Bradley returns to the beginning of his meteoric rise

By Jason SobelMay 15, 2012, 7:52 pm

IRVING, Texas – Even though he was still a wide-eyed PGA Tour freshman at this point last year, Keegan Bradley was already living a Rodney Dangerfield kind of life – and not the Al Czervik-in-plaid-pants version, either.

His photo was prominently displayed in the annual media guide … next to the bio of veteran player Michael Bradley. No relation.

He was often asked questions about all those great Bradley performances over the years … Pat Bradley, that is. His aunt.

And with a pair of top-10 finishes entering the Byron Nelson Championship, he was sought out by autograph hounds prior to the tournament … only to be asked his identity upon signing.

Talk about no respect.

Just a few days later, they’d find out all about him.

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Using Lord Byron’s tournament as his personal coming-out party, Bradley outlasted Ryan Palmer in a playoff to earn his first career victory, one that came as almost as much of a surprise to him as to those who had unknowingly collected his John Hancock.

“I was staying at the Hampton Inn down the street,” he recalled with a smile on Tuesday in advance of this year’s edition of the event. “I was just trying to keep my card.”

It’s been a whirlwind year for Bradley, undergoing a warp-speed metamorphosis from Nationwide Tour graduate to PGA Tour winner to major champion, claiming the last of those titles at the PGA Championship, just three months after his initial victory here.

It isn’t presumptuous to think that as part of that domino theory, the major victory never would have happened without first winning the Nelson.

“This tournament might have set up my whole career, to be honest with you,” Bradley said. “People don't realize what the stress level is of a rookie on the PGA Tour, trying to keep your card. I played on the Hooters Tour and thinking about going back is scary. And to know I was on the Tour for at least two-and-a-half more years was huge. 

“At the PGA, I didn't have that pressure of having to win my first tournament or having to worry about making enough money to keep my card – stuff like that, where rookies have to think about that, and this tournament cleared the way.”

It almost never happened.

Bradley had planned to play at Colonial the week before, and then take Nelson week off. Through a conscious bit of serendipity, his caddie talked him into changing his mind.

“It was done,” he explained. “I had made my decision, and Pepsi [Steven Hale], my caddie, said, ‘Look, I think you should play’ – he's never said anything like this to me in my career. He's supportive. And he said, ‘I think you should play Nelson and skip Colonial. Nelson fits your game better.’ And sure enough, we came here and won. Pepsi knew something I didn't, and thank God he convinced me to do it.”

Looking back on that week “fondly,” Bradley says there are still some pinch-me, let-it-sink-in moments when it comes to what’s happened in his career over the past year.

They usually occur when he’s at his Jupiter, Fla., home, relaxing in his room and watching TV – until the silvery glint of a certain trophy catches his eye.

“I will be sitting around and I will realize that I won the PGA and start laughing, by myself, like I can't believe it,” he intimated. “It seriously happens all the time. I keep the trophy on my mantle in front of my TV in my room, and I'll just be watching TV and I'll look over at it and start laughing, because it seems so bizarre, that's the Wanamaker Trophy – it's in my room! I definitely sometimes I have to ask myself, ‘Is this really real?’”

The answer is, yes. It’s really real.

The unassuming kid from the golf-rich Bradley family has reached the big-time. Still just 25 years old, his photo now corresponds with the proper media guide entry, he receives questions about more than his Aunt Pat and those who seek his autograph know his identity without having to ask.

He’s finally shed that Rodney Dangerfield label, earning plenty of respect in the process.

And he’s hardly done, either.

“It's cool to be living it,” Bradley claimed. “But I have so much further to go, and that's what I'm happy about. I want to be out here for a long time and be one of the best players, so I have a lot to work for.”

Respected and respectful. What a difference a year makes.

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.