BOSTON, Mass. – The here are many words to describe the topsy-turvy golf career of Keegan Bradley, but the one word that best sums it up “determination.”
Fourteen years ago, Keegan Bradley helped Hopkinton High School (MA) to an MIAA State Championship and in the past seven years he’s been on the PGA Tour, he has enjoyed a great amount of success.
Today, the 32-year old Bradley who grew up in the cold weather in Woodstock, Vermont and played college golf at St. John’s, located in New York City, is a winner in the FedExCup Playoffs!
On Monday September 10, in the final round of the 2018 BMW Championship at rain-soaked Aronimink Golf Club, Keegan Bradley shot 64, then beat World No. 1 Justin Rose with a par on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff, for his first win on Tour in six years.
“A lot has happened to me over these six years,” he said after his victory, which comes with a $1.6 million check. “The belly putter was a tougher transition than I thought, and I kind of fell off the radar there for a little while. It’s tough to go from being on Ryder Cup teams, being on Presidents Cup teams to outside the top 100 in the world. That was difficult. I had to really sit down with my coach Darren May, and we put a schedule together.”
Bradley joined the PGA Tour in 2011 making a splash. He made the cut in his first PGA Tour event, the 2011 Sony Open in Hawaii, and finished T-7 the following week at the Bob Hope Classic. He added a second top-10 finish at the Valero Texas Open in April and Bradley won his first PGA Tour event at the 2011 HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Bradley played in his first major, the 2011 PGA Championship. A second-round 64 propelled him into a share of the lead at the halfway stage and he went on the win in a dramatic three-hole playoff against Jason Dufner. He was voted Rookie of the Year in 2011.
“I had missed over 10 cuts. I was in jeopardy of not making the Playoffs. I was really struggling,” he told the media. “I wasn’t really aware of how far off I was. I had to really get serious and put a lot of work in.”
“It’s scary when I look back because I didn’t know I needed this much improvement. But to put it all together, especially with the putter the way it was this week and the way it’s becoming, is so gratifying, because for a little while, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get back to this spot, and today I did it.”
Hank Haney on his golf radio show on Sirius XM from 10 – 12 weekdays regularly calls Bradley and Adam Scott the two worst putters on Tour. This win should shut up Haney’s gibberish commentary.
Bradley has always relied on his long game – he’s second in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and sixth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. That takes pressure off his putting so he can still have a solid week with mediocre putting and contend when he gets hot on the greens.
Bradley’s career took a downturn just as the debate about anchoring the putter started. He and Adam Scott and Webb Simpson were banned from using the belly putter on January 1, 2016. He missed the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time in 2016.
It’s easy to blame the belly putter. Bradley figured out his full swing about eight months ago. That allowed him to focus on the putter. He finally settled on the arm-lock method used by Matt Kuchar and another player impacted by the anchoring ban, Webb Simpson.
“When I used the belly putter, I just putted,” Bradley said. “There was no thought process. And I had to really sit down and focus in on my putting stroke, which was something I had never done.”
Keegan Bradley used the belly putter to win three times in his first two seasons, including a major and World Golf Championship.
“It’s a game changer for a player like me that’s not in the top 50 to get in the Tour Championship,” Bradley said. “You’re in all the WGCs, or most of them. You’re in all the majors. And that’s so huge for a player where I am at this point, because then I can play my way back into the top 50.”
The prototypical modern golfer, Keegan has ranked near the top in driving distance and possesses a great touch on and around the greens. Golf runs in the family. He is the nephew of LPGA star, major champion, and World Golf Hall of Fame member Pat Bradley.
New England golf fans are happy for the Vermonter’s “determination” for finding his way out of the abyss and into the winner’s circle!