9: Keegan Bradley, 2011, -1.75
The 2011 championship was conducted for a third time at Atlanta Athletic Club’s 7,467 ard par 70 course. The layout had previously hosted the 1981 and 2001 championships, won respectively by Larry Nelson and David Toms.
Bradley initially disappeared into the field. His Thursday one-over 71 left him eight strokes off the pace set by Steve Stricker. But he made up that ground with a Friday 64 that shot him into a tie for the midway lead with Brendan Steele.
A Saturday 69 positioned Bradley to contend, just one stroke off the pace set jointly by Steele and Jason Dufner. Bradley birdied the opening hole of his final round, tying Dufner for first when Steele’s first hole bogey began a slide that would eventually drop him outside the top 10.
Through the front nine, Dufner, Bradley and Scott Verplank took turns vying for the lead. But when Verplank followed a sixth hole bogey with a succession of pars, Dufner and Bradley gradually pulled away, opening up a two stroke gap between themselves and the field at the turn.
A Bradley eagle at the par 5 12th closed him within one stroke of Dufner, but only until he arrived at the 260-yard par 3 15th. His tee shot missed the green, he chipped back into the nearby lake, and the triple bogey six that resulted seemed to doom his title chances.
But Bradley followed that disaster with birdies and 16 and 17, and when Dufner bogeyed 15, 16 and 17 the two men found themselves in a three-hole aggregate score playoff for the title. Bradley’s approach within four feet at the first playoff hole, the 16th, set up a birdie. He picked up another stroke when Dufner three-putted the 17th, enabling him to survive Dufner’s closing birdie and win by one stroke.