Keegan Bradley emerged victorious from a playoff against Justin Rose at the BMW Championship to claim his fourth career PGA Tour title, and first in over six years.
Reaching 20-under for the week, Bradley, a former PGA Champion, won for the first time since the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
The Vermont native may have been the star of the day, but nobody should feel too badly for Rose, who by reaching the No. 1 position in the Official World Golf Rankings, achieved a career milestone in his solo-runner-up.
With just one week to go in the FedExCup Playoffs, Bradley and Rose have put themselves in prime position for perhaps a $10 million payday.
FINAL TOP 10
Pos-Player-To Par-Final Round
1 Keegan Bradley -20 (-6)
2 Justin Rose -20 (-3)
3 Billy Horschel -19 (-6)
3 Xander Schauffele -19 (-3)
5 Rory McIlroy -18 (-2)
6 Tiger Woods -17 (-5)
6 Webb Simpson -17 (-5)
8 Rickie Fowler -16 (-1)
8 Tommy Fleetwood -16 (-1)
8 Francesco Molinari -16 (-3)
8 Tony Finau -16 (-5)
12 Justin Thomas -15
15 Hideki Matsuyama -14
19 Brooks Koepka -12
19 Bryson DeChambeau -12
24 Dustin Johnson -11
24 Jason Day -11
24 Jon Rahm -11
29 Henrik Stenson -10
51 Ian Poulter -4
51 Adam Scott -4
55 Jordan Spieth -3
55 Patrick Cantlay -3
58 Phil Mickelson -2
Full Leaderboard: Money& Points
Through 72 holes
Driving: 291.7 yards (45th)
Fairways: 75% (42/56) (T17)
Greens: 75% (54/72) (T50th)
Putting: 1.537/83 putts (1st)
Scores: 28 Birdies, 36 Pars, 8 Bogeys
Key Stretch: Bradley strung together four birdies in a five hole stretch (Nos. 5-9) to move into the hunt.
HOW KEEGAN BRADLEY WON THE BMW CHAMPIONSHIP
A prodigious rainstorm put an end to the Sunday finish that the BMW Championship preferred, but the weather stayed just good enough for the entire 70-man field to get in 18 holes on Monday.
Bradley, who entered the final round three off the pace, went birdie-par-par-bogey out of the gate, but picked up the pace down the stretch, reeling off four birdies in a five-hole stretch (Nos. 5-9), to turn in 4-under 31.
After four more pars to start his inward-nine, the 2011 PGA winner added three birdies on Nos. 14, 16, and 17 to take the lead at 21-under par.
Up by one with one to play, Bradley’s nerves got the better of him, though, as he proceeded to miss the fairway with his tee shot, and then hit the grandstands on his approach, en route to a final-hole bogey. Rose, meanwhile, made birdie on the 17th, good for a two-shot swing, and a one-shot advantage
Surprisingly, the 38-year old Englishman also made a mess of 18, and after his par-putt lipped out, he signed for a disappointing bogey and a 20-under par total.
In overtime, both players missed the green and chipped on, but Rose missed a five-foot par putt, allowing Bradley to tap in for his fourth career victory.
“I can’t remember a week of playing so solid from start to finish. It was really all week I’ve played great,” said Bradley.
“That par putt I made on Saturday night was so huge because — for two reasons: One, I didn’t know if we were coming back and I knew I needed that to make the TOUR Championship.
“And obviously now coming back and playing, I needed that putt. I made two par putts on 17 and 18 that day that really kept me in it and was the difference really.”
For the week, Bradley led the field in birdies, but more surprisingly, the notoriously poor putter finished first in the Aronimink field in strokes gained: putting.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR BRADLEY
Starting the week at 52nd in the FedExCup Standings, Bradley needed a tremendous week to crack the top 30 and earn a trip to the FedExCup Playoff finale at East Lake. He got it, and more.
He will be heading to the Tour Championship in 6th place, and while that is one spot outside the top 5, Bradley has created many scenarios where he can take the title for the first time.
Bradley admitted that the transition to a new putting style following the belly putter ban was more difficult than he anticipated.
“Yeah, a lot has happened to me over these six years,” said Bradley, who reached No. 10 in the world before the ban.
“The belly putter was a tougher transition than I thought, and I kind of fell off the radar there for a little while.
“It’s tough to go from being on Ryder Cup teams, being on Presidents Cup teams to not even — outside the top 100 in the world. That was difficult. I had to really sit down with my coach Darren May, and we put a schedule together, and we worked hard to get back to this spot.”
Bradley scored his fifth top 10 of the year at Aronimink, his second-consecutive year reaching that total. His putting was a problem all year, aside from this week, but he asserted himself as one of the PGA Tour’s top shotmakers this season, finishing second in strokes gained: approach-the-green.
With his victory, Bradley also secured a position at The Masters, a tournament he had not currently been qualified for, as his five-year exemption for winning the 2011 PGA Championship had run out.
The 32-year old Vermont native earned $1,650,000, along with 2,000 points and 72 OWGR points to move from 66 to 32 in the world rankings.
FIELD SET FOR EAST LAKE
The third event of the four-tournament FedExCup Playoffs, 40 participants in the 70 man BMW Championship field were eliminated from the playoffs today. Just two golfers played their way into the top 30 from outside: Bradley, who jumped from 52nd to 6th, and Xander Schauffele, whose T3 finish at Aronimink moved from from 41st to 18th in the standings.
To make way for Bradley and Schauffele, two players who began the week inside the top 30 moved out. Most notable was Jordan Spieth, whose surprisingly mediocre PGA Tour season came to an end, as his 55th place finish dropped him from 27th to 31st in the standings.
“It’s awesome. Been a long week. So, it will settle in on flight home,” said Schauffele, when told he’d moved to 18th and would be able to defend his 2017 title.
