‘I can’t believe this is real’: Keegan Bradley holds on late to win 2023 Travelers Championship for emotional victory.
At the 2019 Travelers Championship, it was Keegan Bradley who couldn’t catch up to eventual winner Chez Reavie at TPC River Highlands.
On Sunday it was the opposite.
Bradley entered the final round in Cromwell, Connecticut with a one shot lead over Reavie and extended that to a three-shot win at 23 under at the 2023 Travelers Championship, the sixth of his PGA Tour career and second of the season.
After a hot start, the Woodstock, Vermont, native had a disappointing finish, but his 2-under 68 was good enough to hold off Zac Blair (62) and Brian Harman (64), who finished T-2 at 20 under. Reavie (71), Scottie Scheffler (65) and Patrick Cantlay came in at T-4 at 19 under, with Rory McIlroy (64) and Denny McCarthy (67) T-7 at 18 under.
“Feels unbelievable. I literally can’t believe it,” said Bradley, who used to visit the tournament as a kid. “It was a really stressful day. I’m so glad it’s over. Today was a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Bradley began the day with a one-shot advantage over Reavie at 21 under before McIlroy joined the fray and climbed into third at 17 under after he made birdie on five of his first eight holes. Birdies on Nos. 3, 4 and 6 – as well as a Reavie bogey on No. 5 – saw Bradley’s lead extend to five shots before the turn, where he put his round on cruise control with par on Nos. 7-10.
That’s when Blair climbed into contention thanks to a stellar finish that saw him play his final six holes at 5 under to post a number at 20 under. As if he were on cue, Bradley made consecutive birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 to take a six stroke advantage with as many to play. Cantlay and Harman picked apart the back nine to join the group in second at 20 under and put some late pressure on Bradley.
A rare blemish occurred on the par-5 13th after Bradley rinsed his tee shot in the pond down the right side of the fairway. He scrambled his way to his first bogey of the day and just his second of the week before he added another on No. 14. By then Cantlay had made his third straight birdie just ahead on No. 15 to move to 21 under, just three back of Bradley who then had four to play.
“I wasn’t hitting that bad of shots. I didn’t hit a great shot on 13, but that’s how those holes are. Like you know you can make — you can birdie them and you can bogey them all,” said Bradley of his squirrelly stretch. “I just luckily played good enough to where I could afford — that’s my only bad stretch of the tournament, and luckily I was ahead enough.”
Bradley missed a short birdie putt on No. 15, but Cantlay left him off the hook after he left his par putt short to drop back to 20 under alongside Blair and Harman. The par on No. 15 briefly plugged the hole in Bradley’s round, but he continued to take on water after another poor tee shot on the par-3 16th led to yet another bogey, cutting his lead to just three.
From there, Bradley clutched up with a pair of par saves on his final two holes and was serenaded with chants of his name on the 18th green.
“I am lucky enough in my life to live out some of my dreams, and that was certainly one of them,” said Bradley of the moment. “I can’t believe this is real.”
Across 17 starts this season, Bradley now has two wins following his victory at the Zozo Championship in the fall, a runner up at the Farmers Insurance Open and four additional top-10 finishes. Bradley had earned $4,977,110 entering this week, a personal record for money earned in a single season on Tour. The Travelers win, a designated event, will add $3.6 million and increase that total number to $8,577,110 on the season with plenty more events, not to mention the FedEx Cup playoffs, still to follow.
It was also a big week for Blair, whose 8-under 62 was the low round of the day on Sunday. The 32-year-old underwent shoulder surgery to his right labrum and missed nearly two years on Tour before he returned to action last July on a major medical exemption.
“Shoulder feels good,” said Blair. “Kind of every week is different, though.”
In 17 starts this season Blair has missed 10 cuts, but of the seven he’s made, three finishes came inside the top 25, with a top 10 at the Valspar Championship back in March and his T-2 this week.
The Tour now heads to the Donald Ross-designed Detroit Golf Club for the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic, June 29-July 2, as the season gears up for the looming FedEx Cup Playoffs.