Bradley and Bubba are two peas in a pod

By April 25, 2012, 9:55 pm

AVONDALE, La. – The last eight winners of major championships have been first-timers. In that small cohort, each seems to have a strong bond with at least one of the others.

The Ulsterman trio of Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke have their nationality. McDowell introduced Clarke to his new bride. McIlroy and McDowell share a friendship much more profound than the first two letters of their last name. Clarke and McIlroy were a part of the ISM team behind the thwarted Chubby Slam.

Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen were boyhood competitors whose relationship has evolved into a special bond as the next torchbearers for their country.

The last two majors, however, have been won by Americans in Georgia in playoffs. Keegan Bradley took the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club while Bubba Watson is fresh off a stirring Masters triumph.

At first glance, the two may seem to have little in common. Look again. The parallels to their successful careers may explain the recipe for the American resurgence in majors.

Both grew up in small towns. Bradley, nearly 26, was born in Woodstock, Vt. – population 926. The 33-year-old Watson is a product of Badgad, Fla., with double the number of people but probably the same number of traffic lights.

Watson's father wanted his boy to be great at baseball. Bradley could not be a bigger Red Sox fan, whose dreams were probably filled with equal parts Fenway green and Augusta green.

Each went on to a rather unheralded collegiate golf career, despite the manifestation of some serious game. Watson eventually became a bulldog at the University of Georgia while Bradley quietly honed his game at St. John's in New York City.

'I've always kind of been a player that's been under looked my whole career,' Bradley said  Wednesday. 'I just never seemed to get any credit. I'm glad it happened, I'm glad that kind of was my path.'

After school, both players had a year on mini-tours, which Bradley said was a crucial experience for his future success.

'I was able to luckily play a year on the Hooters Tour where at one point I was down to $1,200 in my bank account,' Bradley said. 'I ended up winning that week and I think that that was the start of the PGA Championship.'

Seems like such a short road. For Watson, it was a longer road to the PGA Tour, with a three-year path through the Nationwide Tour. Watson gleaned a lesson he may have just finally fully understood in the last few seasons.

'Golf you can play a long time, and just take your time at it,' he said Tuesday. 'Don't get overwhelmed, don't get frustrated, just keep playing, keep doing your thing.'

They both did their thing – both bombing the ball and finding a way to the cup and the PGA Tour. Bubba finally broke through in an emotional playoff win at the Travelers. Bradley won the Nelson unexpectedly.

Now in 2012, both are world-class players with major championships titles to call their own.

When he beat Jason Dufner last August, Bradley said he kept focus on himself during the playoff. He saw some of that in Watson, too.

'In that situation, I was able to really just focus in on myself and what I needed to do. I really just enjoyed the moment and it looked like Bubba was doing that,' he said.

Bradley is further along than Watson in one important regard: completing the metamorphosis into a full-fledged major champion.

'It's very different. I don't envy him in that aspect. I envy the green jacket that he has, but it's something that you just have to get through, basically because it is a lot,' he said, referring to the onslaught of attention from friends, strangers, family and media.

He expects Watson to pull through with flying colors.

'Bubba seems to really enjoy it which is what you need to be able to do,' Bradley said.

Meanwhile, the PGA champion has moved beyond his landmark win to show he is more than a one-hit wonder.

'Now I'm starting to prove that I can play out here and it's really fun to feel like you're a part of the PGA Tour and one of the better players out here, and it's a lifelong dream,' Bradley said.

Watson intends to simply keep on doing his thing and seeing how the chips fall.

“If I go out there and play my game, I have a chance to win,” he said. “If the other guys go out there and play their game and hit good shots, they have a chance to win. So we're not looking at [winning], we're just looking at trying to play good golf.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm

Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.