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Dublin: 4 °C Saturday 16 December, 2017
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The leader are on the course, but before we get rolling, let’s just set the scene:

Keegan Bradley, who began with a birdie has grabbed a share of the lead with Jason Dufner. Overnight leader Brendan Steele has just bogeyed the first hole to fall one back. He’s tied with Scott Verplank, two ahead of Steve Stricker and Denmark’s Anders Hansen.

A number of players, including Luke Donald and Adam Scott are hanging about on -3.

Bradley -7, Dufner -7, Steele -6, Verplank -6, Stricker -4, Hansen -4.

The camera’s lingering on world number one, Luke Donald, who’s two-under for the day through seven holes and three-under for the tournament. His birdie putt at the eighth wanders past on the right side.

Steve Stricker’s just carded a fairly unforgivable double-bogey on the par-three fourth. A massive pull into the water’s sent him tumbling back down the leaderboard. His birdie at the opening hole was a false dawn, it appears.

Jason Dufner, who looks like he’s wearing one of those comedy baseball caps with a wig attached to it has hit the centre of the third green. Graeme McDowell noted yesterday that the American had a completely unique way of “sauntering” around a golf course. He’s still looking completely relaxed.

Master champion Charl Schwartzel, who’d managed to claw his way to three-under for the tournament, has just found water off the tee at the sixth. Trying to drive the green with a three-wood, he hit a slight pull… terrible error, particularly given how sensible a play the right bunker looked.

Maybe I’m being harsh on Schwartzel, but he’s carrying my money…

Jason Dufner looks pretty ambivalent about his tee shot at the fourth. He shouldn’t, though: a big, high draw with a utility club, it was exactly shot he was looking for. Jittery-looking playing partner Brendan Steele has missed the green on the right. With an in-to-out swing that relies on an awful lot of hand action through impact, he could be looking at a very long day.

Lee Westwood’s just hit another glorious approach, this time to the par-four eleventh. Another agonising near-miss on its way, I suspect. He’s currently one of a number on three-under.

Westwood’s birdie effort at the eleventh slides past on the right-hand side. His putting has been nothing short of painful to watch over the last three-and-a-half days.

Jason Dufner ambles off the fourth green with a par 3. His playing partner, Brendan Steele, has made another bogey.

Luke Donald’s birdie putt at the tenth… FINDS THE BOTTOM OF THE HOLE! He’s suddenly four-under and within three shots of Jason Dufner. Cries of “Luuuuuuuuke” echo around the green.

Dufner’s tee shot at the fifth finds the centre of the fairway. His pre-shot waggles are still the most energetic looking part of this golf swing. How long will that last? Butch Harmon suspects the pressure will begin to tell.

Anders Hansen becomes the latest player to attempt to drive the short par-4 sixth, but he’s the first we’ve seen do it successfully! His ball trickles onto the right edge of the green, leaving the Dane a fifteen-foot eagle putt. Currently at four-under-par, he’s about to find himself thrust into the heart of the action.

Just a quick look at the leaderboard:

Dufner -7, Bradley -6, Verplank -6, Brendan Steele -5, Anders Hansen-5 (who’s two-putted the sixth for birdie).

Donald, Karlsson and Scott are tied at -4.

The smooth-swinging Dufner’s just missed a green! And as if to hint at the scale of the tension bubbling under the surface, he shows a little frustration.

His partner, Brendan Steele, has put his second shot in a bush and will be playing four from the fairway.

Westwood’s had a go at the par-5 twelfth in two and– plop!– his rifled long-iron settles about fifteen feet from the hole. If only he could putt…

Dufner’s left his third shot on the brow of the greenside bunker he was playing from. He chips the next within a couple of feet of the hole, but he’s beginning to look a little more animated.

Scott Verplank’s day gets a little more stressful with a thinned bunker shot on the sixth. His playing partner, Keegan Bradley, has a five-footer for another birdie. Of all the favourites to have played the sixth, he’s the only one to have laid up rather than take on the green. Sensible chap.

Westwood’s eagle putt at twelve burns the edge of the hole. It’s a birdie, but another missed putt.

Keegan Bradley’s missed his birdie putt at the sixth, but needn’t despair: he remains tied for the lead with Jason Dufner, who’s converted his par putt at the fifth.

His playing partner, Scott Verplank, on the other hand, has just bogeyed a par-four only marginally longer than the par-three fifteenth.

