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Keegan Bradley falls short after sharing Valspar Championship lead

A double bogey on No. 13 of Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course dooms his chance for a win.
Keegan Bradley, at right, stares down the first hole while playing the Copperhead Course on Sunday, May 2, 2021, during the final round of the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor.
Keegan Bradley, at right, stares down the first hole while playing the Copperhead Course on Sunday, May 2, 2021, during the final round of the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published May 3
Updated May 3

PALM HARBOR — One thing was alleviating some of the pain Keegan Bradley felt walking off the 18th green at the Valspar Championship on Sunday knowing that victory ended up three shots out of reach.

Moments after shaking hands with champion Sam Burns at Innisbrook, Bradley walked toward his family, who waited just outside the rope line. He kissed his wife, Jilliana, and hugged his children, Cooper, 3 months, and Logan, 3, and mother, Kaye.

“It’s been so fun having them here,” Bradley said. “I’m proud of the way I finished off to come in solo second.”

Bradley began the day tied for the lead on the Copperhead Course with Burns. He shot par 71 to Burns’ 68 to finish three back at 14-under 270. The finish was his best since tying for second at the Travelers Championship in June 2019.

Bradley, who also had the solo lead after the first round and was tied for the lead with Burns after the second, lost his chance at victory with a double bogey on the par-3 13th.

Bradley thought his tee shot would clear the bunker in front of the green. Instead, the wind shifted and the ball fell short, bouncing off the sidewall and into the water.

Bradley was assessed a penalty stroke and took a drop in the tee box. That led to the double bogey, which put him two shots back. Coupled with a Burns birdie at the par-5 14th, Bradley was three back with four holes to play. .

“I just hit a terrible shot,” Bradley said of 13. “I hadn’t really hit a really bad shot all week, and you just can’t hit it there, obviously, but you can’t hit it right of the flag. And it just came out of it a little bit. It got gobbled up by the wind. If it goes another yard, it might have been in that bunker, but it was a bummer. … I was surprised it went in the water, certainly.”

Bradley’s previous best finish this year was a tie for fourth at the Zurich Classic last weekend.

Keegan Bradley celebrates a birdie at the 9th hole while playing the Copperhead Course on Sunday, May 2, 2021, during the final round of the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor.
Keegan Bradley celebrates a birdie at the 9th hole while playing the Copperhead Course on Sunday, May 2, 2021, during the final round of the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Since the Honda Classic in late March, Bradley has improved his finish in each of his tournaments. This week he’s at the Wells Fargo Championship and then the PGA Championship, which begins May 20.

“My game’s in great shape,” Bradley, 34, said. “This is the best I’ve played in a very long time. … Even when I had won (the BMW Championship in 2018, his most recent win), this is the best I’ve felt, so I’m excited.”

No threepeat for Paul Casey

Paul Casey, trying to win a third straight Valspar championship, finished tied for 21st at 5-under 279 after a final-round 68.

Professional golfer Paul Casey makes a putt on the green at the eleventh hole during PGA's Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor  on Friday, April 30, 2021.
Professional golfer Paul Casey makes a putt on the green at the eleventh hole during PGA's Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor on Friday, April 30, 2021. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.