Bradley isn't intimidated when playing with Woods

By John FeinsteinAugust 9, 2012, 8:57 pm

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – It seems as if Keegan Bradley is asked the same questions almost everywhere he goes.

“You got a text from Tom Brady?”

“You threw out a first pitch at Fenway?”

“You played golf with Michael Jordan?”

“You played your college golf at ST. JOHN’S?”

“What in the world is someone as young as you doing with a long putter?”

The questions are understandable in light of what has happened to Bradley in the 12 months since he caught Jason Dufner from behind on Sunday at the Atlanta Athletic Club, then beat him in a playoff to win the PGA Championship.

Bradley was 25, a PGA Tour rookie who might have believed at the time that his full name was “Keegan Bradley, nephew of Hall of Famer Pat Bradley.”

It may not be very long before the Hall of Famer finds herself being introduced as “Keegan Bradley’s aunt.”

Clearly, the nephew isn’t a one-time wonder. Perhaps the question he should have been asked after he shot a 4-under-par 68 in the opening round of his title defense at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course on Thursday is this: Just how good do you think you can be?

The answer would be VERY good.

It isn’t just that Bradley almost won at Riviera earlier this year, beaten by Bill Haas in a three-man playoff (Phil Mickelson was along for the ride) when Haas made a putt across the 10th green that started in Orange County and dropped into the hole after a change of area codes. It isn’t that being slighted by Fred Couples when Couples opted for Tiger Woods and Haas as his captain’s picks for the Presidents Cup team a year ago clearly motivated him to nail down a Ryder Cup spot this year. It isn’t even that he came from behind (again) last Sunday to catch Jim Furyk and win at Firestone.

It’s the look. Bradley has it. Even though he comes across in person as a 26-year-old who is still wide-eyed by all that’s gone on: “I mean, I got a note from Bill Belichick – wow, he’s always been a hero of mine,” – he certainly isn’t wide-eyed or overwhelmed when he steps inside the ropes.

Thursday he found himself on the 10th tee at 8:30 a.m. looking Tiger Woods right in the eye. Martin Kaymer, the 2010 PGA champion was also there but he might as well have pulled up a chair and watched. It would have been a lot easier than taking a long walk on a hot day en route to 79.

At least Kaymer had a front-row seat for the Bradley-Woods matchup. Make no mistake, as much as Woods loves going head to head with anyone who cares to challenge him, Bradley isn’t the least bit intimidated by him or by anyone in the game. In fact, he clearly reveled in the moment. He started out birdie-eagle and, even though he stumbled twice with three putts (one from off the green) he was clearly in his element all day.

He was practically gushing after he signed his scorecard. Speaking to the media outside the scoring area he used the word “great,” six times in five minutes and threw in an “amazing,” just for good measure. But it was one five-word sentence that was most telling: “I love playing with Tiger.”

There was a time in golf when playing with Woods was a golf death sentence. For most of 12 years, starting with the fateful Friday evening in 1997 when Colin Montgomerie declared his experience would be an advantage for playing with the 21-year-old Woods during the third round of the Masters, almost every player in golf would have taken 18 trips to the dentist over 18 holes with Woods – especially in a major championship. The day after Montgomerie’s comment he shot 74 – only nine shots more than Woods.

That sort of margin was the norm for a long time. That was then this is now.

Bradley doesn’t fear Woods, or anyone else in the game. He believes his best is as good as anyone else’s best and he knows that he can play in the heat, whether it is 90 degrees, humid and windless as it was Thursday morning or if it's Sunday afternoon at a major championship.

Or in the Ryder Cup. Bradley is much too polite to tell people what he really thinks about Couples’ decision to choose Haas over him last fall. Couples was going to take Woods because, regardless of how poor his year had been, he is still Tiger Woods and has the TV ratings to prove it. But the choice of Haas over Bradley came down to simple golf politics: The Presidents Cup is run by the PGA Tour. Haas won the biggest event the Tour has to offer: The Tour Championship and, thus, the FedEx Cup. If you offered any player on Tour five FedEx Cups or one major, they would take the major. Bradley won a major – but it was a major put on by the PGA of America.

Bradley might have fared better if Davis Love III needed to consider him for a captain’s pick on this year's Ryder Cup team since both the Ryder Cup and the PGA are run by the PGA of America. But he didn’t want to leave it up to anyone. That’s why the victory at Firestone, which locked up his spot on the team, was so important.

He came to Kiawah brimming with confidence and good cheer, although to be fair, he shows up almost everywhere brimming with good cheer. The chances that he defends his title are slim. Since Curtis Strange won a second straight U.S. Open in 1989, Woods had won majors in back-to-back years four times (Masters 2001-02; British Open 2005-06 and the PGA in 1999-2000, 2006-2007).

Among mortals here is the list of players who have accomplished that feat in the last 23 years: Padraig Harrington – British Open 2007-08.

That’s it. That’s why betting on Bradley to hold the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday evening probably isn’t a smart play. Then again, it isn’t that long ago that he was playing on the Hooters Tour and trying to earn a spot on the PGA Tour.

Now, he’s a major champion, a Ryder Cupper and clearly someone who is going to be a factor in the game for years.

He may get back to the mound at Fenway again in the near future.

Come to think of it, the Red Sox might be able to use him.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.