Quick update: Bradley -7, Dufner -7, Scott Verplank -5, Robert Karlsson -5, Anders Hansen -5, Luke Donald -4.

Robert Karlsson’s left himself with another birdie opportunity at the ninth. It’s a miss, but the Swede is beginning to look very dangerous. Criminally underrated, he could well post a score to worry the final groups.

Dufner’s played a lovely pitch at the sixth. After his three-wood off the tee left him about thirty yards short of the green, he hoisted a lob-wedge into the air and left if about four feet under the hole. He converts the putt to move to eight-under.

Luke Donald’s eagle putt at twelve misses on the right-hand side, but it’s a birdie and the Englishman is suddenly five-under-par.

American commentator Peter Kostis is having a long, in-depth, techno-babble-filled, look at Keegan Bradley’s golf swing. Geometric lines have filled the screen. Colin Montgomerie’s having a go now, but his analysis is more of the “there he is, having a good old whiff at the ball” variety.

Friend of Bill Murray, D.A. Points, is sticking around. He’s on four-under-par.

Karlsson’s just stitched his approach at the tenth. He’ll have about six feet for another birdie and legitimate shot at becoming the first Scandinavian major champion.

This is getting very interesting, indeed: Dufner -8; Bradley -7; Hansen,Karlsson, Verplank, Donald -5; Westwood, Scott -4.

GET IN! Karlsson’s putt at the tenth dies into the hole. The Swede is suddenly six-under-par. Would he be the tallest PGA Champion of all-time?

Donald burns the hole at the thirteenth. He’s got one hole left before entering Atlanta Athletic Club’s demonic closing stretch.

Keegan Bradley’s found another birdie, this time converting a twenty-footer at the eighth. His drive on the next, though, finds the back of a fairway bunker. The man with two first names looks to have realised where he is.

Dufner’s safely aboard the eighth green. Looking rather pleased with himself, he strolls off down the fairway.

Bradley’s actually found the front of the fairway bunker, but perhaps striking his second too well (I know, right) his shot finishes over the green in a greenside bunker. This is as ragged as the rookie’s looked for some time.

Incidentally, Bradley’s the nephew of LPGA legend Pat Bradley.

Dufner’s just holed another birdie putt. No grandstanding or manic fist-pumping: he could just as easily be playing in a friendly fourball.

Keegan Bradley, after catching an awkward side-hill lie, only just escapes the greenside bunker at the ninth. He’s looking at over forty feet to save par. Saving  bogey is probably more prominent in his mind.

Leaderboard: Dufner -9; Bradley -8; Karlsson -6; Donald, Verplank, Hansen -5.

Mark Roe has just referred to “ice-cold Dufner.” Oooooh yeah…

Bradley, after taking five at ninth, spanks a three-wood down the tenth fairway. His brillo-pad hair looks to have the same texture as the Bemuda rough.

Now that I think of it, Keegan Bradley doesn’t just have two first names, he also has two second names.

Luke Donald’s found the water at the fourteenth! To quote Ewan Murray, who for some reason is absent from the Sky commentary booth: “One must really feel his race is run.”

“We can birdie these, Lee,” says Colin Montgomerie as the camera lingers on out-of-it’s Lee Westwood. Meanwhile, Jason Duf(fman) has missed the tenth fairway.

Robert Karlsson’s found the twelfth green in two. A wonderful strike.

Keegan Bradley’s just used his belly putter to jab a short birdie putt wide of the hole at the tenth. There’s a reason why exponents of the long putter have yet to win  a major.

Robert Karlsson’s just converted his eagle putt at the twelfth! Suddenly, the Swede is eight-under-par and only a shot adrift of Jason Dufner’s lead.

Dufner’s birdie putt at the tenth’s a little tentative a finished about six inches below the hole. The American shuffles after it while rooting about in his pocket for a marker. You have to love this guy.

Robert Karlsson’s robotic, dipping action’s in perfect sync at the moment. He’s rifled an iron shot into the heart of the thirteenth green.

Update: Dufner -9; Karlsson -8; Bradley -7; Hansen -6; Verplank and Toms -5.

Lee Westwood’s smiling as he wanders onto the seventeenth green, but the Englishman must be frustrated. He’s played better than anyone else this week, tee-to-green.

Keegan Bradley’s thirty-yard approach putt at the eleventh hits the back of the hole, pops up in the air and settles a few inches behind the hole. It’s a massive break; that ball was only gaining pace.

