x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Bradley stages comeback to steal Bridgestone Invitational from Furyk

A last gasp double-bogey from Jim Furyk handed Keegan Bradley victory at Akron last night - and boosted the player's Ryder Cup prospects.

Keegan Bradley celebrates his par putt on the 18th at Firestone Country Club to secure the Bridgestone Invitational
Keegan Bradley celebrates his par putt on the 18th at Firestone Country Club to secure the Bridgestone Invitational

OHIO, USA// Keegan Bradley can start preparing himself for a Ryder Cup debut next month - thanks to Jim Furyk discovering again what a cruel game golf can be.

Back on the Firestone course where he lost a seven-hole play-off to Tiger Woods 11 years ago, Furyk was one ahead with one to play at the Bridgestone Invitational last night.

But the 42-year-old is still waiting for the first World Golf Championship victory of his career after he double-bogeyed it moments after Bradley made a 15-foot par putt.

Instead of making a huge leap towards an eighth Ryder Cup cap, Furyk moved only from 15th to 11th in the standings a week before the top eight earn automatic places in Davis Love's side.

Bradley, on the other hand, is up from ninth to fourth as he heads into his defence of the USPGA Championship, the final major of the season, at Kiawah Island.

"I still can't believe it," said the 26-year-old, looking almost as stunned as when he won the first major he had ever played in last August - from five behind with three holes to play.

This time he was six strokes adrift with 13 holes remaining, but he closed the gap to one and then saw Furyk flop a chip over a bunker into more rough, hit his next shot to five feet and miss it.

"There's no way I should have made worse than five," said the long-time leader.

"I've no one to blame but myself and when things go wrong it's an empty pit.

"I'm disappointed - I saw my boys crying after the round and I guess it reminds you as an adult and a parent that you have to act in the proper way and do and say the right things.

"At worst I should be in a play-off. If I put the third shot on the green I put a lot of pressure on him to make that putt.

"For my fifth shot I hit the worst putt of the week."

The good news for Furyk, of course, is that even if he does not make it into the Ryder Cup top eight next Sunday night he is favourite now for one of Love's four wild cards - especially after winning all his five games in the Presidents Cup last season.

Despite having won the USPGA title Bradley was not chosen for that, Fred Couples instead picking Tiger Woods and FedEx Cup play-off winner Bill Haas.

The player pushed out of an automatic qualifying spot by Bradley's victory was Hunter Mahan, whose loss to Graeme McDowell gave Europe the win at Celtic Manor two years ago.

Mahan is another near-certain wild card if he needs it, however, and as things stand Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson would probably complete a powerful-looking line-up.

Stricker matched Bradley's closing 64 to be joint runner-up with Furyk in Akron, leaving Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose joint top Europeans in a share of fifth.

Tiger Woods tied for eighth with, among others, world number one Luke Donald and fellow Englishman Lee Slattery.


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