FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Keegan Bradley calls Bethpage Black his “favorite course in the world.” Luckily for him, he won’t have to sneak on this week.
It wasn’t that long ago that as a member of the St. John’s University golf team, Bradley and his teammates had a little wink-wink deal which afforded them the luxury of practicing on the course once a week.
“The superintendent Craig Currier used to allow us to come up and play on Mondays when the course was closed,” he recalled Wednesday. “We'd pull up and park at his superintendent's house, and we'd start on the third hole and play, because there was nobody out here, so we could play, us all in one group, seven, eight guys, and just having such fun little matches and basically having Bethpage Black to ourselves, which I don't know if there's anybody in the world that's ever experienced that. Normally you're out here, it's a six-hour round. It's brutal.”
The three-time PGA Tour champion is reticent to talk about those times – not because he doesn’t enjoy reliving the memories, but because he was asked by St. John’s coach Frank Darby to keep the secret.
“My coach called me one day, kind of joking but kind of not, he's like, ‘You've got to stop talking about it or we'll never get back out there,’” Bradley said. “Most of the time we'd all just carpool together, but also Coach Darby had a van that we all piled in and we'd all pull up and jump out. We had bags everywhere. And it just was so fun. I mean, just the stereotypical hanging out with the guys and just great memories, ones that I wish I could go back and relive to be honest with you.”
The last time Bradley played the course was four years ago when he competed in the 2008 New York State Open. He desperately wanted to get into the U.S. Open field one year later, but narrowly missed qualifying.
“It was my first year as a pro and I bogeyed the last two holes of the second stage to miss by one, and I was devastated,” he said. “So I'm so happy to be able to come back and play here and have a chance to play in front of these fans.”
As the eighth-ranked player on the final FedEx Cup regular season points list, Bradley will tee it up in Thursday’s opening round alongside Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker at 8:05 a.m. ET on the 10th tee.