Featured Golf News
Bradley Doesn't Blink
After a triple-bogey on the controversial, water-laden 260-yard par-3 15th at Atlanta Athletic Club's Highlands Course, Keegan Bradley decided to not give up in the PGA Championship. "I just kept telling myself, 'Don't let that hole define this whole tournament," he said later.
And, boy, did the PGA Tour rookie activate that determination, making birdie on the next two holes - while Jason Dufner bogeyed 15, 16 and 17 - to eradicate Dufner's five-shot lead with three holes to go and send the major into an aggregate three-hole playoff, which Bradley won with a birdie and two pars.
The 25-year-old from Vermont also went into the history books, joining Ben Curtis (2003 British Open) and Francis Ouimet (1913 U.S. Open) as the only players to win major tournaments on their first attempt, and becoming the first major winner ever to use a long putter (Bradley uses a belly putter).
He also ended a long victory drought - of six straight - by Americans in major tournaments, becoming the first Yank to win one since Phil Mickelson ("one of my idols," said Bradley) in the 2010 Masters.
On Sunday evening, after accepting the Wanamaker Trophy and the $1.445 million check that go to the PGA champion, Bradley met with reporters and discussed his breakthrough victory.
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the 93rd PGA Championship, Keegan Bradley.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: (Using cell phone to photograph media audience) (laughter).
MODERATOR: Keegan wins in his first appearance in a major golf championship, and he also becomes the fifth PGA Champion whose father is a member of the PGA of America. Keegan, you are no longer just Pat Bradley's nephew anymore. How does it feel to be the PGA champion?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Oh, it feels unbelievable. Like I said in there, it seems like a dream and I'm afraid I'm going to wake up here in the next five minutes and it's not going to be real. It's an honor to be champion of the PGA. My father is a PGA member and it's just great.
MODERATOR: Talk for a second about going from triple-bogey on 15 to raising the Wanamaker Trophy and what that whole trail was like, please.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Last week in the World Golf Championships, I had kind of a horrifying back side. I had a chance to win. I was in contention at the time and I finished, and it was scary. I completely lost it. I did a lot of work with Dr. Bob Rotella and Jim McLean and also Phil Mickelson and Camilo Villegas have been a huge help to me since then. The guys out here, it's something you don't expect when you come out here is how great the guys are and how helpful everybody is. I was able to put that behind me and it definitely crossed my mind, here we go again. I was able to come back and I felt great.
Q. Could you just describe your emotions over those final four holes, and then when you were, you know, when you won the championship, what was the emotions like throughout that?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Well, you know, I was actually -- my second shot into 12, the par 5, I actually hit it really close but that was the most nervous I had been. I was trying not to look at leaderboards, and for some reason on that shot I was most nervous. And there was a little, you know, a little out of my element. I felt a little bit funny, but I mean, I responded well the next couple of holes. Actually my shot on 15 was actually a really good shot. It hit the green and bounced forward and I had the worst lie in the rough. I don't know how I would -- you know, I'm thinking how I would play that shot differently, and I don't know how I would. It was just a terrible lie. And I remember walking off that green going, you know, the last four holes are so tough here that somebody be could have a five-shot lead. It doesn't matter.
I just tried to steady myself on the tee and I hit the best drive of the week on 16. I absolutely hammered it. I only had 153 yards to the pin and that's the least I've had by 20 yards. Then on 17, it would be a putt that I'll never forget the rest of my life. I scared it twice from long range earlier in the day, and I hit that putt and I kind of moved over and got in good position and that thing went in dead center. It was unbelievable.
Q. What do you think is more improbable, that you were 5-down with three to go and won, or that you won this thing in your first at-bat?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Probably my first time. Because the course is so tough that you can't -- no lead is safe. And I kept trying to tell myself that because I knew that that was the case, especially if you got a big lead, you might get a little tight coming down the end. It was pretty remarkable the way I played. And I'm very proud of the way I played. It's the best golf I've ever played, and man, it was so exciting.
Q. By the way you played the playoff, it almost seemed you were more confident in the playoff be than in regulation. How did you put yourself in that state of mind with so much at stake?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: You know, I kept thinking about the playoff that I won at the Byron Nelson, and the same thing happened to me in that I -- as soon as I realized I was going into a playoff, I completely calmed down. And I got to the tee on 16, it was the most calm I've been probably all week. And I don't know the reason why or what it was, but I was completely calm, and I absolutely striped it down that hole, which was fun. That hole, those -- the playoff in regulation, that hole will never -- I'll never forget it the rest of my life. It was so exciting.
