AKRON, Ohio — The week at Firestone Country Club essentially started with Adam Scott trying to explain how and why he squandered what seemed an insurmountable lead two weeks ago at the British Open.
Sunday night, the Bridgestone Invitational ended with another giveaway. It happened again, and it happened to Jim Furyk again.
Furyk’s putt on the 18th green that would have forced a playoff was hit so poorly that Furyk had dropped his putter by the time it sped past the hole.
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Keegan Bradley gasped and covered his mouth.
Bradley had just won the tournament after entering the final round four shots behind the leader since the opening round. Furyk, he of the blazing putter and astounding accuracy for most of the tournament, double-bogeyed the 72nd hole. He hit through a tree, through a bunker, chunked a chip shot from 22 feet and then missed what was essentially a five-foot putt by five feet.
Thousands of fans lining the 18th green gasped, too.
Furyk lost for the third time this year after entering the final round with at least a share of the lead. An hour into Sunday’s final round, he was up six shots on Bradley. Even after Bradley birdied four times on the back nine, Furyk went to No. 18 with a one-shot lead.
“My hope standing on the 18th tee was to make birdie and maybe force a playoff,” Bradley said.
Bradley sent his second shot on the 18th into a bunker right of the green, and the ball plugged deeply into the sand. He chipped out, then confidently made a 16-foot par putt to at least guarantee a playoff.
His was the only confidence on the green at the time.
“I’ve lost some tournaments in pretty poor fashions,” Furyk said. “But I don’t think I’ve ever let one slip as badly as this one. This was my worst effort to finish off an event.”
Furyk’s five-footer that would have given him a bogey and his second chance at a playoff here at Firestone hurried by the right side of the cup.
“I was trying to hit it on the firm side,” Furyk said. “I pushed it really bad. I never gave it a chance.”
It’s been the year of the comeback. In 2012, final-day deficits of eight, seven (twice) and six (three times) have been overcome in PGA Tour events. Two weeks after Scott’s hard-to-explain collapse at the British Open, Furyk inexplicably didn’t finish again.
“I’ve known it’s a cruel game for a long time,” Furyk said.
Furyk was tied for first at the U.S. Open in June but shot a final round 74 and finished in a tie for fourth. He was tied for the lead in the U.S. Open on the 16th hole before bogeying.
Last spring he went to Sunday tied for the lead at the Transitions Championship but lost in a playoff. He entered the final round here with a one-shot lead on Louis Oosthuizen and a four-shot lead on Bradley and Furyk started his round with three birdies.
“A little bit of a dream start,” Furyk said.
The polar opposite of what would happen later.
He drove the ball straight throughout the tournament and attacked the green with sharp approach shots, but his putter abandoned him late. Furyk had 51 total putts on Thursday and Friday. He had 62 total putts over the final two rounds.
His next-to-last putt is one he’ll remember — for the wrong reasons — for a long time.
“It was a really terrible putt,” Furyk said.
And for a player who played 71 holes of championship-caliber golf, a really terrible finish.