South Korea’s Bae Sang-moon won his first PGA Tour title on Sunday, firing a one-under 69 to win the US$6.7 million Byron Nelson Championship by two strokes over Keegan Bradley of the US.
In windy conditions at the TPC Four Seasons Resort course, the 26-year-old South Korean finished on 13-under 267 to hold off 2011 PGA Championship winner Bradley, who shot 72, with 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel third on 270.
“This course was really tough,” Bae said. “The winds were very strong, but I did very well.”
Bae, who had won 11 times worldwide previously but never in a PGA Tour event, made his first appearance at the Byron Nelson a memorable one, becoming the PGA Tour’s first Asian-born winner since Kevin Na of the US in 2011 in Las Vegas.
“I’m very very happy. I had a great time,” Bae said. “I was a little nervous, but I did my best today.”
Bae, who won the Japan Tour money title in 2011, tapped in a four-footer for par at the 18th to seal the victory, raised his arms and looked skyward with a big smile.
Bradley, who won his first PGA Tour title at the 2011 Byron Nelson, was foiled in his bid to be the event’s first wire-to-wire winner since Tom Watson in 1980. He led Bae by a stroke when the final round began.
“I’m disappointed, but I’ll get over it,” Bradley said. “Moon played really well. He’s a great guy and very good player.”
Bradley matched Bae for the lead at the par-four 15th hole by sinking a 17-foot birdie putt, while the South Korean saw his five-foot par putt lip out.
Bae’s bogey opened the door for South Africa’s Schwartzel, who sank a six-foot par putt seconds later at 17 to stay one behind the leaders, but a bogey at the last doomed Schwartzel’s title bid.
At the par-five 16th, Bae sank a six-foot birdie putt and Bradley lipped out on a four-foot birdie bid, putting Bae back on top with two holes remaining.
Bradley went over the green at the par-three 17th and took another bogey to fall two strokes off the pace, while Bae made clutch pars on the final two holes to secure the triumph.
Justin Bolli of the US was fourth on 271, one stroke ahead of Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Americans Morgan Hoffmann and Scott Piercy. Americans John Huh and Charley Hoffman finished on 273.
Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa closed with a 67 to share 10th on 274 with Canada’s Graham DeLaet. Ishikawa’s previous best finish this season was 38th last month at the Masters.