Keegan Bradley (Getty Images)
Keegan Bradley snatched victory on the 18th green at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational to deny Jim Furyk.
A week before the defence of his US PGA Championship title, the 26 year old holed a 20 foot par putt, and with Furyk finding first the greenside bunker then rough and missing his five footer for bogey, Bradley took the spoils.
Four behind at the start of the day, he eroded Furyk’s advantage to one over the first 17 holes with six birdies in a blemish-free 64 for a 13 under par total.
South African Louis Oosthuizen, one behind Furyk overnight, had a real rollercoaster of a 69 and eventually finished fourth, with Steve Stricker joining his compatriot Furyk on 12 under.
Bradley was six shots back with only 13 holes left, but pulled off a stunning victory 11 years on from Tiger Woods beating Furyk in a seven-hole play-off on the same Firestone course.
“It just feels so great,” said Bradley. “I just felt so strong coming down the stretch, and most of all I just enjoyed every minute of it.
“My hope standing on the 18th tee was to make birdie and maybe force a playoff. You just never know what's going to happen, especially with that pin on 18 - that's a really difficult pin.”
Furyk had turned three clear thanks largely to a hattrick of gains from the first in a dream start.
Oosthuizen had also birdied the first two but he missed a five footer at the fifth and bogeyed.
Furyk had his first bogey of the day at the sixth, and Oosthuizen looked in trouble too but the former Open Champion parred from 12 feet to reduce the gap to two.
He was not so lucky at the ninth or tenth, however, missing the green with his approach to both and failing to get up and down.
Furyk headed for home with six straight pars, but after seeing Oosthuizen chip in he holed a 30 footer for a birdie of his own at the 16th.
Crucially Bradley followed him in from 20 feet, before the drama at the final hole, where Furyk initially got lucky with his drive bouncing off a tree and onto the fairway.
Both he and Bradley plugged their second in the greenside bunker, but the brilliance of Bradley’s up-and-down mean in only three victories he has already claimed a Major and a WGC crown.
“It was a little bit of a dream start, birdieing the first three,” said Furyk. “I really had a lot of control of the golf ball today.
“I had it in my hand all day, hit some good iron shots, put the ball in the places I needed to, but Keegan played a heck of a back nine. “I felt like I did the same until the 18th hole. I think right now I’m just a little bit in shock with the way I finished up. I turned a five into a six and lost the golf tournament on the last hole - there's no way I should have made double bogey.”
Oosthuizen felt his display this week had given him the perfect preparation for the final Major of 2012 at Kiawah Island next week.
“I've been swinging it well the whole day,” he said. “I'm going to take a lot out of this, and I feel ready for next week.
“The goal this week was to have a good week and get it right next week. What happened on 18 with Jim was sad - he played so beautifully all day. But on the other hand, Keegan did nothing wrong, he played well as well.”