Keegan Bradley happy to belong again at Hero World Challenge

Victory at the BMW Championship helped Keegan Bradley regain his rightful place at the top table of golf. he is looking to build on it and have a good season in 2019

Keegan Bradley is back where he belongs

Albany, Bahamas – 29 November 2018: The 2011 US Open Champion, Keegan Bradley has been dealing with a drought of sorts. So he was naturally thrilled to win the BMW Championship this year and end the season ranked eighth on the FedExCup standings.

Q: You made a great run in the FedExCup Playoffs, obviously winning at BMW and advancing to the TOUR Championship. What did that mean to you as you look back on it a few months later to make that run and get to the TOUR Championship?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: Well, my goal for the last couple years was to make the TOUR Championship. I fell a little short two years ago and made it this year. It sets up to make — the TOUR Championship sets up your whole entire year if you’re not in the top-50 in the world, which I wasn’t at the time. So making the TOUR Championship was a big goal and it just helps you so much going forward. Now, I won, so I got in the top-50, so it kind of evened out, but it’s still a nice goal to get.

Q. Do you find yourself anxious about 2019?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: I’m always anxious about everything, so that’s nothing new. I can’t remember a time I’ve been more excited about a year than next year. I’ve got to be careful that I don’t go overboard with that, but I feel as though my golf game is the best it’s ever been and I just kind of keep improving with my putting and stuff. I should be there, I should be ready to go and contend in more tournaments and hopefully win some more.

Q. Are you saying that your year is set up, and with the condensed schedule, how difficult is it to set up your playing schedule in ’19?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: It creates problems in a good way. Last year I don’t know if I’m in any of the tournaments, so all of a sudden I’m playing in three, four in a row, and then I get into the British and then I’m playing another two and three in a row.

Now I’m able to sit back and go, okay, I’m going to play my regular schedule, know I’m in the majors. But then that creates a tournament that maybe I’ve played over the last couple years that I love that now I can’t play in. So you could play every week and play in great events out here, so it creates some challenges, but good ones.

Q. Keegan, you talked about playing as good as ever. People would assume it’s the putter, but where did you make the biggest jump do you think in the last six months or so?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: Well, the putter was big. I mean, if I just — I just think — this is going to sound weird, but my goal is just to putt average. At Aronimink I was No. 1 in putting and I won. So if I can be an average putter on the Tour, which I want to be better but with the way I’m striking the ball, I’m going to be competitive, and if I do have weeks where I putt great, I’m going to contend and hopefully win.

But my ball-striking, my distance control — my distance control is what I didn’t have — what I have now that I didn’t have when I first came out on the Tour. When I think back now, I had no clue how far the ball was going and now I’m very specific, which through my coach, Darren May, that’s the biggest difference I feel.

Q. Keegan, the last time you represented the U.S. was 2014 Ryder Cup and obviously didn’t go so well for the team. I’m wondering how tough it was to kind of sit out these last four years and how much of a goal is it to make it to Melbourne next year?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: Well, it’s tough not to play, but it’s even tougher to not even be part of the conversation. I mean, I can sit there and say yeah, I want to be on the team, I wish I was there to help the guys or be on the team, but I wasn’t in a position to be on the team really.

Now what’s fun is this year I feel I have a legitimate shot to make the team. I thought I had that chance in years past, but it was a little distant. This year I feel as though I can make that team, and with Tiger as the captain, I think that’s — for a lot of us players that grew up watching him, that’s going to be pretty incredible.

Q. Keegan, you just said average putting. I would like to know why you don’t say the best?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: Well, I definitely want to be one of the best putters, for sure, but statistically if I’m near the average on the Tour, I’m going to gain a lot of — I’m going to gain a lot of shots on the field.

My goal is to be one of the best putters, it’s not to be average, but if I statistically can be there, I can be competitive.

Q. There’s just a fact of the Tour, there’s the haves and the have nots in various tournaments and you’re kind of back in the haves. Was there a point where it stung the worst of being part of the have nots? Does that make sense?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, there was a point even as early as last year, even two years ago I was involved in some of the Ryder Cup meetings, I was invited. This past year at one of the tournaments I heard a couple guys talking and I realized I wasn’t even invited to the meeting. That kind of — nor did I deserve to be, I understood it was just — it was like wow, I’ve come pretty far there, now I’m not in the conversation.

Those times hurt, and it hurts to watch majors on TV. It’s brutal, especially the Masters. Just being home watching as a fan, you feel distant from some of the guys on the Tour that I’ve been playing with forever. That was the toughest, honestly. The Ryder Cups watching were tough, but being home for the majors, not playing Akron or stuff, that was tough.

