JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – All of Cape Cod knew how proud Pat Bradley was that her nephew won the PGA Championship. The Hall of Famer resurrected a family tradition Sunday night after Keegan Bradley defeated Jason Dufner in a playoff at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
But instead of rousing the neighborhood ringing a Swiss cow bell the way her mother did every time she won an LPGA title, Pat broke out a ship captain's bell, the one her brother bought her as a housewarming gift.
"We have a lot of ships around Cape Cod, you know," Pat said.
Pat raced out in the yard with the bell after Keegan's victory and began clanging it so all of Hyannisport would know something special happened.
"I would have used the cow bell, but it's in the World Golf Hall of Fame," Pat said.
If Kathleen Bradley heard Pat ringing that bell, she would have smiled. Kathleen is Pat's mom and Keegan's grandmother. Kathleen used to ring that cow bell in Westford, Mass., every time Pat won. She rang it 31 times during Pat's remarkable career.
Kathleen also lives in Hyannisport now, 10 blocks from Pat, but they didn't watch Keegan's victory together.
"Are you kidding?" Pat said. "We talked about it, but we both decided we wanted to totally focus on watching. We wanted to be totally engrossed in the competition. We didn't even want to chit chat with each other."
That's the legendary Bradley focus in competition. After winning Sunday, Keegan talked about it.
"I grew up going to Pat's tournaments, totally idolizing her and wanting to be with her," Keegan said with the Wanamaker Trophy at his side. "I remember as a kid going to her tournaments and literally staring her in the face. I'm her nephew, but she was so into it, she wouldn't even recognize me. I thought that was cool."
Keegan needed that kind of singular focus to overcome the wave of negative emotions that hit him on the back nine of the PGA Championship. After watching his chip shot come hot off his wedge behind the 15th hole and race through the green and into the water, Bradley found himself five shots behind Dufner with just three holes to play. His triple bogey there appeared to doom his chances.
"That was a very, very deflating moment, but I saw something in Keegan's eyes when they showed his face coming off that hole," Pat said. "I was watching, and I saw this determination in his eyes. That look never left him. I'm so proud of him."
Pat said she leaped off the chair in front of her television when Keegan rolled in a birdie putt to rebound at the 16th hole and then made another birdie at the 17th. Keegan played the treacherous gauntlet of 15 through 18 in triple bogey, birdie, birdie and par to catch Dufner and force the playoff.
Keegan, just a rookie, playing in his first major championship, had a lot of help from family all week. His father, Mark, a PGA club professional in Jackson Hole, Wyo., couldn't be there to watch because of work. But Keegan's mom, Kaye, and his sister, Madison, and his 10-month old nephew, Aiden, were all there. They stayed in a townhouse together.
Aiden proved to be a large factor in the winning formula. Keegan spent the long morning before the final round playing with his nephew.
"It was just so normal," Madison said. "In the morning, mom got up and made him breakfast."
She made Keegan's favorite: eggs, a toasted bagel and oatmeal.
"And I packed him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for his golf bag," Kaye said.
Kaye must have wondered how the peanut butter and jelly were digesting when she watched Keegan hit that ball into the water at the 15th. He looked like he lost any chance to win there. Kaye said her heart sank with that ball going to the bottom of the pond, but then she snapped out of it.
Kaye remembered how resilient her son can be.
This is the boy, after all, who spent winters racing down treacherous slopes as a ski racer. This is the boy who kept getting up after all those wipeouts and crashes.
Kaye watched her son survive more frightening wipeouts than this when he was 11.
"It's scary when you are at the top of snowy hills with an icy course in front of you, the wind is howling like 30 miles per hour, and it's 30 below zero," Kaye said.
Kaye said she was horrified watching more than one boy taken off in a stretcher in one race, the conditions were so difficult.
Keegan walked away triumphant and unscathed, just like he did Sunday in Atlanta.
"That's one of the most impressive things about Keegan, his ability to come back like this," Kaye said. "He's done it so many times. He's just so rock solid, so sturdy."
All of Cape Cod knows that now. If they didn't see it, Pat Bradley made sure they heard about it. She hopes to make a lot more noise with that ship's bell of hers in the future.
"I'm going to ring this bell in honor of my nephew," Pat said. "We're starting a new tradition."
Keegan Bradley's champions dinner will have a distinct New England flair of Maine lobster with filet, corn on the cob and ice cream sundaes. Read More
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