Keegan Bradley is having one heck of a rookie season, to say the least. In May he won the Byron Nelson Championship, and just a few weeks ago, he staged a thrilling comeback at the PGA Championship to take home the Wanamaker Trophy in his first start at a major.
When asked in a press conference Tuesday what had been the biggest change in his life in the past two weeks, Keegan responded with complete candor.
“I have to shave more — I have to shave every day because I have to come and talk to you guys,” said Bradley.
Perhaps not the most eloquent response, but Bradley demonstrated his appreciation for the support he’s gotten since the prestigious victory, as well as some of the fun he’s had with the Wanamaker Trophy.
“Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun, and kind of crazy at the same time. But it’s all worth it, and it’s just been really fun to have that Wanamaker Trophy sitting in my living room, I can touch it whenever I want and grab it, it’s just been great. It’s cool to come — this is my first tournament back. So it’s really great to see all of the players and they are all so nice and congratulatory. It’s really fun to be back out here.”
The St. John’s product enters The Barclays as an undisputed contender. Keegan made 16 of 24 cuts this season, highlighted by his first career victory at the HP Byron Nelson in a playoff over Ryan Palmer. Then two weeks ago Bradley overcame a five-shot deficit after triple-bogeying the 15th to capture his second victory of the season at the PGA Championship, becoming just the third player in history to win in his major debut.
But even amidst his terrific success this season, the 25-year-old is focused on staying humble and producing results.
“I’m trying to stay the exact same as I was. It’s a little different for me at the golf course for sure, like even today [Tuesday] was my first tournament back. People know who I am, know my name now. It’s a little bit more to deal with, but I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. Now that it’s finally here, I feel ready for it and I’m not afraid of it by any means.”
Bradley’s learning first-hand the benefits of big-time PGA prestige: text messages from Tom Brady (his childhood hero), phone calls from Greg Norman, and even the bizarre request from a kid who asked if Bradley would sign his forehead. He’s also had plenty of fun with the Wanamaker Trophy.
Now undeniably in the running for the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year award, Bradley could enter the conversation of an even more significant accolade, the PGA Tour Player of the Year, with a consistently solid performance throughout the playoffs. But that will all start with The Barclays, where Bradley must harness the momentum and adrenaline from his major victory to compete against the best golfers in the world.