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Dufner was watching all that from the elevated tee box. He sensed his title might be slipping away.
When it was done, he seemed more numb than disappointed. It might take a while for this one to sink in.
"I'm so new at this situation, I don't know if I appreciate it as much as I will," Dufner said. "Maybe when I look back in 15 or 20 years, I'll be disappointed if I don't get another chance. But I have a feeling I'll have more chances in a major to close one out."
That's probably what Hoch and Van de Velde thought.
Their second chance never came.
For Bradley, the future looks brighter than ever. He's always been a guy who stayed out of the limelight, even with his famous name and impressive rookie season. He already had a win, capturing the Byron Nelson in a playoff back in May.
Even so, everyone touted guys such as Dustin Johnson and Anthony Kim as the future of American golf in a world no longer dominated by Woods.
Well, make room for another. Bradley was the one- not Johnson or Kim -- who ended the longest American drought of the modern Grand Slam era, a winless stretch covering six straight majors since Phil Mickelson won the 2010 Masters.
"Ever since I was 10 years old, I've kind of flown under the radar," Bradley said. "I had what I thought was a pretty good college career (at St. John's), but I never really got noticed. Same in junior golf and kind of the same out here. I've been having a good year, and that's just the way it happens with me, which is fine. I'm happy with it."
He knows life is about to change, and he's happy with that, too.
"It's cool to be thought of as one of those guys now," Bradley said. "I've always wanted, growing up, to win tournaments and win majors."
He doesn't intend to be a one-major wonder, either. There's been plenty of those, especially at the PGA, everyone from Shaun Micheel to Rich Beem.
"I don't want to be one of the guys that kind of disappears," Bradley said. "I don't plan to."
As he posed on the 18th green with his glittering prize, the improbable winner on a sweltering day in the Deep South, that snowy mountaintop in Vermont must've seemed so far, far away.
"That was the moment that I realized I wanted to golf instead of ski," he said. "I was sitting on top of that hill, freezing, having no fun, and I said, 'You know what, I want to be a golfer.'"
Not just any golfer, either.
A major champion.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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