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CROMWELL, Conn. — Keegan Bradley built up a lead big enough in front of the adoring New England fans that he broke the Travelers’ Championship record despite a shaky closing stretch, closing with a 2-under 68 to seal a three-shot victory Sunday.
Bradley, who went 62-63-64 in the first three rounds, finished at 23-under at 257 at TPC River Highlands, a shot better than Kenny Perry’s previous record from 2009.
With fans chanting his name, the 37-year-old walked to his ball on the 18th green, tossed two feet in the air, threw his arms in the air and let out a whoop. He finished three shots ahead of Zack Blair, who shot a 62, and Brian Harman, who closed with a shot of 64.
“This is for all the kids who grew up in New England and had to put up with winters and watch other people play golf,” said Bradley, who was born in Vermont and also lived in Massachusetts. “I am very proud to win this tournament.”
Bradley had only made one bogey for the week before dropping three shots in his final six holes as nerves seemed to get to him on the PGA Tour and he even said he wanted to win. It was his sixth Tour win and second this season. He won the Zozo Championship in Japan in October.
Bradley birdied the par-4 12th hole to move 5-under on the day and took a six-shot lead. But he cut a tee into the water on the next hole, resulting in a bogey. He also bogeyed on the 14th and 16th holes.
He settled as par in the 17th for all but guarantees himself a victorious rally on the final hole.
“I played great until the last like five or six holes and luckily I had a big enough lead to take home,” said Bradley.
He became the first player from New England to win the title since JJ Henry of Connecticut in 2006.
Blair got his best score on the tour. The 32-year-old from Utah was playing on a major medical exemption after missing nearly two full years due to a torn labrum.
“Basically, I went from playing 18 or 36 holes every day for the last seven or eight years to not touching a club for five, six, seven months,” he said. “It was great though. I get to hang out with my family and put up a golf course and do a lot of other fun things. But obviously it’s better to shoot 62 on Sunday.”
Blair had back-to-back bogeys at numbers 4 and 5, then plunged into a tear with a six birdie and an eagle on the 5th and 13th, hitting his approach of 253 yards inside of 5 feet.
Harman shot his second consecutive par 64.
Patrick Cantlay, who hit 61 on Saturday to come within five batters of the leaders, ran Bradley with three consecutive birdies off a No. 13-15. But he overshot the 16th green, bogeying, and fired his birdie attempt on the 17th. He shot a par 67 for a four-shot finish alongside Scotty Scheffler (65) and 2019 champion Chez Reavie (71), who started the day one shot behind Bradley but didn’t make a birdie until the 14th hole.
Rory McIlroy shot 64 and finished on 18-under after making an early charge. He made five of his first seven holes in front of galleries that were four or five fans deep.
But he shot back in the ninth after his 352-yard drive near the boundary fence settled into a deep rut. Then he missed an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 12.
TPC River Heights has given up eight innings of 62 or better this week.
“I don’t particularly like when it’s a tournament like this,” said McIlroy. “Unfortunately, the technology has passed the course, right? It kind of made it stale, especially as soft as it was with the little rain we had.”
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