Keegan Bradley

Two professional golfers have won the United States Sports Academy’s August Athletes of the Month. Keegan Bradley won the male category by becoming only the third player to triumph in his first start in a major when he captured the PGA Championship, while Suzann Pettersen of Norway won the female category after her comeback from nine shots down to win the Safeway Classic.

The 25-year-old Bradley sunk a par putt on the third playoff hole to win the PGA Championship over Jason Dufner. Bradley made a five-stroke comeback to tie Dufner and force the playoff. Overall Bradley shot an 8-under-par 272 on the Highlands Course in Johns Creek, Ga. He joined Francis Ouimet and Ben Curtis as the only golfers to win in their first start in a major championship. Bradley, who is leading the PGA Tour’s rookie of the year race, is the first American to win a major since Phil Mickelson won the 2010 Masters.

Meanwhile, Pettersen became the No. 2 ranked women’s golfer behind Taiwan’s Yani Tseng by winning the Safeway Classic. She came from nine strokes down in the final round to defeat Na Yeon Choi in a one-hole sudden-death playoff. Pettersen shot the lowest round of the week, a 7-under 64, in the final round to finish at 6-under-par 207 overall at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Ghost Creek Golf Course in North Plains, Ore. The victory was Pettersen’s second LPGA Tour title of the year and the eighth of her career.

Suzann Pettersen

The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nomination and ballot voting processes. Visit the Academy website to submit your nominations each month, and then return to the website between the first and second Tuesdays of each month to vote on the Athlete of the Month. The votes along with the Academy’s selection committee choose the winners and they are announced on the Academy’s website and in the online edition of The Sport Update.

Finishing second in the male athlete category was Brad Keselowski. He is considered the hottest driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup right now with victories in two races in August—the Pocono on Aug. 7 and the Bristol on Aug. 27. Before winning, he had had failed to get inside the top 20 during any of the first 20 races of the season.

The runner up to Pettersen in the Female August Athlete of the Month voting was Carmelita Jeter. The American sprinter won gold in the 100 meters and silver in the 200 meters at the World Track and Field Championships in, in South Korea. The 31-year-old’s 10.90-second time helped her become the oldest 100-meter women’s world champion. In the 200, Jeter finished second by 0.15 seconds to fall just short of winning the first women’s sprint double in two decades.

Third place winners were Trey Hardee, an American decathlete who captured his second straight title at the World Track and Field Championships, and Serena Williams, who claimed two straight women’s tennis tournament victories in August just eight weeks after spending a year battling blood clots in her lungs and other serious injuries. Hardee is a favorite to win gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics in in the decathlon, a 10-discipline, two-day track and field event. The 29-year-old Williams captured the Rogers Cup title in Toronto and also won the Stanford Classic in August.

The winners will be considered as a candidate for the 2011 Athlete of the Year ballot. In December 2011, the Academy will name the Male and Female Athlete of the Year for the 27th consecutive year. The recipients of these prestigious awards are selected annually through worldwide balloting hosted by the Academy in conjunction with USA Today and NBC Sports.

In 2010, the Male Athlete of the Year was Spain’s star football (soccer) player David Villa and the Female Athlete of the Year was South Korea’s No. 1 figure skater Yuna Kim. Both of these individuals dominated 2010’s ballot, receiving more than 12 votes per second from across the world.