Grand Slam of Golf: Win for Keegan... as McIlroy blows it
American Keegan Bradley won the PGA Grand Slam of Golf by a shot from Charl Schwartzel in Bermuda yesterday, after Rory McIlroy went from three ahead to four behind with a second-round 75.
With 12 holes to play in the 36-hole event between the year's four major winners, Northern Ireland's US Open champion was firmly on course to be the first European winner since Ian Woosnam in 1991.
But he bogeyed the next three, did not have a birdie all day and instead it was South African Schwartzel who mounted the biggest challenge to Bradley.
From seven strokes adrift at the start of the day, the Masters champion drew level with a sparkling front-nine 31, but could not get back on terms after Bradley birdied the 10th.
They finished four under par and three under respectively, while McIlroy was level par and Darren Clarke, never a factor from the time he bogeyed three of the first four holes, nine over.
That still earned the Open champion more than £125,000, while Bradley took home nearly £380,000.
Bradley, who made a five-foot par putt to win, commented: “To beat some of the best players in the world makes it even more special. It's a really nice way to kind of cap off the year, although I've still got a lot of golf to play.”
McIlroy said: “I didn't quite have control of the golf ball like I did yesterday. The wind was tough, I just didn't do enough when I needed to.”
Clarke, who has decided to stay on in Bermuda for a holiday rather than play in Spain next week, said: “Obviously I haven't played well the past two days. I've just been making a few changes and getting way too steep on my backswing.
“A shame I played so poorly this week — I'm looking forward to a very bad hangover in the morning.”
l BOY wonders are all the rage in European golf, with Tom Lewis (20) winning so spectacularly on the Algarve last Sunday and teenager Matteo Manassero this week defending the Castello Masters title he won in sensational fashion 12 months ago at age 17.
Yet the original ‘El Nino', Sergio Garcia, is expected to recapture confidence of old in his native Castillon after a couple of soul-destroying seasons which seemed to age him far beyond his 31 years.
Garcia won the inaugural Castello Masters as tournament host in 2008, following up a fortnight later with victory at the HSBC Champions ... but he has drawn a blank on the world's leading tours ever since.
His morale was sapped by the break-up of his relationship with Greg Norman's daughter Morgan and a run of terrible form as he dropped to 75th in the world rankings.
Yet he has battled back into the top 50 with a series of encouraging performances. “I'm much more confident about my game now,” he said. “Last year, I was here physically, but not mentally. Now I feel like I am ready to fight.”
Further endorsement came this week from European Ryder Cup skipper Jose Maria Olazabal's insistence that he fully expects Garcia to be in his team in Chicago.
Manassero's decision to part with Coleraine caddie Ryan McGuigan has been perfectly timed for Portstewart's Paul Cutler, who has snapped up his friend.