Q. This year, the PGA Tour has kind of been promoting some young stars and trying to get somebody else other than Tiger Woods in the whole marketing scheme. I didn't see you in that marketing scheme. Where do you fit into the whole PGA Tour/young stars thing?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Ever since I was 10 years old, I've kind of flown under the radar, I guess you could say. I didn't -- you know, I had what I thought was a pretty good college career. 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 was happy with it. It's cool to be thought of as one of those guys now. I've always wanted to be growing up -- to win tournaments and win majors, which I can't believe this thing is sitting next to me (looking at Wanamaker Trophy). It's an honor to be even thought of in that category.
Q. What does this say to you about sort of the state of the Tour? You're the 13th different guy in the last 13 majors to win, a bunch of first-time winners in a row and as you said earlier, your first major period and what does that say about the depth and how many good players are out there now?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I think -- I mean, it's tough for me to comment on that because it's my first year. I know that the Tour is so deep. Because I just know from the guys, the rookies that I graduated with on the Nationwide Tour, like Chris Kirk and Jamie Lovemark who is not even playing, all of these guys who are so good. They are so good, and any one of them could win every week. You know, the top players are not dominating like they were, which I think is great for the Tour. I think it gives an opportunity for a player like me to win this thing, and I just think it's as deep as it's ever been and I think it's only getting deeper. My class of the Nationwide and the rookies and the younger players are very, very good.
Q. You mentioned that you worked with Dr. Rotella and you worked with Phil and Camilo, and that you made some adjustments from last week to this week. Can you give us a little detail on what it was that you worked on, what changes you made, and how they were able to work for you to win that trophy this week?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: They are all a lot of clichés. But it was not getting into the result of winning this trophy or making a birdie or what it would mean to me. Or, you know, one of the things that's been on my mind a lot is I really -- it was important to me to win Rookie of the Year, and that's something that was hurting me out there, thinking about it. You know, Phil and Camilo gave me some advice that only players can. Phil has been great to me. He's just told me to, you know, stay more patient out there. And the major thing I tried to do this week was under-react to everything whether it was a good thing or a terrible thing; I under-reacted to the triple and I overreacted a little when I made that putt on 17. (Laughter) but that was something that just came out of me. I didn't even know it was coming. But that was the key was to under-react. And if you watch Phil play, he gets excited but he never gets too down on himself, and that was the key.
Q. You have talked a lot about Phil and what he's done for you, the last couple of weeks you've mentioned that. I wonder if we can go back to your family up braining and following your dad around and your aunt's influence and how much that may have influenced your preparation for what happened today.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I grew up going to Pat's tournaments and totally idolizing her and wanting to be like her out there. I remember watching her -- I remember as a kid going to her tournaments and literally staring her in the face and I'm her nephew, and she was so into it, she would not even recognize me. And I thought that was cool. I always wanted to be like her, and my dad and my mom, whose here, and my sister, and my little nephew, AK. They gave me the opportunity to play and practice and do my thing. And without them, without my dad or my mom or any of those people, I wouldn't be here for sure. My dad gave me the opportunity to be able to play endless golf when it was not snowing in Vermont. But endless golf, all day long, which is as much as I could get, and it's paid off.
Q. You talked about flying under the radar earlier. Can you just address, do you take a lot of pride in sort of coming up a different way, obviously from the northeast, and the guy who skied a lot as a kid? And can you recount the story when you were 12 years old at the top of the mountain in Vermont, and you basically said, enough of this?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It was a slalom at Killington, and I'll never forget it. It was raining, cold, sleeting, and I'm at the top of this mountain going, "This is not as much fun as golf. I love golf so much more." That was the moment that I realized that I wanted to golf instead of ski, because skiing was bigger growing up for me personally. That was the time. I mean, I was sitting on top of that hill freezing, having no fun, and I said, you know what, I want to be a golfer. This skiing is not as much fun.
Q. And then just coming up a different way than many of the golfers out here do.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I take tremendous pride in being from New England. It's one of the things that defines me. I think as a player and as a person, I didn't grow up like the kids in the south did. I mean, I had -- I ski-raced in the wintertime. I had a long time off where I didn't even hit balls and I think it paid off now, because I actually -- I haven't been playing as long as a 25-year-old from Florida has been playing. I've got a little more, I guess, not burned out -- maybe that's not the word. It's a tremendous pride for me to be from Vermont and to be a PGA Tour champion and to be able to say that there has not been a lot of us out here. But New England is a huge part of my personality and the way I even play golf.
