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Monday, August 15, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 PGA Championship

Winner: Keegan Bradley

Around the wider world of golf: Danielle Kang won the U.S. Women's Amateur over Moriya Jutanugarn and became the first woman to successfully defend her title in 15 years; Steve Friesen won the Price Cutter Charity Championship on the Nationwide Tour; Sun-Ju Ahn won the NEC Karuizawa 72 on the JLPGA; and Mo Martin won the Eagle Classic on the LPGA Futures Tour.

Keegan Bradley with the Wannamaker Trophy

Alas, the Chubby Slam is not to be, as an American finally broke the U.S. winless streak in majors. But Keegan Bradley is Irish-American, so I guess everybody's happy.

I know his aunt Pat Bradley is. She joined GC's Live from the PGA Championship by phone, and you could hear her ringing her bell loud and clear. (On the outside chance you missed it, Pat's family used to ring a bell after every one of Pat's LPGA wins. That tradition has been revived for her nephew.)

This is Keegan's second "belling" this year, the first coming after his win at the Byron Nelson. Keegan is only a rookie, but he now has two wins (one a major, of course), has likely locked up the Rookie of the Year award, and is definitely in the running for the Player of the Year award. He jumps from 107 to 29 in the OWGR. I'd be surprised if he hasn't found his way onto Fred Couples's Presidents Cup list as well.

In addition, he becomes only the third man to win in his first major appearance -- the first two being Ben Curtis at the 2003 Open Championship and Francis Ouimet in the 1913 U.S. Open -- and the first player to win a major while using a belly putter. (I'm sure that last one is really important to him.)

Unfortunately, Keegan will probably give little attention to his sudden rise in the Ruthless Golf World Rankings -- he's now #5. Since Martin Kaymer lost his major this week, dropping his total wins to 3 (none of which happened since January), he drops down in the rankings. Jhonattan Vegas suffered the same fate earlier in the year, as his 3 wins are also too old to count more than a recent major and another recent win... or even just a recent major. Keegan leapfrogged over Rory McIlroy, who was previously #6 but had only the single major. (Rory tweeted a "welcome to the club" message to Keegan, in case you didn't hear. Ah, they're a friendly bunch, those young guns... especially when they're both Irish, right? Smiley I told you everybody was happy!)

Everybody will be talking -- and rightfully so -- about Keegan's guts and perseverance and character and approachability, but I for one am glad to see that both he and Jason Dufner (who I suspect will use this as a springboard to his first win very soon) successfully proved that hitting fairways and greens is a basic golf skill. Perhaps more players -- especially all those who lost because they simply couldn't hit the dang ball straight -- will decide to acquire these useful skills. When two players with such different driving distances end up beating the best in the world just by putting their shots in the short grass, it ought to be a lesson for everybody.

In the meantime, let me send out this Limerick Summary to the newest major champion. Feel free to ring 'em if you got 'em:
On a course where so many played badly
For a major they wanted so madly,
Keegan couldn't be cowed.
Aunt Pat sure is proud
As again the bell rings for a Bradley!
The photo came from the PGA.com photo gallery.

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