Keegan Bradley ended a four-year title drought at the PGA Tour's Zozo Championship in Japan
Inzai (Japan) (AFP) - Keegan Bradley said he could contend for another major title after ending a four-year drought on the US PGA Tour by winning the Zozo Championship in Japan on Sunday.
Bradley won his lone major at the PGA Championship in 2011 but he has struggled to build on that success and he had not claimed a US PGA Tour title since the 2018 BMW Championship.
He snapped his skid in dramatic fashion at Narashino Country Club, nailing a 15-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole after a late wobble to pull away from Rickie Fowler and Andrew Putnam.
Bradley said he believed the long-awaited title would “go a long way” towards putting him back into contention for major honours.
“For me, I feel like I should be contending for tournaments – I want to be contending to play on Ryder Cup, President’s Cup teams, majors,” said the 36-year-old.
“I really learned a lot and I think I can take a lot of that going forward the rest of the year.”
Bradley began the day one stroke behind Fowler but jumped into the lead after back-to-back birdies on the fifth and sixth holes.
He looked to be in control after birdying the 11th but he bogeyed the 14th and then got into real trouble when he shanked a wild shot out of the 16th bunker.
He ended up bogeying that hole too but an ice-cold birdie putt on the 17th gave him a two-shot lead heading into the final hole as Fowler and Putnam faltered.
Bradley closed out with a par to take the title and said he had “never experienced emotions like that” in his career.
“I hit that birdie on 17 and it was one of the best birdies of my life – one that when I think back on this tournament, that’s the pivotal hole,” he said.
“I was never going to give up, I knew I was still in a good spot to win the tournament.”
- ‘Bittersweet’ for Fowler -
Bradley finished on 15-under par on 265, one shot ahead of Fowler and Putnam.
Fowler was looking to end his own title drought, stretching back three-and-a-half years to the 2019 Phoenix Open.
The three-time major runner-up and former world number four said it was “bittersweet” after hitting two birdies and two bogeys in a final round of level par 70.
“Final round, haven’t been there a whole lot in the last couple of years, really just didn’t give myself many opportunities until the end,” said 33-year-old Fowler.
“And I hit some darn good putts that it was like there was a cover over the hole. Gave it our all, left it all out there.”
Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama finished off a frustrating week with a 71 to finish three under in a tie for 40th.
Japan’s only male major winner has been followed by thousands of fans around the course all week but he was never in title contention.
“I was looking to win the title and nothing else, so there’s nothing I can really take from this week – it’s disappointing,” he said.
Matsuyama did give the fans something to cheer with a closing birdie on the 18th hole.
“I thought ‘finally, my touch and line have come together as I wanted them to’,” he said.
“There were a lot of people in the gallery there so I’m glad I was able to score a birdie for them.”
Tokyo Olympic gold-medallist Xander Schauffele had his best round of the week, carding a 65 to finish in a tie for ninth place at 10-under par 270.