Dufner’s safely aboard the eleventh green.

Donald’s birdie putt at sixteen races past the hole. Game over.

Karlsson’s striped a three-wood up the fourteenth.

Nice touch for a big lad.

His action may look more than a tad ungainly, but Keegan Bradley can seriously thrash a golf ball. His drive on the par-five twelfth is nothing short of huge.

Meanwhile, over on fourteen, Robert Karlsson’s settled for the back of the green. He may have avoided all the trouble short of the elevated green, but his putt down the slope will be lightening fast.

Bradley’s knocked his second shot on the twelfth to no more than two feet. It’ll be a kick-in eagle for the rookie.

According to Sky’s commentators, every shot Luke Donald’s hit over the last hour has been “crucial” or a “must make.”

Keegan Bradley follows his playing partner in for eagle at the twelfth. Suddenly, he’s tied for the lead.

Perhaps responding to Bradley’s heroics, Dufner pulls five-wood from the bag on twelve and sends his second shot straight over the pin. It must have looked good in the air and even the phlegmatic (co-)leader is reduced to a grimace.

Karlsson’s two-putted the fourteenth successfully.

To paraphrase the great Martin Lawrence: “Stuff just got real!”

Bradley, Dufner -9; Karlsson -8; Hansen -7; Toms, Verplank -6.

Anders Hansen has been largely ignored during tonight’s coverage, but the Dane is four-under for the day and only two back of the inexperienced American duo at the top.

Robert Karlsson’s found the left side of the fifteenth. The ProTracer camera shows how his iron followed an arrow-straight path to the green. No wonder he picked his tee up quickly.

Bradley shuffles up to his second shot at the thirteenth, and though he flirts with the right-hand greenside bunkers, leaves his ball about fifteen feet away from the cup.

Meanwhile, over on the twelfth green, Jason Dufner’s birdie putt rolls in through the front door. He’ll stand on the thirteenth tee with a one-shot lead.

Karlsson’s putt down the fifteenth green takes seems to take minutes to reach the edge of the hole, then sits there. The injustice! The Swede will remain eight-under.

Over on thirteen, Keegan Bradley’s birdie putt misses on the right side. Laughing and joking with his caddy, he’s acting like a man at ease with his own destiny.

Bradley looked like he spun out of his drive on the fourteenth, but it banks into the fairway from the right hand side and… just… keeps… rolling.  He’ll could be hitting as little as a wedge into the green. All his misses are turning to gold at the moment.

Woof! Dufner’s found another birdie, this time on the this time converting from ten feet on the thirteenth.

Perhaps unsettled by the roars that accompanied Dufner’s move to eleven-under, Karlsson flies the sixteenth green. He’s left himself a treacherous pitch back down the green. Schoolboy error.

Struck by the leader’s apparent serenity, LPGA player Christina Kim’s just tweeted: “I’m convinced Jason Dufner had botox. He’s trying to smile but can’t.”

Karlsson’s pitch from the back of the sixteenth is well executed, but can’t defy the laws of physics. It comes to rest on the front fringe, leaving him over thirty feet back up the green.

Avast! There be storms on the horizon!

A bogey for Robert Karlsson means the Swede heads to the seventeenth tee four back of Dufner… who’s hit another glorious iron shot to the fourteenth. He’ll have ten feet left for birdie.

Bradley tried to play a cut into the short fifteenth, but unsettled by the lake running the length of the green (and the fact that, you know, he could be on the verge of winning his first major), gets a little over-active through the hitting area and misses left.

Karlsson starts his tee shot at the centre of the seventeenth green and tries (unsuccessfully) to draw it towards the left pin. It’s another green hit, however.

Bradley, confonted with a tough lie at the side fifteenth, takes a uncoordinated stab at his pitch and catches it thin. What should have been a high, soft lob becomes a shin-high runner and, cruelly, find the water on the other side of the green.

Obliged to return to the drop zone, his fourth shot is a good one. He’s left himself a four-footer for double bogey.

A demoralised Karlsson strides from the seventeenth, head down. He’s just three-putted for his second successive bogey to fall back to six-under. If only he’s known about Bradley’s implosion on the fifteenth! Two putts would have left him second, with only the untested Dufner ahead of him.

Bradley taps in for a six on the fifteenth.

Having been forced to watch the trials of Keegan Bradley unfold in front of him, Dufner finds the water on the right of the par-three fifteenth!