Q. Have you heard from Pat yet? What's the cowbell story? She used to do that after her wins?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I have my phone on me -- but ever since is I've been sitting down here, it's been buzzing. I'm 100 percent positive there's a text from her. But the cowbell was an old cowbell that my grandmother used to ring every time that she won. The story is, she won in Australia, and it was in the middle of the night, her first time. And my grandmother was freaking out because she had won and it was the middle of the night and she didn't know what to do and so she went outside in Westford, Mass and ran up and down the streets and rang the bell and woke everybody up. The bell is actually in the Hall of Fame now.
My mom has started her own new traditional, a little take-off of that. She runs up-and-down the street like a crazy woman with wind chimes. So that's a new thing. Might have to get that bell out of retirement. I'd like to hear it ring once.
Q. You and Jason in the playoff, a lot of new names on the leaderboards, can you speak about the depth of majors and fields and how so many players can win?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I think majors especially, but the fields, everybody out here is so good now. From the last guy in to the first guy can win. And Jason -- I played with Jason on Saturday, he played great. He actually hit a lot of really good shots in the playoff. He missed a couple putts; other than that, he didn't miss a shot. And of course he had to go make that putt on 18 to get me a little more nervous. But he's a great player, and there's so many great players out here. I mean, my buddy, Brendan Steele, was in the final group today, also in his first major. It's a pretty cool thing.
Q. The 105-yard walk after you knocked it in the water on 15 all the way back to the drop zone, that's got to be a pretty tough walk. What was going through your mind at that point, and did you think, you know, I've blown this or at what point did you say, I can still pull this thing off?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I just kept telling myself, don't let that hole define this whole tournament. I had played so well and I gutted out rounds and I just didn't want to be remembered as the guy who tripled that hole and went on to bogeying or something. I didn't want it to define my tournament and I just kept telling myself to just, you know, just pretend like nothing happened and go out there and hit this fairway. That's what I kept telling myself walking to the tee was just hit this fairway. That's all you've got to worry about. And like I said, it was the best shot I hit all week. I absolutely striped it right down the middle.
Q. End of last year on the Nationwide Tour, you're playing steady but outside the top-25 and you get on that hot streak. Was there something that -- what were you thinking going into that?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I think it's all about feeling comfortable out here and out there. I mean, it's happened -- I got real comfortable at the end of last year on the Nationwide Tour and played very well. And then, you know, I played okay at the beginning of the year, and then I've now kind of settled in and got more comfortable. It just seems like things are easier when you're more relaxed. Golf is easier. Travel is easier. And the key is, whenever I'm on these streaks, my putting is above and beyond what I normally putt like. Yeah, I'm also very, very proud to be the first belly putter to win a major. (Laughter) I remember people telling me when I first switched, they would go, "But nobody has ever won a major with it." And I remember looking at them and going, "I'm going to be the first one to win a major," just joking pretty much. It's a surreal thing that it's true.
Q. First of all, Foltzy says thanks for winning on his birthday. And I don't know if -- or when you're walking down 18 in regulation, in the Byron Nelson, you were thinking about a cowbell, was there anything that was going through your mind this time around?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: This time around I was just trying to stay upright honestly. I hit the shot on 18 and taking a sip out of my water bottle and my hand is literally going like this, shaking, violently, not just like a little (indicating). There was so much adrenaline, because the shot in on regulation, I thought it was short and it ended up getting there. I was just trying to enjoy it, and look into the crowd and see everybody that's there. Pepsi told me in the playoff when we were talking up 18, "Just enjoy this moment. Walk up 18 and enjoy it." I tried, but I was so nervous that I didn't really. Honestly, I was just trying not to fall on my face to be honest with you.
Q. Other than birdieing three of the four holes after the triple-bogey, what do you think the key to the week was overall?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Obviously to win any tournament, let alone a major, you have to putt well overall. I don't know the exact stats of my putting but I'm sure they are pretty good. Also, on this course, you have to drive the ball well. And in my round where I shot 64, I made three or four really good par putts that are burned in my memory right now. And I just played steady all week, all the way around, and most importantly in my attitude, my demeanor was where it needed to be, which is what you have to be like to win a tournament.
