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Short-game work paying off for Bradley at Shell

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HUMBLE, Texas – Keegan Bradley has been putting in the hours on the chipping green recently in preparation for next week’s Masters. Turns out, that decision is paying off a week early.

Bradley chipped in for eagle and added four more birdies during the second round of the Shell Houston Open, carding a 6-under 66 that matched the low round of the morning wave at the Golf Club of Houston. At 8 under through 36 holes, he is in position to contend for his first victory in nearly three years.

“It’s pretty much all I’ve been working on lately with my coach,” Bradley said. “We just chip, chip, chip.”

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A sharp short game helped him salvage a 2-under 70 Thursday despite hitting only 12 of 18 greens in regulation, but Bradley was much more accurate Friday, missing just one green in regulation.

Bradley has just one top-10 finish in eight starts this season; while the results haven’t been there, he remains confident in his overall game.

“I feel as though this year I’ve played well, it’s just one of those things where I’ve got to stay patient,” he said. “I feel solid every tournament I play. The numbers just haven’t been there.”

Bradley has developed a more controlled ball flight and has begun to hit more right-to-left shots, a shot shape that will come in handy next week at Augusta National. With his game rounding into form just in time for the season’s first major, Bradley is eager to make his fourth trip down Magnolia Lane.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “I’ve never felt more prepared going into Augusta.”