Anders Hansen’s also fallen back to six-under.

Dufner’s third shot at the fifteenth, a wedge from the drop zone, settles about ten feet above the hole. He’ll have that putt to avoid a double bogey.

His catastrophic lapse in concentration seemingly forgotten, the American returns to his ambly, phlegmatic self as he saunters onto the green.

The closing four holes are wreaking havoc in exactly the way many felt they would.

Dufner holes the putt for bogey! Absolutely incredible. He found the water at the fifteenth, but leaves the green with his four-shot lead intact.

Dufner -10; Karlsson, Hansen, Bradley, Verplank -6.

Jason Dufner has never won a PGA Tour event.

After finding one of the right-hand traps, Karlsson’s been forced to lay up at the eighteenth. He’ll need to get down in two from around 150 yards to stay at -6.

Fellow Scandinavian, Anders Hansen, however, isn’t finished yet. He’s knocked tee shot on the seventeenth to around ten feet.

Bradley, playing the sixteenth, has left his approach shot to six feet.

Suddenly the challengers are showing a little ambition.

Three bogeys to finish is not the stuff of which major championship dreams are made. See you at the Masters, Robert Karlsson.

BOOM! Bradley follows his triple bogey with a birdie at the sixteenth. He’s back to seven-under.

But playing partner Scott Verplank’s holed a twenty-yard bunker shot,  to save the honour on the seventeenth tee. The two Americans find themselves tied second… with ANDERS HANSEN, who’s holed his birdie putt at the seventeenth!

There may not be an discernible change in Dufner’s rhythm, but the timing’s definitely beginning to get a little ragged. He’s missed the sixteenth green to the right. His bunker shot runs about eight feet past the hole.

After watching Scott Veplank’s tee shot ricochet back into the lake, Keegan Bradley’s tee shot at seventeen finds the putting surface.

Dufner’s put at sixteen slides past on the high side. He makes no mistake with the resulting two-footer, but it’s his second bogey in a row.

Keegan Bradley, on the other hand, has only gone and HOLED HIS BIRDIE PUTT AT SEVENTEEN! It’s his second birdie in a row. Dufner’s lead has been cut to one.

Dufner -9; Bradley -8; Hansen -7.

Two wonderful strikes have put Anders Hansen twenty-feet above the pin at the treacherous eighteenth.

It ballooned a lot higher than he expected, but Jason Dufner’s tee shot at the short seventeenth finds the front of the green (just).

He raises a skeptical eyebrow and illustrates the ballflight to his caddy. He can’t be as calm as he looks, surely?

Bradley’s looking pumped as he strides off the eighteenth tee. His three-wood’s found the edge of the right fairway.

If he hits the green, a chest-bump with his caddy mightn’t be far away.

“Like it?”

“I love it,” says Bradley. His caddy’s doing his best to slow the rookie down, but he’s running on pure adrenalin. He settles over the ball and… safely finds the back of the green.

Dufner’s easy rhythm may have served him well for fourteen holes, but he’s just fallen to his third bogey in a row. He’s beginning to look more deflated than calm.

Bradley, Dufner -8; Hansen -7; Karlsson,  Toms, Verplank -5.

Bradley’s diligently pacing his putt at the eighteenth. A two-putt may well win him his first major championship.

Dufner’s found the right side of the eighteenth fairway.

Bradley’s lagged his birdie effort to about a foot, allowing the rookie to tap in for an eight-under-par total.

It’s now become a two-horse race. If Dufner makes par at the eighteenth, we’ll be looking at a play-off.

Scott Verplank taps in for his first major championship top-five.

Dufner’s left himself nearly two hundred yards to the pin, most of it over water. The crowd is errily quiet as the ball is sent skyward, but there’s a palpable sense of relief as his ball finds the back of the green. In fact, he can’t be more than a few feet from where Bradley’s ball finished.

Don’t let him three-putt.

Keegan Bradley’s over at the range, high-fiving relatives and friends. Should a play-off prove necessary, he’ll be carrying all the momentum.

The final group’s being introduced to the gallery beside the eigheenth green. Dufner, his jaw muscles twitching, looks oblivious to the polite applause.

His first putt crests the hog’s back running the length of the eighteenth and, catching the grain, runs down to within a foot of the hole. For the second year in a row, the PGA’s going to go to a play-off.

Dufner’s safely in for four.

