DANIELS, W.Va. - In the aftermath of Friday’s final round at the 85th West Virginia Open, David Bradshaw called his play “sloppy” and “not good.”
But in typical Bradshaw fashion, he was plenty good enough.
The Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, native went into the day with a six-stroke lead, and that never dipped below five, despite a few more mishaps than in either of the first two days. By the time the smoke cleared and a final birdie putt on the 18th hole fell, Bradshaw finished at minus-15, good enough for a six-shot win over Charleston’s Will Evans and his 10th West Virginia Open golf championship.
“I played sloppy golf today,” Bradshaw said. “But I had some cushion there and I made some tentative golf swings just trying to keep the ball in front of me, but it feels good. Feels good to be over with.
“In my mind, I tried to pretend that I was trying to catch someone. I tried to trick myself as much as I could. It didn’t work, but that’s how I tried to approach the day.”
The week marked the largest margin of victory among the professional mini-tour golfer’s 10 Open titles in 15 years, and it also kept him well ahead of the pace set by Sam Snead, who didn’t win his 10th Open title until the age of 49 in 1960.
Snead finished with 17, a number Bradshaw still refuses to look at even as he inched another step closer Friday.
“To think that I won my first one in 2004 and it’s 2018, it just seems like so long ago,” Bradshaw said. “Winning isn’t that easy, and the fact that I’ve won 10 has been an incredible ride. And not all of those I’ve won - sometimes people have lost them to me. Winning seven just seems like so many. It seems like winning 10 has been so many and, honestly, I’d like to get to the next level.
“Obviously (2014 and 2015 Open champion) Christian (Brand) isn’t here. He’s probably my biggest competitor, and he’s out there playing the (Web.com Tour). I would like to move beyond this and come back to this later in my career. But, (qualifying) school has been tough for me, so that’s what it is.”
Despite how unhappy Bradshaw might have been with his round, he seemed to come up with an answer every time either of his playing partners tried to creep back into the picture.
It started rough with Bradshaw bogeying the first hole, allowing 18-year-old Mason Williams, from Bridgeport, West Virginia, and 22-year-old Thadd Obecny, of Wheeling, to close to within five and six shots respectively with pars.
The script flipped however on the par-5 second hole as Bradshaw birdied with the other two parring. The 10-time champion came up with perhaps his best shot of the day on the par-3 third hole. After pulling his tee shot left into the bunker he splashed out and into the hole for an unexpected birdie.
Early in the back nine, Williams threatened to claw back in again after Bradshaw missed a par putt from inside of 4 feet on 11 and pushed his drive wide right into the trees on the par-5 12th. Williams had a great look at eagle on 12 that would’ve cut the deficit to four, but instead settled for birdie to pick up one more shot, putting him five back with six holes to go.
But on the very next shot, on the par-3 13th, Williams missed the green left, resulting in a bogey. Obecny double-bogeyed after hitting into the water and, with a par, Bradshaw all but had the tournament won.
It was the first time either Williams or Obecny played in the final group of the Open and it was a struggle for both at times. Williams finished with a 1-under 71 and Obecny at 2-over 74. Williams was the low junior and the low amateur, finishing at 8-under and in third place behind Evans, who registered the low round of the day for the second straight day, matching his 66 from Thursday.
“I was hitting them really good, they just didn’t seem to fall,” Williams said. “I didn’t hit very good wedges. I got off to a slow start. The first couple of holes I left myself in the middle of the trees on one and two and kind of grinded it out after that.”
“I hit it well again on the front today and didn’t make anything again,” Obecny said. “Gave away 12 and just hit a terrible shot on 13 that kind of did me in. It just kind of took all the momentum away.”
Obecny ended in a tie for fifth along with Drew Green, from Beaver, West Virginia, and Davey Jude, of Kermit, West Virginia, who recovered nicely from a 76 on Thursday to card a 5-under 67 on Friday. All finished minus-4 for the tournament.
Scott Depot’s Chris Williams came home with solo possession of fourth place, ending with an eagle at the par-5 18th to finish at 7-under, one back of Mason Williams.
Charles Town’s Christian Boyd finished at 3-under, in eighth with four-time West Virginia Amateur champion Sam O’Dell (2-under), of Hurricane, and two-time Open champ Jonathan Clark (1-under), of Hurricane, finishing ninth and 10th respectively.