Golf's final major ends in thrilling fashion

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Golf's final major ends in thrilling fashion

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 15, 2011
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (AP) -- A rally that ranks among the best. A collapse hardly anyone saw coming. There was even a guy in a red shirt Sunday, pumping his fists with each clutch putt in the final, frenzied hour of the PGA Championship. In a major filled with unfamiliar names, Keegan Bradley delivered an unforgettable finish. Bradley was five shots behind with only three holes to play after his chip shot raced across the 15th green and into the water, leading to a triple bogey. That's when he reminded himself that no lead was safe on the final four holes at Atlanta Athletic Club. "I just kept telling myself, 'Don't let that hole define this whole tournament,'" Bradley said. Instead, it led to one of the most stunning turnarounds in a major. Bradley made back-to-back birdies, including a 35-footer with a belly putter that rattled into the cup on the 17th. Then came a monumental meltdown by Jason Dufner. Unflappable all afternoon, he hit his tee shot in the water on the 15th for the first of three straight bogeys that led to a three-hole playoff. Bradley birdied the 16th hole in the playoff -- his first outright lead of the day -- and went on to win by one shot. The son of a PGA professional in Vermont, wearing red for his alma mater -- St. John's -- Bradley became only the third player in at least 100 years to win a major championship in his first try. The Wanamaker at his side, Bradley took out his cell phone and took a picture of the oversized trophy. It wasn't long before he posted it on Twitter with three hash tags -- "pgachampion. triplebogies. happiness." "It feels unbelievable," he said. "It seems like a dream and I'm afraid I'm going to wake up here in the next five minutes and it's not going to be real." The final major of the year was hard to believe in so many ways. It was Bradley, a 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie who was ranked No. 108 in the world, who ended America's longest drought in a major that had reached six. He became only the third player in at least 100 years to win a major on his first try. All this after Tiger Woods missed the cut and finished out of the top 100 for the first time in a major, and U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy -- the favorite at the PGA -- hit a tree root in the opening round and played the rest of the week with his right wrist heavily taped. He tied for 64th and finished 19 shots behind. Then came the finish -- a rousing rally for Bradley, a sad collapse for Dufner. It brought back memories of Ed Sneed making bogey on the last three holes of the 1979 Masters, and even Arnold Palmer losing a seven-shot lead with nine holes left in the 1966 U.S. Open. Dufner played that four-hole finish in 3 under for the week -- never once making a bogey -- until the final round. Sunday was different. He made three bogeys in regulation, another on the 17th in the playoff to fall two shots behind, and a birdie on the last hole in the playoff only made the score seem closer than it was. Dufner, now winless in 148 starts, closed with a 69. "Everybody has struggled on them," Dufner said of the final four holes. "Unfortunately, I had the lead and I struggled on them. ... That was the deciding factor, and Keegan made a couple birdies there, and I made a couple bogeys." Bradley, best known until now as the nephew of LPGA great Pat Bradley, moved to No. 29 in the world. He won earlier this year at the Byron Nelson Championship in a playoff, again after the leader faded on the closing holes. The win makes it seven straight majors by players who had never before captured a Grand Slam event, the longest streak ever. Bradley, who became the first major champion to use a long putter, can only hope more will follow. "I don't want to be one of the guys that kind of disappears," Bradley said. "I would love to be up in a category with the best players and be mentioned with Phil Mickelson, one of my idols. I hope I don't disappear. I don't plan to." Mickelson had been the last American to win a major at the 2010 Masters, and perhaps it was only fitting that one of his proteges ended the drought. Mickelson has been playing money games during practice rounds at the big tournaments with Bradley, wanting him to be prepared to play for something more prestigious than cash. The kid must have taken the lessons to heart. He never gave up when he had every reason to do just that. "This guy's the guttiest player I've ever worked for," said his caddie, Steven "Pepsi" Hale. "There's no quit." Bradley was two shots behind when he arrived at the pivotal stretch of the course. From left of the 15th green, he hit an aggressive chip that came out too hot and rolled into the water, leading to a triple bogey. Dufner watched it all unfold from high on the hill as he waited on the 15th tee, his lead suddenly up to four shots over Anders Hansen, who was in the process of making bogey. For the first time all day, Dufner showed a trace of emotion, wincing slightly when he saw the flight of his tee shot take the ball into the water right of the green. He still poured in a 12-foot putt to at least escape with bogey. His lead was still four shots, and when he split the middle of the 16th fairway, he seemed to be on his way. Then came an unlikely chain of events. Bradley stuffed his shot into 8 feet for birdie on the 16th. Behind him in the final group, Dufner hit into the right bunker, blasted out to 10 feet and made bogey. Now his lead was down to two shots. Dufner arrived on the 17th tee in time to watch as Bradley rattled in a 35-foot putt, pumping his fists as his caddie stood behind the hole holding the flag over his head with both arms. Dufner did well to find the middle of the green for what appeared to be a safe two-putt par. But he ran his first putt 10 feet by the hole and three-putted for bogey. Just like that, they were tied. With the pressure as great as it had been all day, both played the 18th the same way -- dry. Both had long two-putts for par from one side of the green to the other. They finished at 8-under 272. Dufner's 5-iron on the opening hole of the playoff -- the uphill 16th -- came within an inch of hitting the hole and stopped 6 feet away. Bradley answered with a shot into 4 feet and made the birdie, while Dufner missed his putt. On the 17th, Dufner again three-putted for bogey to give Bradley a two-shot lead going to the 18th. The final drama for Bradley was watching his 6-iron descend toward the green, clearing the lake with not much room to spare. Dufner rolled in a birdie, but by then it was too late to recover from his mistakes. "I'm so new at this situation, I don't know if I appreciate it as much as I will -- soon," Dufner said. "I might look back in 10 or 15 years and be disappointed if I never get another chance." They finished one shot ahead of Hansen, whose lone bogey of the final round -- on the 16th hole -- kept him out of the playoff. The Dane closed with a 66, matching the best score of the final round. The group tied for fourth included 2001 champion David Toms (67) and two others who stayed in the game until the very end. Robert Karlsson got within one shot of the lead with a 5-foot eagle putt on the 12th hole. The Swede never made another birdie, though, and finished with three straight bogeys for a 67. Scott Verplank holed out a bunker shot on the 16th and was tied with Bradley going to the 17th, but his tee shot bounced off the wall and into the water for a double bogey. He closed with a 70.

