NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa.(Dispatches) - Keegan Bradley had bottomed out, crashing from the high of winning the PGA Championship to tumbling out of the top 100 in the world. His chances to represent U.S. teams in international play had dried up, his preferred putting method was banned, and the confidence that once put him on the cusp of greatness was shot.
"It's scary when I look back, because I didn't know I needed this much improvement," Bradley said.
He was like a scientist in the lab, changing his swing, his putting stroke, his fundamentals - investing in the work needed to get to where he was Monday on soggy Aronimink: going head-to-head in a sudden-death playoff against the new No. 1 player in the world, Justin Rose.
For a player who had to reinvent his game, the clutch moment didn't seem so scary.
Bradley topped Rose with a par on the first playoff hole to win the rain-plagued BMW Championship for his first PGA Tour victory in six years.
Bradley's fourth career win meant a bit more than the others - yes, even the major he won in 2011 - because he held more than a trophy and a $1.62 million check. He also got to give his young son Logan a victory toss in the air on the 18th green for the first time. Bradley, who shot a final round 6-under 64 to finish at 20-under 260, thrust his arms toward the gray sky and drizzle in celebration and waved his family toward him to bring them in for a lengthy embrace.
Rose left Aronimink with a new reality as well. Though he was runner-up at the FedEx Cup playoff event, he didn't come up short in the world ranking. Rose moved No. 1 in the world ahead of Dustin Johnson and became the 22nd player to reach the top spot since the ranking began in 1986.
Rose could have won in regulation, but his 16-foot par putt on the final hole lipped out to force the playoff.
He fell short again in the playoff, missing a 5-foot par putt that would have kept him alive. The 38-year-old Rose had grown to love suburban Philadelphia golf courses with wins at the 2010 AT&T National at Aronimink and the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion.
He didn't get a trophy on this trip. But a No. 1 ranking will do for Rose, who joins Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald as the only Englishmen to reach the top spot. He is the No. 2 seed behind Bryson DeChambeau among the top 30 who advance to the Tour Championship starting Sept. 20 at East Lake in Atlanta, giving him a clear shot at the US$10 million prize.
*****Keegan Bradley poses with the two trophies following the BMW Championship golf tournament at the Aronimink Golf Club, Sept 10, 2018, in Newtown Square, Pa.