LOS ANGELES – Keegan Bradley had a nice warmup for Riviera last week.
Bradley, 25, played Augusta National for the first time in preparation for his first Masters this spring. He took along his father, Mark, a club professional.
“It was one of the most special couple days I’ve had in my life,” Bradley said. “Everything about Augusta is pretty unbelievable, driving down Magnolia Lane with my dad for the first time.”
Though Bradley had never been inside the gates of Augusta National until last week, he was kind of an Augusta National stalker. A number of years ago, his St. John’s golf team was supposed to get a tour, but they were denied entry at the gate. It was a big disappointment, so, years later, Bradley tried to visit again.
Back when he played a Hooters Tour event near Augusta, Bradley took a drive to Augusta National, where he parked his car across the street from the front gate of the course.
“I remember going to a Subway, parking my car and just eating and staring down Magnolia Lane, ready to rip my hair out,” he said.
His car wasn’t exactly a tour pro’s luxury vehicle.
“It was a Ford Focus with the mirrors taped on with duct tape,” Bradley said.
Bradley said he even walked around the gated area, looking for cracks in the wall to glimpse the course, but there were none.
“I remember watching people go up to the gate, talk to the guard and drive inside,” Bradley said. “I just was imagining what the feeling must be like to be allowed into Augusta.”
He'll get to enjoy that feeling again in April.