McIlroy, who has stalled fully with nine pars.

11:46. Wow, impressive chip from Tiger. Nearly catches the edge…just missed. Should be a par.

11:40. Woods sails his approach just over the green at 12 and will have a bit of a tricky shot back up the bank. Speaking of banks…that’s where Keegan Bradley just plugged his approach shot on the front of the 10th.

11:36. Tiger down the fairway at 12. Here’s the shot he hit last hole…

11:35. NOT FOR LONG, says Keegan Bradley. He’s now your co-leader!

11:34. Your solo leader, Billy Horschel.

11:31. Birdie for Woods. Fifth in 11 holes against the one bogey, and he’s back within two of the lead.

11:30. Final group right now:

Rose: EVEN

McIlroy: EVEN

Schauffele: EVEN

Standing still and moving backwards.

11:28. Here’s another Keegan bomb for those of you no doubt tuning in for the Bradley show.

11:24. Tiger from 142 yards…and he nearly holed it. Skipped just past the hole and zipped past the edge on the way back. That thing took a peek! Four feet left for birdie.

11:20. Bradley, Horschel and Rose were in a share at 17 under… not any more! Billy Horschel just got to 18. This thing is shaping up for a back nine shootout.

11:15. Ooh. Just missed the comebacker and Woods is back to 15 under, two back. That’s a big bogey given the crowded leaderboard.

11:13. Not a great chip for Tiger there — skitters out to some 15 feet at No. 10.

11:12. Whoops! Schauffele now one back again. Just made birdie to get to -16.

11:08. For those of you on Ryder Cup watch, Xander-mania has slowed a bit. Schauffele is +1 for the day and Finau may catch him straight up.

11:05. “Deluxe” lie for TW in the fairway bunker, 128 yards out. Water short, mind you. But he appeared to thin that one, as it skipped just over the back of the green. Up and down attempt coming.

11:02. Here is the highlight you requested!

11:00. Tiger blasts that one down the right side at No. 10 and finds a fairway bunker at the par 4. Should have a decent look despite the trouble.

10:57. No problem! Woods is one back after pouring that one straight in the center. Yowza.

10:55. Super-slow 70-footer for Tiger putting straight up the hill, with LaCava tending the flag. It’s a big time left-to-righter and he smoked it past the hole some 10-12 feet. That’ll be a downhill swinger coming back.

10:52. So far, the leaders going into the day are holding steady, which is bringing a large number of people into contention. I type this as another Rory bid slides by the edge, and 13 players are within three shots of the lead at the moment.

10:50. Tiger finds the front edge of the green at No. 9. It’s a par-5 today, though the tees are way up. He’ll have a lengthy eagle putt to a back pin.

10:45. Billy Horschel rolls in a birdie putt to tie for the lead! He and Rose share 1st at 17 under. Tiger is plugged in the fairway at No. 9. Soggy and delightful out here.

10:40. This was pretty fun.

10:35. Hey folks, Dylan Dethier here to guide you home! We have a hell of a finish ahead of us here at Aronimink. Tiger just poured in a par putt at 8 to stay two back. Keegan Bradley just joined Billy Horschel and Rory McIlroy at 16 under in T2. And Justin Rose continues to lead. C’mon and join the rest of the way!