Q. Why did you watch?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: I always watch. I watched the Tiger-Phil match from the time they warmed up until they were done. I love watching. I hear a lot of guys say they don’t, but I love it. I watch the Ryder Cup. I’m a golf fan, so I enjoy watching it.

Q. I was going to ask is if you watched The Match the other day and what did you think? You know Phil pretty well from maybe some of your own matches with him. I’m just curious what you thought of how that went down and if you would even like to get involved with that?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: Oh, I would love to get involved in that in a lot of ways. I loved it. There were so many — so much criticism. I thought it was awesome. I know the boys would have loved to have played a little better, I think that would have made a big difference. But I would watch those two — them playing against each other, that’s my childhood. I
watched — to watch Tiger play in a pay per view was pretty incredible. I loved watching him warm up.

I know Phil was just loving every second of it; I could see the way he was popping around. I knew he was going to be tough in that match. He’s so tough in all matches like that. But I could just see the joy in Phil and I knew this meant a lot to Phil, so I’m happy that he did it.

I thought it was great. I was watching it with some of my family members that aren’t golfers and I kept asking, is this interesting to you guys being not being golfers, and they loved it. I thought it was great.

Q. What was it like for you whenever you went up against Phil on Tuesdays or whatever? He does seem to relish that, there’s another side that comes out.

KEEGAN BRADLEY: He does, he loves golf. So sometimes tournament golf like we play can get — it can just be brutal, especially for a guy like him that’s been out here forever. So every time there’s a different format, say Ryder Cup or Shark Shootout, we love it. Phil thrives on that, so that’s why he’s so good in matches like that. He was right in his element there, for sure.

Q. Keegan, you mentioned that you got the late call to get here. Where would you have been otherwise this week if you hadn’t?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: Probably on my couch. I’ve been traveling, I was in Malaysia, I came back, I went to China, I came back, I went to Australia, I came back. I was home at Thanksgiving and I got the call, I think Tommy Fleetwood withdrew. Coming to this tournament’s a no-brainer for us. It’s a real testament to how you’ve played not only this year but over the past two years because of how the world ranking points work. It’s a big deal to play in this tournament. It’s a great way to close the year, it’s a great place to come. It was a no-brainer for me.

Q. First of all, why did you go to Malaysia and come back instead of playing Korea or waiting and doing Korea and China together?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: I got a lot of weird looks when I told people. It’s just I worked so hard to get back in these WGC tournaments and I’ve worked so hard to be back in this conversation, I didn’t want to skip — I’ve always played very, very well in Malaysia and I just didn’t want to skip China. I just wanted to play in the WGC that I earned, that I got to, and I’ve also had a great history there. I actually went over there and played really well.

So I just wanted to — I was like, you know what, I’m just going to do it. I want to play the WGCs, I want to be in these big tournaments. And we get treated great over there, so it was worth it. I’m glad it’s over, put it that way.

Q. When did you do it on the Hooters Tour, what part of the week?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: I lived in Orlando, I was playing in the winter series they called it, and it was like on a Tuesday and they said come on over. Everyone puts in some money and play for it.

Q. Could you not see anything something like that on Tour? Not to take away from the pro-am, which is important, but on a Tuesday which could be televised live to bring more fun to it?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: I think with Tiger and Phil, they’ve done a lot for the game, but I think this pay per view for golf could be so cool. You could do anything for pay per view, a lot of people would pay for it, I think it would be a great idea.

Q. I don’t recall if you played with Tiger this year, but certainly you’ve watched him or seen him on TV. What have you seen? What have you noticed about Tiger compared to when he was struggling so much?

KEEGAN BRADLEY: Yeah, I mean, I didn’t play with him this year. What I’ve noticed, what everyone noticed especially probably in this room is the atmosphere and the crowds are, man, I can’t — even back when he was playing I don’t remember it like this.

I just think, you know, a guy like Tiger, just give him even a spec of confidence or a spec of just feeling good, anything can happen. You can see that with Tiger where he’s just such a good player. Not much more to it, he’s just such a good player, he’s going to get some momentum and he’ll do great.

Q. So it’s been a month now, but I’m just curious how you celebrated the Red Sox win.

KEEGAN BRADLEY: I was in China and I didn’t see — I didn’t get to see one pitch because they were playing — it’s the reverse, so they were playing and we didn’t have the game. But I was able to watch the parade and livestream the parade, so that was good. We’re used to it in Boston, we get about one a year now, maybe at least.

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