Featured Golf News
Bradley Entering PGA Championship on a High Note
Keegan Bradley showed his resilience and grittiness down the stretch in last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The 26-year-old Vermont native began the final round in the $8.5 million event trailing leader Jim Furyk by four strokes, but a closing 6-under 64 at Firestone - coupled by a double-bogey by Furyk on the 18th hole - gave Bradley his third PGA Tour victory and an almost certain spot on the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
The win was worth $1.4 million and 550 FedEx Cup points, which moved Bradley up to seventh in the season-long Cup race. He's also now eighth on the Tour's 2012 money list with $3,222,158.
Perhaps more importantly, the Bridgestone Invitational title gives Bradley momentum heading into this week's PGA Championship, which starts Thursday on the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.
After winning the 2011 Byron Nelson Championship as a rookie, Bradley stunned the golf world in last year's PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, where he overcame a triple-bogey on the 15th hole Sunday and rallied from a five-shot deficit with three holes to go to tie Jason Dufner in regulation and force a three-hole aggregate playoff, which Bradley won.
Bradley became only the third player in history - after Francis Ouimet (1913 U.S. Open) and Ben Curtis (2003 British Open) - to win a major in his first attempt. He also became the first major winner using a long putter.
Bradley is one of 16 different players who have won the last 16 majors. He'd like to change that statistical aberration with a successful defense of his title at the Ocean Course, which at 7,676 yards will be the longest venue ever used for a Grand Slam event.
Yet he's not thinking too hard about that prospect, saying instead he'd just like to play well this week. "A good defense for me would be to contend in the tournament at some point," Bradley said. "Any time you have a chance to win, no matter where you finish, whether you finish 20th or third, I think that's a great accomplishment and shows that you're in it to win it."
After Furyk's problems at Firestone and Adam Scott's blowing a four-stroke lead with four holes to play in last month's Open Championship at Royal Lytham to hand Ernie Els his second claret jug, Bradley knows that no lead is safe anymore, regardless of the tournament. "I don't think it's quite explainable why it's happening," Bradley said of the recent rousing comebacks.
"I think now you've got guys coming from behind and really putting it to the guy that's leading, and I think you're seeing the guys feeling it a little bit," he added. "From what I've been watching, I feel like the guys in second place have looked freed up and shooting really low numbers and coming back and winning tournaments."
Bradley knows all too well about being "freed up" down the stretch, having done so on one of golf's biggest stages last year in Atlanta and just last week in Akron, Ohio. "It was a life-changer for a lot of different reasons," he said of his PGA win.
"A lot of people knew more who I was - kind of validated my position out here on Tour as one of the top players. It just was a lifelong dream to win a major championship."
On Tuesday, Bradley met with reporters for the following Q&A.
MODERATOR: Defending PGA champion Keegan Bradley, joining us at the 94th PGA Championship. Last year at the Atlanta Athletic Club, Keegan became the third player ever to win a major championship in his debut. From Atlanta last year all the way to Firestone last week, it's been a rather remarkable run. How does it feel to come in as a winner last week and to come in as the defending champion of the PGA Championship?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it's a great feeling, a lot of really good vibes here at the PGA, just seeing all the people again, all the PGA Officials and members of the PGA. It just brings back a lot of great memories. We're here at a great golf course at Kiawah, and I think a lot of the players are looking forward to Thursday.
MODERATOR: The win you had last year, define maybe how it changed your life on course, as well as off course, please.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: You know, after I won last year here at the PGA, it was a life changer for a lot of different reasons. A lot of people knew more who I was, kind of validated my position out here on Tour as one of the top players. It just was a lifelong dream to win a major championship, and it kind of put me in a different category with some of my idols.
Q. What does it mean for you to come here to defend coming off a win?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It's a couple different emotions. One, it frees me up a little bit. I'm not as worried about The Ryder Cup. Any time you win, it's a great feeling. A little less pressure than you normally have. But also there's a lot more pressure now, playing well, coming back to the PGA. I've got a great course here that I feel like suits me very well, and I want to defend my title as best I can. So it's kind of a combination. But I think overall winning, it's going to help me this week free up a little bit. It's just a matter of getting rested and ready to play.