His run to the clubhouse may not have been pretty, but he parred the toughest hole on the course– one of the most intimidating holes in major championship golf– when he knew he absolutely had to.

But, as Butch Harmon is keen to remind us, he had a five-shot lead on the fifteenth tee.

Incredibly, Colin Montgomerie has yet to relate the dramatic finish to his experiences at the 2010 Ryder Cup… but he has just hinted that the1994 PGA would have been his if only he’d been afforded the luxury of a three-hole play-off against Steve Elkington.

Ah, Monty. His David Brent persona remains intact.

The players have arrived on the sixteenth tee. The holder of the lowest strokeplay total over the final three holes will take the Wannamaker.

Dufner will be first to play. He finds the centre of the fairway.

Bradley takes his customary three shuffles over the ball and dispatches a safe tee shot to the left side of the fairway… then nips into the nearest portaloo.

With the shadows beginning to lengthen and the great majority of the crowd having opted to linger around the eighteenth, the play-off is curiously lacking in atmosphere.

Dufner has left himself 185 yards up the hill. Totally pure, his four-iron very nearly finds the bottom of the hole!

Landing about ten feet short, it bounced once, then ran past the pin to eight feet.

Bradley, requiring far less club, follows him in and manages to finish even closer. He can’t have more than three feet left for birdie.

Dufner’s putt slides past on the left after never really looking on line.

Bradley, on the other hand, after delivering that body blow of a second shot, converts his birdie chance to take a one-shot lead to the seventeenth tee.

That was beyond gutsy.

“Right club?”

“Yes, absolutely.”

Bradley looks for a little reassurance on the seventeenth tee, before leaving his mid-iron about twenty feet short of the pin. It’s a brave shot under the circumstances.

Dufner bails out on the right. He’ll be left with a thirty-footer across the green for birdie.

Bradley’s appears to be carrying the majority of the crowd’s support.

Sky’s Bruce Critcheley has just described the mint julip as “glorified Pimm’s.”

After pacing the length and breadth of the green, Dufner sends a twitchy effort running past the hole. It fnishes about twelve feet away, mere feet from a humiliating visit to the water.

Bradley’s birdie putt slips past on the high side and, as it looks to be rolling to a halt, gains a little more pace. Not a tap-in.

Dufner’s par effort looks in all the way, but lacks pace and falls past on the left side.

As Bradley’s own effort catches the left side of the hole and drops, a fan can be heard shouting “FINISH HIM!”

If this were a Mortal Kombat deathmatch, Dufner would be staggering helplessly in anticipation of a to harpoon the chest (or a similarly violent end) right now.

He’s finds himself two shots behind on the eighteenth tee.

Bradley’s three-wood skirts the water and finishes in the centre of the fairway. Dufner must find the short grass to have any hope.

And does.

His ball careens down the fairway, well passed the effort of his opponent.

Bradley will have an opportunity to hit the eighteenth green first.

With 197 yards left to go, the rookie reaches for a six-iron. He’ll need a solid strike and a dose of adrenaline to get it there.

It looks left as it leaves clubface, but catches the extreme left side of the green and kicks towards the pin.

Dufner, needing a hole-out to keep things interesting, finds the same part of the green.

Bradley lifts his visor to salute the crowd and, looking a little disoriented, takes several deep breaths. Not only is he about to a major championship at his first attempt, he’s about to become the first player in history to win a major using a long putter!

I can’t say I’m thrilled about it, but it was bound to happen at some point…

Dufner’s holed his birdie putt!

At least Bradley will be forced to two-putt.

From Wayne Rooney (via Twitter): “Bradley what a 3 holes in play off. Winner”

Steady on, Wayne.

Bradley’s left himself a foot away from major championship glory. The putt is a formality.

As if we needed proof that the 25-year-old had just hit the big-time, his Wikipedia page has just been defaced:

“I think he has a kid and a wife but his kid’s crying”

The child in question is Bradley’s nephew, who along with the champion himself, *sniff* just has something in his eye.

Bradley triple-bogeyed the fifteenth hole in regulation, followed it with two birdies and played immaculately in the play-off. Fantastic stuff.

Dufner, though his voice betrays his disappointment, is gracious in post-round interview with Peter Kostis. He’s says he’s determined to learn from this, but it’s unlikely he’ll ever have quite the same opportunity to snatch a major. He had a five-shot lead mid-way through the back nine. Tragic.

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