Keegan Bradley thrives in pro-am tournaments. Last year on the Nationwide Tour, the 24-year-old rookie fired 61 at two different pro-ams, BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation and Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic Presented by Samsung. At this week’s Bob Hope Classic, he’s continuing the pattern on the PGA Tour. Keegan posted scores of 66-67 in the first two rounds and currently sits at T5 on the leaderboard.
“I’m going to try and think less,” said Keegan via the phone on Tuesday. “I have a good history in pro-ams. There has to be something to it — I must be having more fun because I’m shooting lower scores in these pro-ams.”
Last week at his first-career PGA Tour event the Sony Open, Keegan, who played college golf for St. John’s University, carded 69-70 at Waialae Country Club. Under normal circumstances, he would have made the cut, but because the first round was washed out, the field was trimmed to the closest number to 60 instead of top 70. Instead, he MDF’d, finishing T68 and collected official money.
After posting a five-under 67 at the Palmer course on Thursday, Keegan (who almost wore white pants but changed his mind at the eleventh hour, thank goodness) reiterated his chill mindset in these hit-and-giggle fests.
“There’s something about pro-ams that gets me relaxed,” said Keegan. “I don’t even realize I’m playing in a PGA Tour event, it’s more like you’re playing Saturday with your friends. It’s just a way different atmosphere.”
I’m sure you’re all wondering about the Bubba Watson reference in the headline. Well, the two have yet to play together and it’s not accurate to compare PGA Tour stats to NWT stats, but last year Keegan averaged about 315 yards off the tee, while Bubba drove it around 309 yards.
Generally, at all four courses played at the Bob Hope, long-hitters have an advantage. Don’t they always? Obviously, but the bombers can let it rip in the desert because the rewards are greater than the risks.
“I can reach all the par 5s easily with mid-irons,” said Keegan. “Sometimes when guys have to hit 3-wood off the tee, I’m hitting 3-iron. It’s easier to hit a fairway with a 3-iron. It’s always an advantage on any course, but on these courses on some of the holes, you can really let it rip because there’s not a lot of trouble, which is helpful.”
But the secret to his success this week has been his putting. On Tuesday Keegan listened to Dr. Bob Rotella’s “Putting Out of Your Mind.” He works with Dr. Rotella regularly, but sometimes just hearing the small reminders is helpful.
“Am I supposed to tell her my secrets?” asked Keegan, looking over to his dad, Mark Bradley.
“I don’t know but you look awfully smooth with the putter, though,” Mark replied.
“I’m just trying to think of my target and get the ball in the hole,” said Keegan. “It doesn’t matter how it gets there.
“I’ve made almost every putt that I feel like I should have made, like inside 15 feet. I got into a little roll in the middle of the round, where I was hitting it in the fairway, at the pin and making the putt. Golf feels so easy when I’m doing that. I got a little locked in coming around the turn. It was really stress free.”
Has life changed for the Hopkington, Massachusetts, native who now lives in Jupiter, Florida, and is rarely seen without pal Jamie Lovemark since making the bigs? Well, kinda.
On Tuesday when Keegan was at the grocery store shopping for ingredients to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which he eats constantly on the golf course, he saw an elderly lady looking at him like she knew him.
“I’m thinking in my head, I’m on the PGA Tour, I’m a big shot, this lady recognizes me,” Keegan recounted. “This is awesome, this is happening!
“I’m getting my peanut butter and she walks up to me and seems really nervous. She goes, ‘Excuse me, is your name Peter Tomasulo (a fellow Nationwide Tour grad who is playing his second season on the PGA Tour)?'”
Oh, burn! Well, they kinda look alike, but Keegan is 6’2″ and Peter is 5’10.” It’s okay, Keegan, keep up the fine play and soon enough you won’t even be able to shop for your own groceries — but make sure you still do.
(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)