Q. You talked about last year being a life changer in a lot of ways. Did you have to adjust in order to get back to playing the golf that you wanted to play? Was there a personal adjustment that kind of after winning a major that you had to make to kind of get yourself back?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah. After I won the PGA last year, it was almost like I couldn't catch up with my rest. No matter what, I was tired. I won this week, I had the week after off, and I just couldn't sleep I was so excited. I kind of settled down towards the end of the Playoffs and was able to relax and played very well through Augusta, and then went on another little streak where I might have been putting too much pressure on myself. And it's just a matter of getting back to what you've always done, and that's just play golf and not put extra pressure on yourself.
Q. Is there some sort of unspoken competition between all the major winners in recent past? 16 different winners. Is there some sort of unspoken competition to be the guy to win the second one and break through there?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Absolutely, yeah. It's a cool when you win a major, you kind of are in this group of guys. You look at guys who have won majors a little differently, at least I do. And there's been a lot of first time major winners and a lot of very great players that could easily win their second this week or at Augusta or soon. And I think that I sure would love to be the guy to win, too. But there's a lot of great players that are trying to do the same.
Q. Speaking of great players, how much does it build your confidence to hear guys like Phil, some of the older veterans, say that guys like you are part of the group that sort of inspires them to keep up at this high level?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It's pretty unbelievable to hear guys say something like that. It's an honor to be in that younger group of guys out here that's kind of making a move. I've always felt like I should be in that category, growing up with guys like Rickie and Rory, and I just wasn't quite there. And I'm finally in that conversation now. And it's really cool to be a part of this movement that we have, these younger guys kind of starting to win tournaments and play well on the Tour.
Q. So many times, including just this past Sunday, the person who's leading after the third round doesn't win. Maybe the person who's leading after the front nine on Sunday doesn't win. What do you make of that? What do you make of that trend? It's happened a lot on Tour this year and in the majors.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I don't think it's quite explainable why it's happening, but I think what you're seeing is you're seeing a lot of guys play really quality golf on Sundays and guys that are really wanting to win tournaments and going out and winning them. Any time that you have a lead and somebody is making a move on you, it's going to be difficult. And I think that we're used to seeing guys like Phil and Tiger just win tournaments and make it look very easy because of how great of players they are.
I think now you've got guys coming from behind and really putting it to the guy that's leading, and I think you're seeing the guys feeling it a little bit. From what I've been watching, I feel like the guys in second place have looked freed up and shooting really low numbers and coming back and winning tournaments.
Q. You talked about pressure that you've put on yourself since you won the PGA. What kind of pressure had you put on yourself before your first win last year to break through?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it was any time that you're a rookie on any Tour, whether it's the Web.com, the Hooters Tour, the PGA Tour, you always feel like you need to prove yourself, and it's no different out here. It's the most, more, out here. It's scary when you get here to think that you could lose this and go back to Web.com or Hooters. And that's kind of a driving part of you to win and play well, to stay out here with the best players in the world and get treated like amazing. It's just a lot of fun.
Q. Did it change the way you looked at yourself as a player, last year's PGA win?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It definitely changed the way I look at myself as a player, not as a person but as a player. I realize that I get an opportunity to do some pretty special things. I realize that I can stand up and play well under the pressure of a major championship, and that means I can play well in tournaments to win. And it definitely changed my mindset a little bit out here.
Q. I know everybody tees up to win, but what would you consider a good defense for you this week?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: A good defense for me to be to contend in the tournament at some point. I feel what I envy the most about the best players in the world like Tiger and Phil and Dustin and Rory and Rickie, I think that they're up there a lot. They have a chance to win. Any time you have a chance to win, no matter where you finish, whether you finish 20th or third, I think that's a great accomplishment and shows that you're in it to win it. That's kind of been my motto this year is put myself in contention as much as I can.
