Entering Sunday’s action at the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Championship, the story was Keegan Bradley’s quest to become the first wire-to-wire champion at the event since Tom Watson in 1980. After Sunday’s play, however, the focus shifted to a very different topic in that of the first PGA Tour win for South Korea’s Sang-Moon Bae.
Bae had won 11 times previously on other tours (Korea, Japan, and Asian, to be exact), but the attention was understandably on Bradley, who led by one shot on the strength of an insane Thursday round that saw him shoot a 60 despite two bogeys. However, Bae seized control early in Sunday’s round, making 4 birdies in a 5-hole stretch to mount a 4-shot lead by the time the duo reached the back nine.
Bradley, the 2011 PGA Champion, made a strong comeback to even things with a birdie at the 15th hole, but his putter betrayed him late in the round, and Bae was able to hold on for a 2-shot victory.
The playing conditions were on the extreme side at the TPC Four Seasons, as wind gusted to nearly 40 MPH throughout the day, but Bae’s ability to shoot a 1-under 69 proved to be enough to grab the title and the $1.2 million first-place purse. In addition to the win itself, Bae’s payday nearly doubled his career earnings on the tour ($1.6 million prior to this week), and his victory gives him increased access to the major championships in the coming year.
It wasn’t to be for Bradley, who will surely remember this week for his 60 on Thursday, but the former PGA Champion will surely be back in contention in short order. For Bae, it is hopefully a sign of things to come, as he played beautifully throughout the four days and certainly displayed high-level skills in route to the first of many wins on the tour.