With hometown and Ryder pressure, Bradley flourishes

By Rex HoggardAugust 29, 2014, 8:20 pm

NORTON, Mass. – That sound Tom Watson heard on Friday while he was smoothing 1-irons - or whatever icons do with their free time - was Keegan Bradley kicking down the door to the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s locker room.

Although Bradley had been among the consensus favorites to land one of Captain Tom’s picks on Tuesday evening, the twitchy and tenacious American put a bow on his chances on Day 1 at the Deutsche Bank Championship with a flawless 65.  Impressive, considering the degree of difficultly - the field average hovered closer to par than normal thanks unseasonably hard and fast conditions.

For Bradley, his 6-under card came despite the weight of his competitive world perched squarely on his narrow shoulders. Or maybe it was as a result of all that PSI.

“This probably has more pressure then ever,” said Bradley’s caddie, Steve “Pepsi” Hale. “Between being a home game and the Ryder Cup thing I don’t know that there’s ever been more pressure on him.”

Bradley is a New Englander to his core. A card-carrying member of Red Sox nation. The second playoff stop has always come with a healthy amount of expectation to impress the home crowd.

And, of course, there is that Ryder Cup thing.

The 28-year-old has played for the United States just twice, at the 2013 Presidents Cup and 2012 Ryder Cup, but has proven himself uniquely suited for all the intensity the international matches produce.

Two years ago at the Ryder Cup he went undefeated in team play paired with Phil Mickelson, and he was 2-2-1 at last year’s Presidents Cup. As heartbreaking as the loss was in 2012 at Medinah, the thought of not playing this year’s matches in Scotland is unthinkable, which is why the three-time PGA Tour winner set out this week with a singular purpose.

There has been no sugarcoating it. No sports psychology tricks. No clichés.

“I’m not going to sit up here and say any clichés that I'm not thinking about the Ryder Cup or any of that,” Bradley said following his round at TPC Boston. “I am very aware every second of the day that I'm being watched by the captain. I'm just trying to embrace that and be aware of it and enjoy it, if I can.”

Unapologetically confident, Bradley has told anyone who will listen what it means to him to wear the red, white and blue in September, including Watson.

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Bradley was the only player to take Watson up on his offer to visit Gleneagles, the site of this year’s matches, prior to the Open Championship and the two last spoke during a lunch at the PGA Championship.

Much like Bradley, Watson has not been ambiguous when it comes to his potential picks. “He hasn’t said anything to me about what I need to do, but I know what I have to do is play well,” Bradley said.

In practical terms on Friday, “playing well” added up to hitting 13 of 14 fairways, 13 of 18 greens in regulation and needing just 25 putts, his lowest putting total since Round 1 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

It’s been the putter, be it his signature belly version or the standard-length model he experimented with at the Memorial, which has been the issue in 2014. He ranks 53rd on Tour in strokes gained-putting, his highest ranking in three years, and it is the primary reason he is two years removed from his last Tour victory.

This week, however, Bradley decided it was time to try something else.

“He’s made it a little less of a mental grind when it comes to putts this week,” Hale said.

As a result of his new laissez-faire approach Bradley rolled in birdie putts of 20 (No. 1), 9 (No. 3), 11 (No. 6), 15 (No. 17) and 10 (No. 18) feet on a perfect day. To put that in context, he ranks 72nd and 53rd on putts from 10 to 15 feet and 15 to 20 feet, respectively, this season.

In fact, the closest he came to making a bogey on Day 1 at TPC Boston was when his group was put on the clock for being out of position on the 13th hole, but compared to the sum total of all the pressure Bradley is dealing with this week, an official with an itchy finger on his stopwatch is hardly a reason to worry.

For Bradley, he’s been in this position before.

Back in 2011, U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples selected Bill Haas over Bradley, who had won that season’s PGA Championship and had the unabashed support of Phil Mickelson.

Losing - like the U.S. Ryder Cup team did in 2012 - Bradley can live with, given enough time and the solace that he held nothing back. But watching the matches from his couch in south Florida is unacceptable.

“When I’m sleeping, I’m dreaming about it. When I wake up, I’m thinking about it. When I’m on the course, I’m thinking about it,” he said.

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'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

“The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

A 25-year media veteran from Australia, Elvy now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

"Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

Elvy participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship.

Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," he lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

“It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

"The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

“I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy said. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”