Q. When you say this golf course suits you, how so?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I think that in any tournament on the PGA Tour but especially majors, I've noticed you must drive the golf ball well. But in majors it's even more so important. And this is a course that you must drive the ball straight and long and well because the rough is brutal, the course is long, and if you hit it in the fairway, you're going to have some good looks at birdies, very similar to Firestone. And I feel like when it's a challenging driving course, it's a good course for me.
Q. With the new demands on your time, how difficult has it been for you to devote the kind of time to your game that you're comfortable with? And then maybe looking back 12 or 18 months, how is your game different now than it was then?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it's a major adjustment, major. From Monday to Wednesday once the tournament starts, everything is about the same. It's a little different, but Monday to Wednesday it's a completely different world that you one night didn't have, the next night I did. And it took me a while to adjust to it. But I've learned, in talking to Phil a lot about it, you've got to be in control of your schedule, you've got to be in control of everything. I think I've devoted a little more time to it. You've got to be a little more patient. But just like anything you've got to get used to it and get into a routine that fits you.
Q. Sort of compare your game now to then. Is it a lot better to last year?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I think that my game from last year is a lot better. I think that my short game is especially better, working with Jim McLean a lot on my chipping, and I've noticed that maybe in the last year, I wouldn't have shot around maybe 1 or 2 under, maybe 1 or 2 over because my chipping wasn't as good. And I feel like that's made a different this year, especially early on in the year where I've been able to hang in a little better.
Q. Obviously this is the major that's run by the professionals' organization. What does that mean to you to be the son of a golf pro, to hold this trophy?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it's pretty unbelievable if you think about it. I think is Davis the only other PGA pro yeah. It's pretty unbelievable. My dad's here, right behind you. I grew up going to work with him and seeing what PGA pros have to do every day, run tournaments and try to play golf and please members and do all that stuff. I know what these guys go through, and I know what it takes to be a PGA professional. It makes it a lot more special to me to have the Wanamaker in my house and to look at it and realize what's going on.
MODERATOR: Keegan is one of six PGA Champions whose fathers have been PGA members.
Q. This morning you got a practice round in and you were playing with a pretty high profile grouping. Can you talk a little bit about what you guys gained from this morning and just getting a chance to play out there with them?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, you know, Phil has kind of taken me under his wing ever since I've been out here. Phil is very the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup is very important to Phil, and he's trying to get us into a team format feel. You know, it's really helped me a lot, and I think he loves to be amongst the guys, and he's such a great team competitor. And I think that honestly he's just trying to help us out for Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups but also to have fun out there and to get ready to play tournaments.
MODERATOR: And who else did you play with this morning?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: We played with Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Phil.
Q. Obviously last year when you were in the moment in Atlanta, it was just you playing golf, but a year later when you think about it, the putt on 17, some of those shots you made down the stretch to get you that championship, I mean, what do you think about the most in that?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it's an unbelievable thing to look back on. I have a very hard time watching the replay. I really can't. It's too I get nervous, I get uncomfortable. The thing I remember most is my drive I hit on 16 after I made triple. It's one of the hardest driving holes on the course, and if I miss the fairway, I've got to lay up, and I striped it. I hit it about 30 yards, 20 yards past where I'd been hitting it all week. It's just a memory that I'll have where if I didn't hit a good drive there I wouldn't have won the tournament. I was able to keep it together after making triple. It was the biggest shot of my entire career.
Q. The momentum continues to billed to look at longer putters or anchored putters and where they fit within the rules. Does that concern you? Does it bother you? Where do you stand on that?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It doesn't bother me. I realize that the R&A and the USGA and the governing bodies of golf are going to make their decision regardless of what we think. I do see golf we're trying to make golf more fun for the players, and I think if a player is having more fun enjoying the game more with a long putter or a belly putter or a whatever putter, I think it should be allowed. I think that we're seeing courses being maintained better, we're seeing drivers that hit the ball further, balls that hit the ball further, and it's making the make more fun for people. And I think that it's a very dangerous thing to take that away from the average golfer or from any golfer. I think that it's important that we remember that the game is supposed to be fun and people are supposed to enjoy it.