“Definitely feel like I need some rest like everyone else out here. Looking forward to going to Atlanta.”
The other player to drop out was Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, who at T61, moved from 29th to 32nd in the standings. The final position at East Lake went to Marc Leishman, who shot a Monday 2-under 68 to finish T41.
With a points reset at the Tour Championship, the top five players in the FedExCup Standings are guaranteed to win the FedExCup Championship with a victory at East Lake. Those players are:
1. Bryson DeChambeau
2. Justin Rose
3. Tony Finau
4. Dustin Johnson
5. Justin Thomas
FINAL RYDER CUP PICK
Perhaps the biggest subplot for the BMW Championship was the final position on the American Ryder Cup Team. Captain Jim Furyk named three of his four captain’s picks after last week’s Dell Technologies Championship, and with just one to go, there were a number of players in the Aronimink field hoping to catch Furyk’s eye.
In the end, the player Furyk picked was the one who was believed to have the best chance coming into the week: Tony Finau.
With his co-Tour leading 11th top 10 finish of the year, and his third in three weeks of the FedExCup Playoffs, Finau made himself difficult to leave off the team.
The world No. 17 will be one of just two Ryder Cup Rookies on the American team (Bryson DeChambeau).
JUSTIN ROSE MOVES TO NO. 1
Justin Rose was disappointed with losing the BMW Championship in a playoff, which would have been the 10th career victory for the 38-year-old from England. But he is not leaving Philadelphia unhappy, as his solo runner-up finish raises him to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time.
“Amazing achievement. I’d love to go there by winning because obviously I want to get to No. 1 by winning golf tournaments, but today was fun,” said Rose, who owns three runner-up finishes in his last five starts.
“I birdied 16, 17. I knew Keegan was ahead of me doing the same thing, so I kind of was responding to that. Hit a great putt in regulation to win it, but then obviously it was a poor playoff, just — kind of glued coming out of that fringe there and then I under-read the putt.
“Yeah, delighted to be world No. 1. Yeah, it’s boyhood dreams; know what I mean?”
Rose has had an incredible past year worldwide, notching one top-10 after another. On the PGA Tour, he had two wins on the year, plus three runner-ups.
The 2013 U.S. Open Champion also finished runner-up at the recent Open Championship, one of three in his last five starts. He has just one missed cut on the season, which occurred at the playoff-opening Northern Trust. He bounced back from that unlikely failure with a solo-second at last week’s Dell Technologies Championship.
The second-straight runner-up finish came with a second-consecutive check for $972,000, along with 1,200 points, which moves him to No. 2 in the standings behind only Bryson DeChambeau.
As he is everywhere he goes, Tiger Woods had the most fanfare, by far, of anyone in the field, and for a time, it looked like his winless drought, which dates back to the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational, would be the one getting snapped today.
The 18-hole co-leader was five strokes behind Rose coming into the final round, but with four birdies on the front nine, he hit the back just one stroke off the lead. A bogey on 10, plus another on 13, prevented a result that would have sent the golf world ablaze, but with a 5-under 65, Tiger finished in a tie for 6th place, his best finish since he took solo runner-up honors at last month’s PGA Championship.
If Tiger is going to end his winless drought this season, he has just one more opportunity.
The man who finished second in the Aronimink field in strokes gained: approach-the-green is 20th in the FedExCup Standings, meaning he has one of the 30 spots available for the Tour Championship, which was one of Woods’ pre-season goals.
“To make the Ryder Cup team and get back to East Lake, that was a pretty big goal at the beginning of the year and to be able to accomplish that is something I’m very proud of,” said Woods, the PGA Tour’s only two-time FedExCup winner (2007, 2009).
“I’ll represent the United States over there and also compete I guess as the top players on the Tour.”
For a while, it appeared that the BMW Championship winner could be a man who lit up the playoffs in 2014: Billy Horschel.
The winner of both the BMW Championship and Tour Championship in 2014, Horschel carded five front-nine birdies and shot a 6-under 64 on Monday to tie Bradley for the low round of the day.
Unfortunately for Horschel, it was one stroke short of reaching the Aronimink playoff, but at No. 9 in the FedExCup Standings, he will have chance to tie Tiger Woods as the only players to win two FedExCup Championships.
Tying Woods and Finau at 5-under for the day was Webb Simpson, who was bogey-free on the day. A second consecutive 65 was his 8th top 10 of the season, and will send him to East Lake in the 11 spot for the Tour Championship.
U.S. Open and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka, looked back in top form on Monday. Koepka rose 14 spots on the leaderboard after a final round 4-under 66, leading to a T19 finish. Koepka did not putt well at Aronimink, but his big-game ability will still make him among the favorites at East Lake.
After a poor opening-round 1-over 71, Tommy Fleetwood shot consecutive 62s in the middle rounds to get himself into BMW Championship contention, sitting just two strokes behind Rose coming into the final round.
However, Fleetwood looked much more like his Thursday self again, carding early bogeys on 3 and 4 to set himself back early. He had just three birdies on the day, leading to a pedestrian 1-under 69 to finish T8 for the week. Fleetwood holds the 19 spot in the FedExCup Standings.
Masters Champion Patrick Reed was one shot worse than Fleetwood on Monday, shooting an even-par 70 to also finish T19. It was actually his best finish in his past 8 starts, however, and he hopes that will give him some momentum as the Ryder Cup draws near.
Scott Piercy has been quiet, since he and Horschel finished first as a team at the Zurich Classic earlier this year, but he jumped into contention at Aronimink with a 64 on Friday and a 65 on Saturday. However, he was abysmal on Monday, shooting a 6-over 76 that dropped him 30 spots down the leaderboard to T45, which kept him well outside the top 30 of the FedExCup Standings.