Bradley looks to defend Byron Nelson title

By Associated PressMay 16, 2012, 7:35 pm

IRVING, Texas – Keegan Bradley sometimes looks at the PGA Championship trophy sitting on his mantel and starts laughing.

''It seems so bizarre that the Wanamaker Trophy, it's in my room,'' Bradley said. ''Definitely, sometimes I have to ask myself, 'Is this really real?' ... It's cool to be living with it.''

One thing that helped set up Bradley to win that major in a three-hole playoff last August came nearly three months before that, when he got his first professional victory in a playoff at the Byron Nelson Championship.

''I went from an unknown rookie trying to keep his card to winning a PGA Tour event and locking up my future a little bit,'' he said. ''I was able to draw on my experience here, especially at the PGA playoff, and this tournament will always be special to me. ... This tournament might have set up my whole career.''

Things certainly have changed the past year for the nephew of LPGA great Pat Bradley.

Keegan Bradley is back at the Nelson to play as a defending champion for the first time. The opening round is Thursday at TPC Four Seasons with a field that includes Matt Kuchar the week after he won The Players Championship.

At the Nelson last May, Bradley didn't even stay in the resort hotel adjacent to the No. 1 tee near Lord Byron's statue. He went basically unrecognized on the course and wasn't asked to sign many autographs. He was even overshadowed during the final round by the local teenage amateur who was his playing partner.

Bradley initially wasn't even planning to play at the Nelson last year.

His initial plan last year was to play at Colonial instead of the following week at the Nelson. The Texas two-step was in a rare reversed order, but this year is back to the more traditional schedule with the Nelson preceding Colonial.

Bradley is sure glad he took caddie Steve Hale's advice.

''I was done, I had made my decision and Pepsi, my caddie, said, 'Look, I think you should play (Nelson)' - he's never said anything like that in my career,'' Bradley said. ''He said Nelson fits your game better, and sure enough, we came here and won. Pepsi knew something I didn't.''

Kuchar, No. 5 in the World Golf Ranking, and 10th-ranked Phil Mickelson are the only top 10 players from that list at the Nelson. Mickelson, a two-time Nelson champion back for the first time in five years, is No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings, the highest from that ranking. Kuchar is sixth.

Winning a tournament the magnitude of The Players Championship was about the only scenario Kuchar could have imagined that ''could throw a little bit of a wrench'' on his plans to be at the Nelson. Still, there was never really any thought of not playing again this week after his fifth top-10 finish in his last seven tournaments.

''My caddie is from the Dallas area, my instructor is from the Dallas area,'' Kuchar said. ''Staying at the Four Seasons is special, it's beautiful, where you don't have to get in your car. There's a lot of great things about coming to Dallas for me.''

Kuchar tied for sixth at last year's Nelson at even par, three strokes behind the winning score of 277.

Bradley is 21st in the FedEx Cup standings and has made 11 of 13 cuts with three top 10s this season. His two missed cuts came in the two weeks before finishing 35th at The Players.

Nancy Lopez, the LPGA Hall of Fame member and 48-time winner who this week received the Byron Nelson Prize, said she likes to watch older PGA players like Fred Couples and Ernie Els. But one of the youngsters she pays attention to is Bradley, largely because of her connection with Pat Bradley.

''When I met Keegan, he was a little bitty guy, and I didn't know that he played golf at the time. I don't think Pat ever said that she had a nephew playing or was going to go on the PGA Tour,'' Lopez said. ''When I saw him I said, 'That's Pat Bradley's nephew. It has to be.' He looks just like her, or her brothers. ... He's fun to watch.''

Pat Bradley won 31 times, including six majors.

Before winning at the Nelson last year, Keegan Bradley regularly spoke with his aunt through text messages and phone calls about playing and what it was like at the end of tournaments.

Their conversations have changed a lot since then.

''We talk about off-the-course stuff, business kind of stuff, media ... talking about winning major championships, how she won her first when she was about my age,'' said Keegan, who turns 26 next month. ''It's more of how to win tournaments now and how to be in contention and handle it as opposed to just feeling comfortable at a golf tournament on the PGA Tour. So it's cool how it's evolved.''

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.