KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Keegan Bradley still has trouble watching those tense final holes from last year, when he rallied from a five-shot deficit to win the PGA Championship in a playoff.
I have a very hard time watching the replay, he said. I really can’t. I get nervous. I get uncomfortable.
After winning a major in his first try last year, Bradley’s best finish in one this year was a tie for 27th at the Masters – but he’s confident heading into his title defense at the PGA starting today at Kiawah Island. On Sunday, the 26-year-old Bradley edged Jim Furyk in a surprising final-hole swing in the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.
It was Bradley’s third career win, and it all but assured him a spot in the Ryder Cup.
It’s a couple different emotions, Bradley said. One, it frees me up a little bit. I’m not as worried about the Ryder Cup. Any time you win, it’s a great feeling a little less pressure than you normally have. But also there’s a lot more pressure now, playing well, coming back to the PGA.
After a triple bogey on No. 15 at least year’s PGA, Bradley was five shots behind with only three holes to play. That’s when he began his comeback with an impressive drive that helped him stay in contention.
I striped it, Bradley said. If I didn’t hit a good drive there, I wouldn’t have won the tournament. I was able to keep it together after making triple. It was the biggest shot of my entire career.
Jason Dufner made three straight bogeys, falling into a playoff, which Bradley won.
Bradley had some help last weekend, too. He saved par from a bunker on No. 18, putting pressure on Furyk, whose double bogey gave Bradley the win.
Bradley is one of 16 different players who have won the last 16 majors – a list that includes Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, but not Tiger Woods.
Last year, Bradley stayed in contention until the end and found himself with a shocking major title.
It’s very difficult for me to think that I won’t have something to play for because even right now I have 100 things that I’d like to do, he said.
Every day I try to improve as a golfer, and hopefully someday become one of the best.