Rookie Bradley riding high OR Rookie enjoying good life
By JIM PELTZ and Tribune Newspapers
Nov 29, 2011 | 11:45 PM
That's how Keegan Bradley, 25, sums up his exceptional rookie year on the PGA Tour as the golfer heads to Southern California this week for Tiger Woods' charity tournament, formally known as the Chevron World Challenge.
A year ago Bradley, a nephew of LPGA Hall of Fame golfer Pat Bradley, was toiling in anonymity on the sport's second-level Nationwide Tour.
But after joining the PGA Tour this season, Bradley had two wins, including the PGA Championship, one of golf's four majors, in a playoff at the Atlanta Athletic Club in August.
His performance earned him a spot among the 18 players in the 13th edition of Woods' tournament, a four-day event that starts Thursday at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks.
The tournament has a $5-million purse, from $1.2 million for the winner to $140,000 for the last-place finisher. Bradley has earned $3.8 million on the tour this year.
How does it feel to be playing in Tiger Woods' event?
It's one of the toughest tournaments to get into the whole year, and the fact that it's Tiger's tournament is really special to me and a huge honor. It means you've been playing some pretty good golf.
Have you played Sherwood before?
I played it once just when I turned pro, about 2½ years ago, but that wasn't in tournament conditions. It's definitely a really good course. I love those courses on the West Coast.
When did you take up the game?
My dad actually was a [club] golf pro too, and I really started playing as soon as I could walk. When I was 4 or 5 years old I was playing all the time. I always loved it. I didn't want to do anything else.
But you were raised in Woodstock, Vt., and graduated from St. John's University in Queens, N.Y., so you weren't playing all year long?
Yes, I was forced to take some time off each year; I had an off-season where I didn't play for a while and I think it helped me. I'm not as burned out.
Speaking of unorthodox moves, why do you also use the so-called belly putter, where the top of the putter's extra-long shaft rests against your stomach?
I've been doing it over two years now and hopefully I'll be putting that way the rest of my life. I feel more comfortable. I can set up the same way every time and I hit it more solid.
This year you threw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game and handled the coin toss at a Patriots game. Why?
I'm from New England and I'm a huge fan [of its teams]; all those teams are pretty much my only hobby. The biggest highlight of winning the PGA was getting to do stuff like that.