Q. You've always prided yourself as sort of an under the radar guy, as a junior, in college, maybe as a young pro. You probably can't play that card anymore, so what serves as sort of a big motivating factor for you going forward?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: In my head, I still am. I think in my head, I'll always think that. You know, I've always set out when I play golf to be the best player I can be, and I really feel as though I want to be one of the best players in the world. As a golfer, there's always something to play for, whether you're trying to maket the Ryder Cup Team or trying to make the Presidents Cup Team, get top 10 in the world, No. 1 in the world; there's always something.
You think when you get here, you're going to get on Tour and you won and you can just relax. Once you do that, it gets even harder. It's very difficult for me to think that I won't have something to play for because even right now I have 100 things that I'd like to do. Every day I try to improve as a golfer and hopefully some day become one of the best.
Q. What have you taken from Phil during this period where he's maybe not playing as well as he has been, struggling a little bit? What have you learned from him that in that regard?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I always envy with Phil first of all, I've played with him a bunch, and I think he's playing great. But I've always envied with Phil the love that he has for the game. Every week I speak to him, he's ready to win every week. It doesn't matter if he missed the cut or if he played a bad round; he's still going to go out tomorrow and play great. And I think that makes him a great partner in a Ryder Cup or a great partner in a match against your buddies. Phil is the type of pro, player, that I want to be some day. I think he's a very hard worker, very serious about his game; but also comes and hangs out and has a match with me last year when I hadn't won yet, I was a nobody out here, and it's a pretty cool thing to be like that.
Q. Obviously the middle of Ohio and an Ocean Course are not similar at all, but besides the confidence of what you did on Sunday, do you take anything from last week into this week?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Absolutely. Firestone is one of the classic courses in the country, if not the world. The history that goes on there is unbelievable. And the shots that I hits and the putts that I made coming down the stretch will help me in any tournament I play in. It just shows that it's another proof that I can handle the pressure and I can stand up to anybody. Jim Furyk is just such an unbelievable competitor. To come down the stretch with him makes it even more special, and I hope I can carry that over to this week.
Q. If they did change the rules and you had to go to a traditional putter, how big of a deal would that be for your game?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I don't think it would be a big deal at all, to be honest with you. I grew up with a short putter. I sometimes while I'm waiting around will grab one on the putting green and putt around, and it feels great. I think that it would be a small adjustment, just because of the hours and hours I've put in with the belly putter and the work and the sweat, but I can go back to a short putter and feel fine. I think it's a very something that will come easy to a lot of players.
Q. We asked this of Tiger, we've got to ask it of you. The sale went through with the Padres, Phil is a minority partner there. In your wildest dreams do you see yourself maybe some day being a partner in the Red Sox?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I'd have to make a lot more money to do that. I told him to take it easy on my Red Sox, don't take any of the players, and he can stay over there on that West Coast. I mean, that would be a dream of mine, to own a piece of a Boston team would be about the coolest thing I could ever do in my life. I know he's very proud, he's very excited. Padres are the next greatest baseball team to ever happen now. I think as an owner, you couldn't ask for a more exciting guy to have in there.
MODERATOR: Tonight you have the honor of hosting the champions' dinner here at the PGA Championship. Can you talk about what that opportunity means to you?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, it's an unbelievable thing because I really, truly wasn't aware of the champions' dinner. I knew of it, but that's not something you think about after you win it. I remember the next week, I think we were in the Barclays, and David Toms came up to me and said, "What are we having for dinner?"
I said, "What are you talking about?" He said, "The champions' dinner." Then the next week I'd have John Daly coming up to me; and then the next week Phil would ask me; and then at Medalist the other day Tiger asked me. It's an unbelievable thing to have the guys come up to you that are a part of this club as winners of the PGA come up to you and ask what you're having for dinner. It's weird to be a part of that.
It's going to be very special. My dad is going to come as my plus one. So going to have a PGA member in there. We're having Maine lobster with filet, corn on the cob and ice cream sundaes. I think it'll be good.
MODERATOR: Defending champion Keegan Bradley, thank you and good luck.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.