Beleskey, Liles sitting tonight vs. Coyotes

Beleskey, Liles sitting tonight vs. Coyotes

BRIGHTON, Mass. – With the NHL trade deadline a mere one day away, the Bruins will keep two veterans, who could be shipped elsewhere, out of their lineup tonight against the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden.

Matt Beleskey and John-Michael Liles will both be scratches as the B's try to make it seven wins in eight tries under interim coach Bruce Cassidy. Tuukka Rask will get the call between the pipes against the Western Conference foe. The Liles scratch means that Colin Miller draws back in after being the healthy scratch in the Sunday matinee victory in Dallas.

The lines and pairings will look the same as they’ve been most of the time over the past seven mostly successful games. The Bruins will be focused on setting the tone rather than worrying about what the new-look Coyotes are going to do.

“The road trip is behind us and Arizona is in front of us, and that’s about as simple as we can make it,” said Cassidy. “They’re one of the teams that is on our schedule. I’m not being disrespectful at all in any way, shape or form, but our focus is on the Boston Bruins and getting our game in shape to play. Then we’ll make the minor adjustments we have to make.”

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Coyotes based on the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:

 
Marchand-Bergeron-Backes

Cehlarik-Krejci-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Spooner-Hayes

Schaller-Moore-Nash

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller

 
Rask 

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' third line has been reborn under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, and the players are now openly admitting they desperately needed a change.

Claude Julien never trusted Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes enough defensively to play them together, but this line has blossomed under Cassidy: Six goals, 15 points and a plus-11 in seven games. They’ve survived in the defensive zone by rarely playing there. Instead, they push the pace, make plays to keep the puck out of the D-zone and, most importantly, keep producing the secondary offense that wasn’t there in the first 55 games of the season. 

No one has been freed from the shackles more than Spooner, who is back playing his natural center position after being forced to play left wing under Julien. The 25-year-old said Tuesday that getting a clean slate with a new coach has been extremely beneficial to him, and that perhaps he didn't always love playing for the guy now minding the bench in Montreal. 

“I felt like the last coach ... he just didn’t really trust me,” said Spooner, who has two goals and six points along with a plus-1 rating in seven games post-Julien. “It might've been kind of on me not really playing to the potential that I have, but at the same time . . . I just don’t think that he really liked me as a player. It’s kind of in the past now. It’s just a part of the game. It’s up to me to just go out there and just play, and not have that stuff in the back of my mind. 

“I just kind of have to go out there and believe in myself and I think at times I wasn’t really going out there and doing that. Maybe that’s something to learn. This sport has ups and downs, and I’ve had my downs. You learn that you can just sort of push through it. If you do that then things can be good.”

Spooner has 10 goals and 33 points along with a minus-3 this season, and could potentially surpass last year's numbers (13-36-49) in his second full season. 

Most felt that the speedy, skilled Spooner would be one of the big beneficiaries of the move from Julien to Cassidy, and now he’s showing that with a new lease on life in Boston.