For a while it didn't appear that anyone would battle Furyk down the stretch. Not after the third-round leader raced out of the gate with birdies on the first three holes. Bradley got hot, though, with his iron play and his putter. He holed a 40-foot bomb at the seventh. A crucial 14-footer to save par at the ninth. A 23-footer at the 10th. A seven-footer at the 11th. A curling nine-footer at the 14th. An 11-footer at the 16th. Ten holes, five birdies.
It all came down to the 18th hole, with Bradley trailing Furyk by a shot. Bradley split the fairway, and then Furyk repeated a swing from his ill-fated U.S. Open finish at Olympic Club. He pulled it left into the trees. Uh-oh. Furyk got a break, though. It caromed out and dribbled into the fairway. He had a shot. Then Furyk pushed his approach shot into the right bunker, where it bounced out and just into the thick, scraggly rough. Advantage Bradley. Except he was on such an adrenaline rush that he pounded a 9-iron from 165 yards and it didn't draw. It plugged in that same bunker. Advantage Furyk.
It was a delicate pitch, but Furyk fluffed it slightly. It barely cleared the bunker and stuck in the greenside rough. Advantage, anyone? No, this thing just turned into a pillow fight.
Bradley couldn't aim at the flag with his splash-out and he smartly played it to the left, where it caught a ridge and drifted around to the right, stopping 15 feet above the hole. "A spectacular shot," Bradley said later. Furyk gouged his second chip just onto the green, where it trickled slightly but still stopped five feet short.
You know the rest. Bradley poured in his par putt. Furyk had a minor explosion, pounding his putt six feet past on the right with a stroke that never had a chance.
There were a few things we learned Sunday. It's never over until that last putt drops. Even Jim Furyk, a former U.S. Open winner who is considered a strong closer, can make double from the fairway on the 18th hole with the title on the line. Furyk is 42 and has failed to finish well in a couple of big tournaments. Does that make him more or less attractive as a potential wild-card selection for the Ryder Cup? That's for Love to ponder.
We learned that Tiger Woods is still out there somewhere, lurking on the edge of being consistently competitive again. Tiger closed with a no-bogey 66 that could've easily been 61 or 62 if he'd made some makeable putts. That's easy to say, but recent history says that this is how Tiger putts now, at least until further notice. Woods said he was excited because over the weekend he stroked his putts on the lines he wanted, which was something he hadn't done earlier in the week. He had to find something positive out of the week, and that's what he came up with.
We also learned that Bradley has game and attitude and passion. And common sense. Asked if winning this WGC title made trying to defend his PGA Championship title this week at the Ocean Course a little more difficult, Bradley agreed that it probably does, and that his record the week after he wins isn't great. But he's also learned something about handling success and the expectations that come with it.
The PGA is going to be even harder now? That's just what Bradley wants to hear. "I look forward to the challenge," he said. He was smiling. And really, why not?
(Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said Bradley moved up to eighth in Ryder Cup point with his win at Firestone. Bradley actually moved up to fourth.)