Champion of champions

PGA Champion Keegan Bradley won his first PGA Grand Slam title on Wednesday as he edged Charl Schwartzel by a single shot in a final round that tightened up on the front nine and remained nip-and-tuck the rest of the way home.


Keegan Bradley got a congratulatory hug from his family after sinking the winning putt. (Getty Images)

By Josh Ball, Contributor

SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda -- Keegan Bradley watched Charl Schwartzel rattle off four birdies to win the Masters on television. He got to see what the South African can do first-hand at the PGA Grand Slam Wednesday.

Bradley grabbed a narrow one-shot victory at Port Royal Golf Course, holing a nervy 5-footer on the 18th hole to complete a level-par 71, which left him 4 under for the tournament. The PGA Champion's round was enough to enable him to hold off a determined charge from Schwartzel, who shot a course record-tying 6-under 65 to finish one shot back at 3 under.

Schwartzel sunk a 30-foot putt at No. 5 to kick-start a run of five consecutive birdies, which he capped off at No. 9 when he chipped in from a greenside bunker having sent his approach long.

With overnight co-leaders Bradley and Rory McIlroy, who began the day on 4 under, dropping shots, Schwartzel reached the turn with a tie for the lead at 2 under.

"What he (Schwartzel) did in the middle part of that round was pretty amazing," said Bradley. "It felt like he was going to birdie every hole and then when he was hitting a bad shot, he made that bunker shot on 9, it was pretty spectacular golf."

Bradley edged ahead with a birdie at 10, and while the pair wrestled for the lead from then on, Bradley never lost that one-shot advantage. Schwartzel bogeyed No. 13 when he missed the green on the tricky par 3, and though he got the shot back at 15, Bradley stayed solid and was the only one of the group to hit the 16th green in high winds.

After hitting what he called the best shot of his life to eagle No. 7 in the first round, Bradley hit an equally good approach at No. 17 on Wednesday, though he gave most of the credit for that to his caddie Steve Hale.

"Pepsi (Hale) talked me into hitting that 3-hybrid and it was the right club," said Bradley. "I actually wanted to hit a 4."

Reaching the green in two was essential for Bradley as Schwartzel had already done so, and both birdied to take the Grand Slam down to the final hole.

On in two, Schwartzel had a 30-foot snaking downhill putt for birdie and Bradley fully expected him to make it. The American, who missed the green with his approach, said he stood over his chip expecting to have to get up and down to make a playoff.

In the end, Schwartzel's attempted slipped agonizingly wide of the hole and Bradley had a 5-footer to win.

"It was a lot more intense than I thought it was going to be," said Bradley. "Coming down the stretch it felt like any other tournament that I played in. At 18, I was thinking to myself, 'I'd better get this up-and-down and maybe get into a playoff.

"I was very nervous over that 5-footer to win."

Schwartzel's round was all the more impressive considering the wind that swirled around the course Wednesday, although the Masters champion said he knew that a change in the conditions was his only chance of making a run at the leaders.

"I was happy to see the wind up there," said Schwartzel, "I know I can play well in the wind. I could see Keegan and Rory, they weren't making as many birdies and were coming back a little bit.

"I knew I could make it up. I didn't think I was going to make five (birdies) in a row and shots like the chip at 9, you get that feeling that maybe this is going to be another one of those days."

McIlroy's challenge ended with wild shots at Nos. 7 and 15, and though he chipped in to save par at 15 he was 1 under at that point and chasing the leaders in a round when, once again, he couldn't get a putt to drop.

A bogey at No. 16, when he missed the green, dropped him back to 4 over for the day, level par for the tournament, and that was where he finished.

"I didn't quite have control of the golf ball like I did yesterday," said McIlroy, "It was tough, the wind out there was tough. I got off to a pretty decent start but bogeying the seventh, a pretty easy par 5, wasn't ideal. And then, you follow that up with two other bogeys. Obviously I still had a chance going into the back nine, I just didn't do enough when I needed to."

Darren Clarke was never in the hunt following his opening-round 77, but at 1 under through nine holes he at least looked like earning some respectability on the second day. That ended with four bogeys on the back side, and consecutive bogeys at 14 and 15 dropped him to 3 over for the round and 9 over for the tournament.