Q. A lot of guys win a major, and there's a little bit of a letdown afterwards, because, you know, obviously such a great achievement. Are you the kind of guy that is looking to win more of these? Do you think that you have it in you to do that?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, absolutely. I'm pretty much a golf addict. I can't spend more than at least, at the most, two or three days away from playing. I'll be definitely playing by Wednesday again and I have some pretty awesome tournaments coming up with the FedEx Cup Playoffs. I don't want to be one of the guys that kind of disappears. I would love to be -- I would love to be up in a category with the best players and be mentioned with Phil Mickelson, one of my idols. I hope I don't disappear. I don't plan to. And I think I can, honestly.
Q. Is there a trend with the long putter now along the younger players? It seems like the Nationwide guys, you see more of them than you used to, and is there something that you've learned with the putting studios and that kind of thing that says, this is a better roll or a sounder way to putt? And are a lot of people thinking that now?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I said yesterday that it's not rare at all to be -- last year in the Nationwide Tour, to be in a group with three guys that had unconventional putters. It happened all the time. Personally, I think that it's an easier way to putt. Especially when there's some nerves or it's in there and it's not going anywhere. It's just very, very comfortable to me. And I think guys that have putted for a really long time with the conventional putters, it's difficult for them to use a long putter. But for me -- you know, for a guy that's 40 years old and has been playing with a short putter for 35 years, they grab that thing and it's a bizarre feeling. For me, it was really easy. It just clicked right away. For the younger players, I think it's easier for them to switch. I've been putting with the belly putter for 2 1/2 years now.
Q. Obviously some great play down the stretch to overcome the deficit, but how much do you empathize with Jason and how he's feeling? Obviously he has some shots he would like to have back. What are your thoughts on what he's feeling and what he went through down the stretch?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It's always difficult to -- he's a great, great guy, and he's fun to play with, and he really played awesome in that playoff. He had a tricky putt on 17, and I feel for the guy, honestly. He played well enough to win. And he's playing great golf. It would not be a surprise at all to see him up at the top of leaderboards for, you know, right away. He's a great player and very nice guy in general. And I really enjoyed playing with him and you know, it's just the way it goes sometimes. It's difficult. I feel for him.
Q. Earlier after your win earlier this year, if memory serves, it said you were going to try to get a tee time or try to play with Tom Brady, I don't know if that sounds right. Is that something now that you might be able to get that time a little sooner?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I'd love to play with Tom Brady. Yeah, he's one of my idols. That would be a dream come true. I hope that happens for sure.
Q. Winning this PGA Championship is going to change your life for sure, but how will you deal with the fact that you're into the majors and World Golf Championships for the next five, ten years?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: That's unbelievable considering the fact that 2½ years ago I was playing on the Hooters Tour grinding for, you know, survival to keep playing. It's amazing what comes with winning a PGA Tour event. I have no idea with what comes with winning a major right now. But it's an amazing feeling. Golf can be difficult and to know that you've got some security for a good chunk of time is very nice to have, but on the same side, you don't want to get complacent and not work as hard. But I'm just going to enjoy it for now and I'll figure out all the fun stuff probably in a week or two.
Q. Can you talk about the setup and the emotion of the back nine? You have 12 that everyone is making eagle it seems like and you have those last four holes where anything is possible from triples and everything we saw?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I think that the guys did an unbelievable job setting this tournament up. I thought it was very fair, the course. I thought the setup on 17 was awesome, moving that tee up, there was -- there's a lot of drama that can happen, which I'll hopefully get to go look it over and see what happened. I really don't know. But I thought they did an excellent job and it's -- they did a great job of moving some tees around instead of just putting us all the way back every hole, which I don't think is the best way to play it. It was just very exciting for me as a player to be able to go through it.
Q. Was it more distracting and harder to stay kind of in the present because everything was shifting so quickly or was it easier because you knew you couldn't pay attention because it could change in a minute?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: For me it was easier because I knew I had to make some birdies. I got a peak at the leaderboard and saw he was at 11 and people are screaming at me that he hit it in the water and I have guys yelling at me walking up to 18 telling me, "You're tied," which I tried not to know. I personally knew I needed to make at least par on 18 to be where I needed to be, and you know with that triple, it may have helped me, I don't know. Maybe I get a little tight coming in and hit some weird shots, so it all happens for a reason.
MODERATOR: The pride of Vermont, the 93rd PGA Champion, Keegan Bradley. Congratulations.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.