Keegan Bradley of the United States poses with the trophy at the award ceremony after winning the tournament following the final round of the ZOZO Championship. Pic: Getty Images
Inzai City, Tokyo, Oct 16: Sahith Theegala got his 2022-23 season off to a great start with his second Top-six finish in three starts as he finished with a round of 3-under 67 and totalled 12-under 268 and a tied-fifth place in the Zozo Championship at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.
The Indian-American, who was one of the rookies to reach the Tour Championships, was Tied-sixth at the Fortinet Championship but missed the cut at Sanderson Farms. He bounced back in Japan despite a first round of 1-over 71. He shot 67-63-67 in his final three rounds.
Keegan Bradley survived two late bogeys as he fended off a strong challenge from overnight leader Rickie Fowler and Andrew Putnam to end a four-year title drought on the PGA Tour that spanned over 1,498 days.
Fowler finished runner-up for the 15th time in 299 starts in his PGA Tour career. He was unable to get going on the final day as he had two birdies and two bogeys in his even par 70.
Talking of how his season has got off, Theegala said, “It’s just really cool to see how far my game has come. I played really well this week after the first round, but just felt like I had a lot of stuff not really going my way this week, but still just scored really well. It’s cool to see that even when I don’t have everything clicking, I can still put together a really good week, because this is obviously a really good week. Yeah, really proud of the last three rounds. It’s really good momentum going forward, too. It just keeps me kind of knowing that I’m going about the process the right way.”
“It’s top 78 players, and knowing that you kind of don’t have a cut to worry about, even if you say you don’t worry about the cut, knowing you have four days to play is a game changer.
You kind of earned your way into the events, come and enjoy the event for what it is and see it as another great opportunity. So I’m very excited.”
On his next few events, he added, “Yeah, playing CJ and Houston for sure. I’m not sure about RSM. Definitely taking a couple weeks off.
I think I’m going to be playing the QBE, which is really cool, so I’m really excited for that. No, no goals, just kind of the same thing, just keep getting better and enjoying it all. Get to go to cool places like this in Japan. This is an awesome week and I can’t wait to be back, honestly.”
The 2011 US PGA Championship winner, Bradley, overturned a one-shot deficit in the final round with a 68 to edge Fowler and Putnam to the winner’s purse of US$1.92million by a solitary shot with his winning total of 15-under-par 265.
It’s Bradley’s fifth title of his PGA Tour career having last tasted success in the 2018 BMW Championship.
Japan’s 20-year-old Ryo Hisatune (70), playing on a on a sponsor’s invite, suffered a late bogey and missed a chance for his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour. He was Tied-12th six shots behind winner Bradley. Hisatune shared the honour of being the top Japanese with Keita Nakajima after they signed off matching four-day total of nine-under-par 271.
Nakajima, also competing on a sponsor’s invite, shot 69 as he was also T-12. Mikumu Horikawa (65) and Satoshi Kodaira (67) made it a fine week for the home contingent by tying for joint-16th. It was the first time that four Japanese players had finished in Top-16 of the tournament.
Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama finished tied-40th.
Fowler finished runner-up for the 15th time in 299 PGA Tour start.