Keegan Bradley played like the 2011 PGA champion he is.
The 36-year-old Bradley closed with a two-under-par 68 to beat Rickie Fowler and Andrew Putnam by one stroke in the Zozo Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan.
“It’s not going to be easy, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Bradley, who claimed his fifth PGA Tour victory, but the first since the 2018 BMW Championship. “Things aren’t easy for me normally. Of my five, I haven’t really won that many leading the entire day like I did today. I really learned a lot and I think I can take a lot of that going forward the rest of the year.
“This (victory) is high up there. I really put a lot of work in during this off season and this is what I want to do. I want to win tournaments. I want to play Ryder Cups. I want to be in the conversation and this is a good start.
“I’ve been crying since I finished. I can’t remember the last time I cried.”
Bradley made bogeys on two of the last five holes, but sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to regain his two-stroke lead and after closing with a par posted a winning score of 15-under 265.
Fowler, seeking his sixth PGA Tour victory and first since the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open, was at least tied for the lead after the second and third rounds, but made only his second birdie on the last hole in a closing 70, while Putnam, who played college golf at Pepperdine and was seeking his first PGA win, also birdied the last hole for a second straight 68.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Fowler, from Murrieta in Southern California. “Obviously, I wanted to get the job done. “The final round, I haven’t been there with a chance to win a whole lot in the last couple of years.”
Emiliano Grillo of Argentina was two shots back in solo fourth after collecting seven birdies in a 64, while Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills and Pepperdine birdied the last two holes for a 67 to wind up three down in a tie for fifth with Hayden Buckley, who made only one bogey in a 68, and 11th-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway, who eagled the 14th hole and added two late birdies in a 69.
Cameron Champ of Sacramento birdied the last hole for a 69 to finish four strokes behind in solo eighth, while sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, who won the 2021 Olympic Gold Medal in Tokyo, had six birdies in a 65 and wound up five down in a tie for ninth with Matthew NeSmith, who birdied the last hole for a 69, and Tom Hoge, who birdied No. 17 in another 69.
Tom Kim of South Korea, the 20-year-old rising star who won two of his previous four starts, shot 69 to tie for 25th, defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan tied for 40th after a 71, and ninth-ranked Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal closed with a 70 to tie for 45th.
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